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FSF Newsletter - July 2013

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In the closing days of term, a new consultation has been released which could be extremely important to the EYFS sector. It suggests the end of the EYFSP, and its replacement with a baseline test at the start of reception and has many implications discussed in this FSF topic, which also provides you with a link to the consultation. Whatever your opinions, please make sure you consider responding, as it is something that could have a major impact on early years settings.

FSF News

Tapestry, our learning journal system, is just about to be updated to enable EYFSP returns to be produced. Look out for notice of this implementation over the summer, and we'd love to hear your views. Additionally, we're happy to let you know that we are completely re-writing the Tapestry Android app, and this will be available by the beginning of the autumn term.

We'll be introducing our new FSF appearance over summer which will necessitate a short period of unavailability. We are intending to replace the photographs that have appeared on the front page for some years, with pictures from the FSF membership. If you have any photos you would like to see on the front page please do get back to us - obviously they will need to have permission from parents if they include children's faces.

So as the summer term draws to a close, we'd like to wish all of you who are lucky enough to have the full holiday a wonderful and relaxed break. Hope the weather does what you'd like it to do and you come back with your batteries charged!


LA Scheme

We'd like to welcome back members from the following authorities, which have renewed their LA subscription. Members need do nothing, their individual accounts will automatically be re-subscribed:

  • For the sixth year - Wigan, Cumbria, Kent,
  • We are happy to report that Milton Keynes has reinstated its membership, so welcome to all the new and existing Milton Keynes members.

Welcome back to you all!

New Content

The Role of the Adult in Early Years Settings: Part 2

Part 2 continues the journey of exploring our role in supporting young children’s learning and development. It outlines the five remaining ‘selves’ of the ‘plural practitioner’ framework that encompass this role. The ‘plural practitioner’ framework is offered as a useful vehicle for enabling us to clarify our role in the day to day interactions with children that occur throughout our practice. It offers a way forward in helping us to minimize any uncertainty about whether ‘to intervene’ or ‘not to intervene’ in children’s play.

Characteristics of Effective Learning: play and exploration in action

Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) are a revived element in the current Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). CoEL advocate that in planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn, and then reflect these in their practice. A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment. The focus of the CoEL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoEL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence, why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.

Aspects of Art: Collage

Collage is all about experimentation. Once you start thinking about it you realise you can collage with almost anything and do it almost anywhere: big and small, stuck down or removable, flat surfaced or 3D, inside or outdoors. The great appeal of collage is that it involves bits and bobs and collections of things. There are lots of fine motor skills involved – cutting, arranging, tearing, organising and sticking. Children can learn creatively about tessellation, position, overlapping, and layering, and explore texture and shape as they collage.

From The Forum

CRB/DBS - is there a cheaper provider?

We have our CRBs done through the 'disclosures' company and are a bit panicky about the price per enhanced CRB of £44, especially as our committee renews every year. Does anyone know if £44 is a statutory price, or are there other companies charging less?

Mud Kitchen

Well today is the day..............our mud kitchen will open! I have collected a lot of equipment from parental donations and have worked with the children to set up the area but my question(s) to you lovely lot are these - Is there anything the children can't live without in their mud kitchens? Is there anything you wish someone had told you, about mud kitchens, before you got going?!

IEP in Year 1?

I was just wondering what criteria people used that triggered placing children on an IEP in year 1?

Variation in assessment grades across two nurseries

We had our parent open morning and one of the parents was not so happy as we had graded their child lower than the other nursery that she attends. Now obviously we feel the other nursery has either graded too high, or that the child reacts differently in the other setting. We have looked at the grades again and still feel that they are more than fair. We have stuck to our guns, the other setting has even said they can see why we have graded as we have, but parents are a little unhappy. So what do others do in this situation stick to your guns? grade to high as well so you are in line with the other setting?

FSP scores are in- not happy

Our LA FSP scores are in and I feel,a bit deflated and worried. Our score was 41% GLD which was in line with the pilot score so I didn't feel too bad. But now I have received our LA scores and they fluctuate a lot from 30 % to 80% GLD. The national average is 51%. So straight away we are quite below the national average, whereas usually we are on par with it. So to people looking at the data, our EYFS looks like it has gone backwards and has come 30th out of 35 schools. Usually we are in the top 10. We have been robust but fair with our 3 E's and have not over inflated them. Maybe we should have been more lenient as it appears others have, to get a fairer reflection of our standards. It feels a bit of a game of numbers and am thinking I am going to have to start defending our team against outsiders who will conclude we haven't done a good job. The children and schools in our area have not significantly changed in one year to have caused such a change in the data. Any words of wisdom and comfort from anyone?

Sidelining EYPs

I am now devastated by the government’s plans to supersede Early Years Professionals (EYPs) with Early Years Teachers (EYTs). I am certainly not alone in thinking that employers (particularly schools and foundation units) will prefer to employ EYTs above EYPs because the new training will incorporate appropriate use of relevant Teaching Standards. Indeed, I am employed at a LA Nursery School and have been advised that they are unlikely to ever employ an EYP even if they are awarded similar EYT status because of their distinct lack of access to ‘Teacher Training’. However, they will welcome the new cohort of Early Years Teachers because they will have undergone specific teacher training to meet Teaching Standards for the age group. I think it is critical that the government quickly agrees that EYPs are provided with free, fast-track training to ensure that they too are qualified in the essential skills that ensure that we are truly given equal status in both respect and financial reward following intensive degree studies and the EYP assessment process. Has it all been for nothing? Am I just over-reacting? I fear not! I would be interested to hear other perspectives.

School readiness

Year on year although we proudly send our 4 year olds to school happy, confident, eager, independent and still eager to learn thanks in my opinion to a huge emphasis on PLAY and we congratulate ourselves on what our little group has achieved, we still get parents of these children who reply to questionaires and highlight concerns that perhaps we should focus more on getting ready for school (by which they mean numbers, letters, shapes, colours, writing....) as if we have totally omitted these from anything we do and as if these aspects will have the most impact on their overall success at school. Which of course is far from the case! I would like to be able to respond to these views by creating a handout or display to highlight what is really important and perhaps try to create just a small change in focus for parents so that maybe next year they will recognise their child is not lacking at all! Does anyone have / know where I might find some other references that clearly highlight the need for developing non-academic aspects of 'school readiness' ? When you evaluate your impact on your 4 year old leavers and celebrate (or worry about) their 'readiness for school' what aspects are your focus?

Primary assessment and accountability under the new National Curriculum

Although this may not at first look like it has anything to do with you be warned. Section 5.6 has something that could be used to measure pre school effectiveness it would seem. The removal of any end of key stage/end of EYFS assessment based on observation and professional judgement of people who know the child, to replace it with a notional assessment "test" on entry is a dangerous thing in my opinion. This starts to build the removal of reception children from the EYFS in essence making them part of the Primary school assessment process and removes the principled pedagogical approach of current national assessments for those children. The assessment knowledge of the child from pre school providers would be universally ignored. Assessment of the child would only be seen to start when they start in reception. Tests could be completed through commercial products which in my experience would not be based on what a child can do but rather record what they cannot. I think that this is a cynical DfE move to sneak this into a consultation which the EYFS sector would not look at usually. This is off th back of Michael Wilshaw's comments on the EYFSP not meeting the needs of the Primary assessment/curriculum I feel. Please read and if you can respond please do. It may not be about EYFS to you but it is about EYFS children

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