England: Manifesto about school readiness

By David Whitebread, Sue Bingham, May 2014

The Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators in England has published a manifesto about ‘school readiness’. In it, the Association vents concerns about the increasing tendency of standardizing in early childhood education.

Photo: © Charlotte Fischer

We only start school once in a lifetime; at this exciting point early in life, a child arrives brimming with a huge range of attributes, some biological, some cognitive, some dispositional, some motivational. Even at the age of four, when a child may begin in a primary school Reception class, they come through the gates of the institution with a bundle of diverse previous experiences, a bank of knowledge and skills already mastered, a brain wired up and eager to absorb masses of new information and, most importantly, a disposition towards learning. It is the privilege of both parents and teachers of these young learners to foster these attributes and develop them, to scaffold steps into new areas of learning and to support them in facing new challenges as they prepare not just for school‐life, but for the longer term, setting the foundations for lifelong learning.

What is not at all predictable and uniform, however, is the combination of those attributes and skills with which any individual child arrives at school. Economic and social factors such as unemployment, ill‐health, homelessness, illiteracy all affect the well‐being of families. Stressed parents dealing with economic and social disadvantage may be limited in their ability to provide the responsiveness and cognitively stimulating care which fosters the development of early language and cognitive skills that facilitate learning. Hence, the potency of the child’s start in school is often overlooked in the focus upon their ‘deficits’ upon arrival. Indeed, the language used in much recent government guidance reflects a sense of growing anxiety and negativity about the state in which children are emerging out of the Foundation Stage into Primary classes. In its attempt to assuage this escalating anxiety, over recent years the government has intervened increasingly through early years policy and guidance for practitioners, aiming to ‘control’ the diversity of states in which children appear through the school doors and to standardise what will be taught to the children once in Year 1. This increasing intervention has been placing pressure on early years practitioners to make the children ‘ready for school’.

Tension has been mounting amongst early years educationalists in England as they perceive that those children leaving the Foundation Stage and arriving in primary school are being measured against a ‘deficit model’, a set of inappropriate, one‐size‐fits‐all standards of ‘readiness’ for school. In this paper we argue that these concerns stem from a mismatch between increasingly evidence‐based pedagogical understandings within the early years sector and the curriculum required to be delivered within Primary schools in England, arising from and compounded by the continued intervention of recent governments.

Read the whole manifesto

Go to: Save the Childhood

All news in this category

Why write? Penmanship for the 21st Century

What is the future of writing in the digital age, and why does it matter? In this surprising talk, Master Penman Jake Weidmann explores the... [more]

Polyhedric educational experiences

The main focus of this video is the recent development of the upper classes of the Scuola Novalis. The Libera Scuola Steiner-Waldorf “Novalis” is... [more]

Having 28 daughters. Waldorf Education in India

An interview with Manorama Kamineni, Sloka Waldorf School Hyderabad. [more]

Googlification in the Classroom – The High-Tech Invasion of our Schools

The posters on the classroom wall say, ‘Dream!’ ‘Laugh!’ It seems ironic that these posters remind us of a childhood which is long gone. Some third... [more]

1100 Schools and The Challenges of Teacher Education

Currently, there are 1100 Steiner Waldorf Schools worldwide. One of the challenges to do with this development is the education or professional... [more]

Can physicians benefit from arts?

According to a new study, medical students with a more diverse background, which includes artistic and visual skills may potentially hold an edge... [more]

Kings Langley Rudolf Steiner School on reforming path to avoid closure

A long-established Rudolf Steiner School in the United Kingdom is fighting to stay open following a decision by the Department for Education (DfE) in... [more]

First Waldorf School in Istanbul opened

In Turkey, the Waldorf School and Kindergarten movement is still in its infancy.  [more]

State Recognition for the Yechiel Waldorf School in Israel

About ten years ago, a very dedicated couple founded and provided essential financial support for a Waldorf School In the small village of Tal... [more]

License renewed for Waldorf School Tiflis

Every six years, free schools in Georgia need to have their license renewed in order to continue operating. With the ever-changing political... [more]

Displaying results 11 to 20 out of 124

< Previous

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Next >

Follow