Two year olds to receive learning progress checks

 

The number of targets for five year olds is to be slashed from 69 to 17 while every two year old in England will receive a progress check to see if they are developing properly, Children’s minister Sarah Teather announced today.

However, early campaigners warned that the new learning goals for five-year-olds were set too high and that ministers were ratcheting up the curriculum and making excessive demands on schools’ youngest pupils.

Ms Teather today announced that she would not be watering down the early learning goals despite concerns expressed by parents, teachers and schools. In December, the Department for Education made “substantive changes” to the mathematics and literacy goals after complaints from the sector in response to a consultation.

Many of the 664 respondents to a second consultation by the Department of Education expressed concern that the new standards being expected of five-year-olds were still too high. 38 per cent of respondents were unhappy with the wording or level of the goal about numbers and 32 per cent about that for writing.

Around ten per cent of those who commented on the numbers goal “felt the proposed changes could result in a curriculum and teaching methods which are too formal and academic for this age range”. Others complained that the reading and writing goals were too demanding for five-year-olds arguing that it was too much to ask children to write irregular common words or to read simple sentences.

Ms Teather said: "What really matters is making sure a child is able to start school ready to learn, able to make friends and play, ready to ask for what they need and say what they think. These are critical foundations for really getting the best out of school.”

The move was criticised by academics and early years campaigners.

Experts have warned that children’s natural development is being undermined by a relentless focus on formal assessments and targets in nurseries.

Last month (Feb) campaigners including Philip Pullman, the author, Baroness Greenfield, the Oxford University neuroscientist, and Dr Penelope Leach, the childcare expert, warned of “widespread concern about the direction of the current revision” of the under 5s curriculum.

Dr Richard House, senior lecturer in psychotherapy at Roehampton University, said: “The idea of setting goals for children of this age is total nonsense. Children’s development is so diverse up to the age of six or seven that it is just not appropriate to set goals and then try to shoe-horn children into them.

“The Government is obsessed with the idea of getting children ready to start school aged four. We are the only country in Europe that sends young children into school at four-years-old. Many, many people believe four is at least two, if not three, years too young for children to be going into the formal institutional school system. The EYFS is being geared more and more towards preparing very young children for school. I personally think it is absolutely scandalous.

The changes form part of a major overhaul of Labour’s controversial “nappy curriculum” for under-fives, which was first introduced in 2008.

An independent review of the Early Years Foundation Stage published last year criticised the document for being "cumbersome, repetitive and unnecessarily bureaucratic".

The review by Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of the charity Action for Children, claimed the curriculum had promoted a tick-box culture and stifled children’s early development.

Today Ms Teather unveiled a revised framework – to be introduced from this September – which will dramatically cut the number of targets children are supposed to reach by the age of five, from 69 to just 17.

It includes greater focus on three main areas seen by ministers as essential for preparation for school – communication and language, physical development, and personal, social and emotional development.

The new-style framework will also reduce the amount of paperwork in nurseries, including the abolition of written risk assessments for all activities.

Ministers intend the new progress assessments for two-year-olds to identify children showing early signs of special needs and ensure they get targeted help at an earlier age.

But critics fear the move could lead to toddlers being wrongly “labelled” at a young age, arguing that it could fail to recognise that children develop at different rates.

Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, ““While we welcome the introduction of progress checks for children between the ages of two and three, the Government must take note of parental concerns about these checks. A recent Alliance survey of 2,000 mothers and mothers-to-be found that most are worried that the progress check could result in a possible misdiagnosis of their child, given natural fluctuations in children’s development at this age.”

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker