I have been waiting a long time to find a well developed, coherent argument from child development and neuroscience that can describe the gut instincts I have long held on the values underlying European early years education – and on their educational approach in other matters too.

Well, through an e-mail this morning from Alison Peacock, leader of the Wroxham Transformative Learning Alliance, I have it. The Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators (TACTYC) have published an Occasional Paper that is a critical review of the evidence concerning school readiness, and takes a sledgehammer to the position adopted by successive governments that we have to get children “ready” for school. Its final paragraph (spoiler coming up!) says:

The model of ‘readiness for school’ is attractive to governments as it seemingly delivers children into primary school ready to conform to classroom procedures and even able to perform basic reading and writing skills. However, from a pedagogical perspective this approach fuels an increasingly dominant notion of education as ‘transmission and reproduction’, and of early childhood as preparation for school rather than for ‘life.’ In this paper, we have reviewed the now extensive evidence that the curriculum centred approach evident in many Key Stage 1 classrooms,and the idea that rushing young children into formal learning of literacy, mathematics etc as young as possible is misguided. This leads to a situation where children’s basic emotional and cognitive needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness, and the opportunity to develop their metacognitive and self‐regulation skills, are not being met. The problem is not that children are not ready for school, but that our schools are not ready for children.

The whole paper can be downloaded here. I am about to e-mail it to Governors.


About Huw Humphreys

I am a headteacher in the city of Milton Keynes, where I have been since April 2011, looking to make education effective for the whole child and keeping a distant relationship with the powers that be and their narrowing approach to education... but most of all I am looking to find out what it means to be both a follower of Jesus Christ and a passionate educator in the midst of an unsettled community. I am also a part time musician, part time linguist and lover of history and literature...committed both to freedom to learn and depth of learning for all our children. The views on this blog are all my own, and not in any way those of the school I lead!

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