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Since the start of the twentieth century, children and early childhood is a major focus in England and a continuous discussion for most people. The constant awareness of child's well-being has led to number of policy and legislation development since the twentieth century. Mc Dowell Clark (2010) Children's well-being is a major concern for those that are involved children's lives; Fiona Williams (1989) cited in Mc Dowell Clark (2010) suggested that children are our future. It is therefore extremely important that I explain and provide research about the development of the English Early Year's Curriculum. I will also acknowledge major frameworks that have been supporting children, prior to the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). I will then explore the different strategies that were developed and introduced throughout the National Curriculum since 1997. Within this assignment, I will gain an understanding of how the current curriculum models are implemented in practical settings, and in particular I will concentrate on how 'observation and assessment technique' is used and how it is followed according to the EYFS and the National Curriculum, I will provide relevant references for my findings.
Curriculum for children under-five years of age been gradually introduced since the late 1990's; in 1996, the introduction of Desirable Learning Outcomes (DLOs) was the first curriculum that was developed for children under the age of five years. Before this, there was no curriculum however, general agreement was establish among all those involved with children that good practice, hand on experience and balance range of activities were required in order to meet children's holistic development. The introduction of DLOs strategy was mainly for political and organisation purposes, which ultimately became very unpopular because there was no consideration for child led play and no emphasis on preparation for primary schools. Mc Dowell Clark (2010)
Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage (CGFS) replaced DLOs strategy. CGFS introduced in 2000, this statutory framework introduced the early learning goals that were to be achieved in foundation stage, this framework also shown the different stages that children should be working towards and achieving. CGFS set a clear guidance of expectations in terms of learning and development. CGFS became the new foundation framework. This strategy intended to provide help and support to gain a high quality education and childcare services. The aim was to support and help teacher plan and deliver diverse learning opportunities for all children, who could potentially become high achievers. Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage online (2010)
By 2000, a clear strategy was set out for foundation stage however; there was no provision for children from the age of 0-3 years. As an outcome of this Birth to Three Matters strategy was introduced. This strategy was separate to CGFS strategy; the aim of this framework was to provide carers, health care services, Early Year's providers, and parents with support and information for those who have responsibility of care for children from birth to three years. This framework provided information about child's development, effective practice, and overall well being for babies. Birth to Three Matters online (2010) This strategy concentrates on child's emotional well-being, the important factors of this strategy are- being special to someone, being able to express feelings, developing healthy dependence and developing healthy independence, all factors are seen as very important to children's holistic development. Dryden et al (2005)
Lack of inter-grated working, safeguarding, and welfare for children, resulted in the introduction of Every Child Matters strategy this was introduced in 2004 because of the death of Victoria Climbie, this strategy was published setting out revised policies to protect children and support inter-agency working. BBC News (2010) This strategy focuses on children from birth to 19 years of age. This strategy provides children regardless of their background the support they need in order to stay safe, be healthy, enjoy and achieve, make positive contributions and achieve economic well being. Infed Organisation (2010) Every Child Matters focuses on four revised themes, which were increasing support for families and careers, ensuring that intervention takes place and no children slip through the net, promoting integration along agencies and lastly making sure that people that work with children are valued and trained to a high standard. Every Child Matters online (2010)
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a statutory framework for the Foundation Stage, which was published in September 2008. This framework ultimately replaces all the strategies that were published. This framework sets out legal and welfare requirements and focuses on children's learning and developmental progress. Early Years Foundation Stage (2010). The EYFS revolves around four themes and each theme is supported by a principle. The four themes are Unique Chid, Positive Relationships, Enabling Environments, Learning and Development. The principles explain the expectations from each theme and what type of support needs to be provided within each theme. The welfare and legal requirements include safeguarding and promoting children's welfare, providing suitable people for children such as a key person to work closely with the child, providing children with suitable environment and premises, being organised and have knowledge about specific documentation. Neaum (2010)
EYFS consists of six areas of learning and development, all six areas are extremely important for all children in the foundation stage. The six areas are as follows: Personal, social and emotional development, Communication, language and literacy, Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy, Knowledge and understanding of the world, physical and creative development. All the areas of learning and development make up the skills, knowledge and experience for children in foundation stage. National Strategies online (2010)
The 1988 Education Act introduced a National Curriculum in England and Wales for the first time. The National Curriculum seemed too complex therefore, it was revised in 1995, and this achieved more simplified curriculum. The National Curriculum is not optional and all schools by law have to follow this. The curriculum consists of nine subjects which three of those subjects are known as core subjects which are English, Mathematics and Science, other six subjects are known as foundation subjects and these are; Art, Geography, History, Music, Physical Education (PE) and Technology. In addition to this all schools have to teach Religious Studies (RE), this subject is not in the National Curriculum however all schools have to teach RE by law. Wragg (1996) Before the introduction of the National Curriculum; schools and teachers were able to decide what they will teach in their schools.
Since the introduction of the National Curriculum, many other strategies have joined the curriculum in order to make learning and development enjoyable and to raise standards in pupil's learning and development. National Literacy Strategy was introduced in 1998, this was strategy was designed to suit the different learning and teaching needs of individual pupil's. This strategy developed four key elements which are Daily literacy hour, Training and professional development for teachers, Programmes for pupils who need additional help with literacy, Literacy strategy materials to enhance learning. Global Gateway (2005) Daily literacy hour resulted in more whole-class teaching, subject based teaching and ability grouping this ultimately resulted in successful literacy achievements. Pollard et al (1994) cited in Anning (2004) This strategy has helped to raise literacy standards, research shows that 1,188,000 children were leaving primary schools with very poor literacy skills, before the strategy was introduced. Burkard (2005)
One year later in 1999, National Numeracy Strategy (NNS) was developed and very similarly, it had similar outcomes as the National Literacy Strategy. The NNS set out clear understandings of what type of mathematics should be taught and how it should be taught. NNS was complimented by key elements, which were; Daily hour of mathematics, appropriate teaching to suit different ages, and setting out different objectives according to different ages and stages of the children and teachers should undergo sufficient level of training to deliver high quality teaching to their pupils. Global Gateway online (2005) The NNS also promoted interactive whole class teaching, however research shown that teachers may have different interpretations of interactive whole class teaching and in some cases teachers can speed up the lessons, and teach in a fast-paced manner. Research has shown that this fast-paced environment had negative effect on pupils who thought and worked more slowly. British Journal of Educational Studies online (2005)
The original frameworks for teaching literacy and numeracy made a significant contribution towards improvement in teaching and learning, and provided ongoing support in primary schools. The Primary National Strategy (PNS) was introduced in 2003, this new strategy combined literacy and numeracy together. Ofsted (2004) When the PNS framework was introduced, its content was slightly changed and these changes included; creating a set of clearer outcomes to support teachers in planning for progression in literacy and numeracy and the introduction of new electronic materials that can be used to enhance the learning of literacy and numeracy. National Strategy online (2010) The introduction of the PNS has been a positive development, and has helped schools and local authorities to refocus on the key priorities and to raise the standards in teaching and learning. Primary National Strategy online (2005)
The introduction of Primary National Strategy and Early Year's Foundation Stage supported teachers to provide quality teaching, which then maximised pupil's learning, and development. However as suggested by Jim Rose, learning to read is extremely important skill which children need to learn during their foundation and early primary stage, these skills need to met in order give pupil's a life-long confidence. Letters and Sounds Booklet (2008) Jim Rose suggested that high quality phonic work must be implemented in primary schools, in order for children to learn how to read. The introduction of Letters and Sounds in 2008, delivered exciting new project. This new project concentrated on giving teachers and practitioners successful phonics teaching tool. This ensured that children are taught to read and spell words fluently and confidently, this is normally achieved by the end of Key Stage One. Letters and Sounds Booklet (2008)
As introduced earlier the main point that I am exploring within this essay is observation and assessment techniques and how such technique is implemented throughout the EYFS and National Curriculum and how does this technique differ from the foundation to the primary stage. Practitioners have to observe children in order to understand their interests and the capabilities they already have. Observation is a process where practitioners watch children while they are engaging in a task or an exercise, to complete observation successfully teachers have to note children's development, listen, and communicate with them. Observation gives teachers and teaching assistants the opportunity to see a child as an individual, and observation and assessment has to be conducted spontaneously throughout the day. Through observation, teachers discover children's new abilities, interests, and skills. Using observation techniques helps teachers to provide the next steps in children's development. Early Years Foundation Stage (2008)
Observation can be carried out in several ways. A most common observation technique is known as 'participant observation' where the teacher and pupil engage in a one to one exercise. Other technique is known as ' incidental and spontaneous' this is where a teacher observes the child while he/she are busy engaging with other children. Once observations have been done they are recorded, most practices use sticky notes as this is the most convenient way of doing this, however in some cases teachers take photographs and video recordings to keep up to date with child's progress in learning and development. Early Years Foundation Stage (2008)
Once observations have been completed, children have to be involved in assessment. An assessment is a process of analysing and reviewing what the teachers already know about the child, their learning, and development. If assessment is carried out frequently this will enable teachers to discover what the child has learnt and developed and what help the pupil may need. The assessment that is carried out in foundation stage is acknowledged and will allow teachers to plan their learning and developmental future goals. Early Years Foundation Stage (2008)
Children in a Key Stage One setting are also observed in their learning, developmental progression, Key Stage One setting slightly differs from the Foundation Stage setting, and children are observed in different ways. This is because teachers have to consider other factors such as the core subjects that have been set out according to the National Curriculum. Abbott & Roger (1994)
Close observation and interaction with children will help teachers to understand the child is learning and developmental needs. Structured observation within key stage one is achieved by, looking out for particular skills and behaviour that children show. Children will bring a lot of skills and different behaviours from their nursery setting. Many key stage one settings carry out observations by using checklists or tick charts. This is a successful and quick way to observe a child, as this can continue throughout the day and this will give teachers the indication whether the child has improved in that particular exercise, this means that child's progress can be mapped. Anning et al (2004)
There are different types in which teachers can assess within key stage one setting; this can be done in a formative way. This way allows teachers to assess children while they are working on a specific exercise and teachers offer help to pupils in order to achieve improvement. Another way of assessing is in a summative way, this way teachers talk to the child once the work has been completed and reviews the work, then gives the child a mark for their piece of work. Assessment is either long or short term; Long term allows teachers to assess child's progress over a term or year. Short term allows teachers to assess child's work daily or weekly. Children should also be encouraged to assess their own work. Dean (2005)
Assessment key stage one setting is different to assessment in the Foundation Stage, since the National Curriculum has been developed children as young as seven years old have been assessed by tests in preparation of the statutory tests at the end of Key Stage One. These tests have been implemented across all primary schools in England. Anning et al (2004)