‘Bold Beginnings’ a report by Ofsted on the Reception curriculum, has provided an outcome that many EYFS and Key Stage 1 practitioners would not be surprised to hear – the curriculum gap between Reception and Year 1 must be closed to aid the transition between the year groups. However, it remains to be seen if Ofsted’s suggestions are going in the right or wrong direction after their report was released.
The report states, “for too many children…their Reception year is a missed opportunity that can leave them exposed to all the painful and unnecessary consequences of falling behind their peers.” Particular concerns surround children on free school meals who statistically enter Year 1 at a lower average level than their classmates.
Ofsted also concluded that the Reception assessment strategy was too far removed from the requirements of Key Stage 1. They added, “many teachers were devising tasks simply to tick off and record elements of the early learning goals, rather than developing a proper plan that focused on progression in learning.”
The suggestion from Ofsted is to focus more time on literacy and maths skills rather than “collecting and recording children’s achievements.” However, the focus on aligning Reception to be more like Key Stage 1 rather than vice-versa has raised concerns with some professionals.
A spokesperson from the Preschool Learning Alliance told Tes, “we have long argued that the principles of the early years foundation stage should be extended further up into primary education, rather than the principles of Key Stage 1 being extended down into the early years.”
Research in Finland, home to Europe’s ‘top education system’, suggests that structured play is the best approach for children under the age of seven. The emphasis is not on maths, reading or writing but creative play.
Tiina Marjoniemi, the head of an early years setting in Finland, told the Guardian newspaper, “we believe children under seven are not ready to start school. They need time to play and be physically active. It’s a time for creativity.”