Ex-Archbishop recommends delaying school till seven(43 Posts)
I'd delay testing but not necessarily school. What do you think?
In most places year 1/primary 1/first grade starts at age 6. I saw a very good documentary on education in Finnland where kids start at 7.
Personally I think he is right. From a psychological/developmental point of view its a good point to start too. However, the social structure of this country would not tolerate it. Too many people need child care. It would require a complete change in thinking and policies.
I totally agree, state funded nurseries until then to adddress the childcare issue & let the kids learn through play, going into more formal education at 6/7.
Works in Scandanacia amongst others, & I don't see any reports of huge learning defecits in later life.
Works in Italy we have state ( and private) preschools 3-6 generally play loads of activities then the last year preparation for elementary starting at 6. My dd started at 6 ok her handwriting is not as good as that of her English equivalents but her reading and maths certainly are . ( seeing the state of Italian schools I am not sure if she will continue to be on a par when we move into secondary !)
Its so the opposite of what Gove will ever want though isn't it. He seems opposed to anything not measurable and opposed to play based learning. :-(
hellokittymania - and that's basically true here too. YR is mostly learning through play and getting ready for Year 1. We're not dramatically out of step.
And we definitely shouldn't be listening to ex Archbishops, just on a point of principle. I mean, as Archbishes go, he's my kind of guy, but he really wouldn't be my point guy on, say, education or child psychology. Just sayin'.
Same in Switzerland, formal education starts at 6, there is kindergarten which is not compulsory,but recommended.
So there wouldn't be further demands for childcare, just less pressure on children in the reception years of 4-5 years old. Kids here go on hikes, sing songs, play, cook, learn how to listen and interact at that age.
At 6 they are then expected to become formal - desk based learning, so a big switch over.
One thing they'd need to take into account is class sizes though. With less years dedicated to early years education you can't really have a class of 34 children (as was the size of my DS class before we left the UK) I'd have thought. Class sizes here are generally capped at 18 so there is plenty of teacher:pupil time.
I would love to see smaller class sizes. My daughters pre school had about 25 children and at least 4 staff . Her school reception has 28 and 2 staff. The individual attention made the difference.
When was an archbishop ever an expert on education. My daughter loves reception and has lots of play. I suspect that critics of the early starting age of British children have never set food in a reception classroom.
I feel that current OFSTED regime where head teachers are reduced to being suidical is more of a concern than the early years.
Well, he was always more of an academic than an 'archbishop' in many ways - if it said 'Fellow of Oxford college says .....' would it change our view of whether the person was speaking with expertise?
I agree with this actually. I feel starting too early leads many dc to feel they are not good at schoolwork, that they cannot do maths, that reading or writing is difficult, etc. I would much prefer more time spent playing, in particular being outdoors in all weather, being active - and also working with their hands (cooking, woodwork, pottery, even hands-on work such as building a fence together, painting a wall, if relevant etc). They should be read to but not have to learn to read IMO and sit down to do formal learning from books
I agree with him, actually - if you look at countries where the start of formal learning is later, they have higher literacy rates than we do. Mind, those countries also tend to have better societal provision in all sorts of ways, so it's difficult to say which helps. I mean, social divisions are much less marked in those places, and I think there is some indication that poverty is the greatest barrier to learning. We're just not very enlightened in the UK in lots of ways.
I work in Reception and class size is 30 with one teacher and myself (TA). Our LA wanted us to take up to 5 more children this year which was challenged by Head.
Although the curriculum is supposed to be very play orientated the amount of pressure on getting these 4 and 5 yo to read, write and learn numbers has increased substantially over the last year as they are underperforming in Yr 2 (SATS). It doesn't seem to matter if they are developmentally ready or not. I have an EY degree and find it hard to reconcile this with my job atm. We need to slow down.
Oh yes and I'd definitely scrap the Y2 SATs, having watched my son go from being a happy engaged pupil who had a real thirst for learning into being a stressed-out miserable wreck by the time the 3rd term in Y2 rolled around, due to his teacher constantly telling him what level she expected of him, panicking if he had a day off "because you want to do well in your exams, don't you", sending the class home with a whole booklet of fucking comprehension exercises to be done in the Easter holidays etc. He's only just now getting to like school again and he's in Y4! It did him an immense amount of damage and, contrary to what the teacher's aim was, definitely slowed down his progress.
I teach Reception and definitely agree about starting formal schooling later. I have 4 year olds who simply aren't ready to learn to read and especially write and yet, the expectations of those who set the agenda means that I have to get them reading/writing.
I just can't understand why, if we have to follow the model of another country, it can't be Scandinavia rather than Asia.
It annoys the pants off me when a child who can't hold a pencil is expected to trace over yellow highlighter in order to tick a box on a literacy sheet. It should be developmental stages of children not their ages that guide formal learning.
FranSanDisco, it must be immensely frustrating for you; I mean, you actually know what you are talking about, you know what you are doing, you understand the theory and the practice, and yet some idiot with a portfolio (and an agenda) comes along and tells you to ignore everything you have learnt because he thinks it will buy him votes with Middle England.
but then at the same time we have posters on the Primary board moaning that little Tarquin is not getting enough homework in year R ....
I agree with him. I think there should state funded nursery play based provision (non-compulsory) from age 3-6 with formal schooling beginning at 7.
Many countries have kindergarten that helps deal with the socialisation stuff, then a later start to formal learning, I remember reading that the UK has a higher rate of dyslexia as some children's brains are just not ready aged 4/5, and learning to read at 6+ makes it easier all round.
Scandinavia has a system of tax subsidised high quality childcare with highly trained staff and places for everybody. If the British taxpayers are willing to pay for that, fine... But that's what it would take: I don't think we can now go back to a system that depends on one SAHM/family.
abbiefield: "the social structure of this country would not tolerate it. Too many people need child care. It would require a complete change in thinking and policies."
I've never properly understood the school-as-cheap-childcare argument. Compared to other forms of childcare currently available in this country, school isn't that cheap to the taxpayer. It costs what, about £6k a year for a child to be in a state school? Children are in school for about 1000 hours a year, so £6 an hour.
If people agree that early formal schooling is not educationally beneficial/necessary, and we look only at the childcare costs, for £6 an hour shouldn't we be able to finance much better adult:child ratios and a better quality of childcare overall than we are currently getting at school?
Quite a few countries start formal learning later than we do. I agree with it. I think there is far too much pressure on children in deception and year 1. Boys in particular are just not ready and with regard to writing are not physically ready to write. In fact I think Denmark start boys a year later than girls. I knew a Danish woman who had boy/girl twins and she said this was the case.
We could still have 'school' for that age. Just delay the reading/writing. Call it kindergarten - play, socialisation, etc. just no formal learning.
And don't get me started on SATS!
Well, the archbishop has every right to say what he thinks of education. Goves has no eduction training, yet he is making some very big and dangerous decisions about the education system.
We push you g children far to quickly. Many are not developmentally ready until 7. By that point in England, they already think they are failures.
"I think there is far too much pressure on children in deception and year 1."
at "deception". I guess some children, and some parents, believe that kids will get to spend all their time playing during their first year at school and find it is not what they'd expected.
I don't agree.
I haven't seen "far too much pressure" in reception and year 1. They are learning at their own pace whilst also learning through play.
We used to live in a european country. Children start school at 3, but they only start "formal" learning at 7. However, there were 2 preschool trained teachers (not teaching assistants) doing absolutely brilliant work with the little ones. And when formal learning started at 7 the pace was extremely fast. No time for any catching up.
I really think the uk system is better.
LOL at deception! It was the middle of the night!
"And when formal learning started at 7 the pace was extremely fast. No time for any catching up."
But isn't that the point? The pace is fast because it can be, because practically everyone is ready. Seven year olds don't need to slave away for years and years just to grasp the basics, in the way that children often have to do if they start at four. The children I have known who have started learning to read after the age of seven do not find it such a tediously slow process as most four year olds do.
I love you Rowan Williams
Mavis, I am in the same boat as you with some of my class. Plus pressure to 'get results' from SLT who don't know the EYFS curriculum or appreciate that Literacy and Maths are only a part of it.
Also in Europe. They start at 6-7 where I am. They have to be able to read and write cursive when they start, or are basically judged as needing extra help.
2-3 hours homework a day. Which is obligatory.
They do the equivalent of SATS (ie national tests in literacy and numeracy) at 7, 11 and 14.
Plus ca change and all that. They do EXACTLY the same, at the same age, as the UK. It's just that they do it in a different school! The reading and writing learning how-to comes at nursery. Which everyone attends from the age of 3, full time.
I have had people here saying basically the opposite of what people in the UK always say: "Oh, how on earth do they manage in the UK, starting primary school at 4-5?" So I have this conversation in reverse....that they do, yes, but it's like the last 2 yrs of nursery here.
I think you can have really good play-based nursery education that still prepares children for making speedy progress in maths and literacy later on when they are ready. It's great that they socialise and helped to recognise shapes, learn to take turns, listen, explore materials, build up motor skills and develop language. But putting them in school before they are potty trained is really not on:
I totally disagree. Teach them from the age of 3, they are more than ready. Its time to stop all this namby pamby learn through play rubbish the old fashioned way is the way forward in this increasingly hard world we live in.
Well, if schools can afford extra assistants to clear up when they wee on the floor and fall asleep in their mashed potato, that's all right then. Personally I know childminders who do a good job of this and their hours are more practical for working parents than a school. But would you prosecute parents for non-attendance or would this be voluntary?
We were in the Dutch system for several years. There they started at 4 (the day after 4th birthday wherever that fell in the year). This meant that the reception teacher always had a few 'newbies' but never a whole class full. I dont think I ever saw her without one of the newbies on her knee!
The first two years were spent in learning to go to school. Towards the end they were also preparing for more forma literacy lessons. Lots of building fine motor skills.
By the time they actually started learning to read/write they were more than ready and were also taught beautifully neat handwriting.
Start early but dont start the formal learning until later IMO.
Not quite sure I agree with slickrick - smacks too much of Dotheboys Hall!
My DD learnt how to read, write, do all her tables by speed and was working at level 2A by the time she was 5 because she was taught at a great nursery. The whole class was working at the same level. Learning early has kept her way above average for the whole of her education.
As an aside my DS was not taught formally until he was in year one and has found learning much harder and less enjoyable, needless to say DS2 was taught from the age of 3 and is way ahead of his peers.
I think schools need to adopt more free play, tailored approaches to each child instead of being factory farms to churn out drones who can read and recite their timetables <exaggeration>
But seriously, we need more teachers per child not 30+ class sizes which cannot be effective.
Gove goes on about private sector schools being better - the biggest factor will be the smaller class sizes. Will he sort that? Will he fuck.
Korea has class sizes of 90+
I think it should be much more child led. In retrospect neither of my girls was ready to learn to read until yr2, but were good with numbers before that. Ds is already reading although not starting until next Sept. His brain just seems ready to read - he is reading words on TV, shops, etc and can do it without pain and procrastination. It also helps that he only does half days so he is fresh and ready to read rather than being exhausted from school all day. He is benefitting from being at home but he could have coped academically in school this year more than his sisters did even though they were 5 months older when they started. Flexibility and child centred learning would be best with children supported to either be at home (with places kept for late starters) until 6/7 or part time or full time but with child led teaching. Not going to happen for the price we pay, but we can dream!
I was an early years teacher with an early years specialist degree working in a school nursery. I finished this Easter to look after my own child. If the school system continues the way it is under Gove we are seriously considering home schooling. I would jump at the chance for my child to start his formal learning later.
In my previous school pressure came from top down if children weren't performing in yr1, yr2, yr6 etc we had to do more and earlier in the nursery and reception classes. Nothing is taken in to account that some children enter school without basic skills such as putting on a coat, recognising their own name, been able to go the toilet on their own, sharing equipment and talking in a sentence.
An example of one activity that happens daily with the reception children is they that sit at a table for 15 minutes to write with no input or interaction from any adult, to get them ready for year 1. Some of these children only make marks, no letters/numbers or words. Some of the children will cope but some will not are we not setting these very young children up to fail and be labelled as failures at the start of their school life.
I do agree it should be child led. My youngest DD was very ready for school and gobbles up anything put in front of her. DS has always needed longer.
A system such as slickrick describes would have been fine for my DD but would have destroyed DS's confidence completely.
Not all children are ready at the same age.
You know, I don't really give a toss about class sizes normally - plenty of research says it makes less difference than a good, experienced and well trained teacher. But under six I think it does matter. In my DD's school in reception they had a classroom teacher, an extra floating teacher who did quite a lot work in reception and a classroom assistant. So all their phonics work was in groups of 10 a couple of times a week while the rest would play or go into other groups. It was best of both worlds. But that was before testing. Also, they were in classes according to age (summer/winter born) and only went full time after their fifth birthday - that has since changed.
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