Early years education

No grammar schools, lots of play: the secrets of Europe’s top education system | Education

It’s a warm September afternoon in the Kallio district of Helsinki. Out in the Franzenia daycare centre playground, groups of four- and five-year-olds roam contentedly. “Would you like an ice-cream?” asks one, having set up her elaborate “stall” on the edge of the sandpit. Kindergarten staff move among the children, chatting, observing and making written notes. There is nothing outwardly distinctive about the centre, though with 200 children, it is the city’s largest. It is a tall, somewhat dour former…

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Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy? | Education

“Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial,” wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. “The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop.”  Neuroscience is huge in early years policy. This week, in what’s been characterised as the largest shake-up of family law in a generation, the 26-week time limit for adoption proceedings has…

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Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego | Education

Parents are squeezing the role of play out of their children’s lives in favour of the three ‘R’s as they try to prepare their offspring for a competitive world, according to the head of Lego’s education charity arm. A lack of understanding of the value of play is prompting parents and schools alike to reduce it as a priority, says Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation. If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier,…

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Fears that new tests will damage four-year-olds ‘unfounded’ | Education

With studious concentration the four-year-old lines up blue plastic bears and counts to five. Then she points to grass in a picture and recognises the letter “g”. She is one of the first children to take the government’s new reception baseline assessments for four and five-year-olds piloted in 9,000 schools and nurseries in England over the past six weeks. The idea of testing such young children as they start school is controversial, especially with early-years teachers and parents who last…

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Ofsted plan to inspect ‘cultural capital’ in schools attacked as elitist | Education

A two-word term, invented in the 1970s by a French sociologist heavily influenced by Karl Marx, makes an unlikely entrance in Ofsted’s new framework [pdf] for the inspection of schools in England this week. Each institution is now to be judged on the extent to which it builds pupils’ “cultural capital”. What exactly does that mean? Users of the term, including the schools minister Nick Gibb and the former education secretary Michael Gove, suggest it is about ensuring that disadvantaged…

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Secret Teacher: teaching children without play was soul-destroying | Teacher Network

One year, during Sats preparation, I watched as a number of my year 2 students cried because the paper was too difficult. I told them not to worry and to just try their best, but inside I felt dreadful. I knew that no matter how hard they cried, I would force them to continue. I’ve been a teacher for five years and I love working with children. But I’ve realised I don’t want to teach them any more. After spending…

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Should pets ever be kept in classrooms? | Education

Watching duck eggs hatch in a classroom was a “wow” experience that brought the topic to life, says Sarah Holmes, teacher in Derby High School’s primary department. “It was a fantastic opportunity for the children to learn about the life cycle, see the ducklings grow and learn to swim. They also learned to take responsibility for looking after them.” Classrooms across the UK house a wide range of school pets: hamsters, fish, guinea pigs and even tortoises. But though they…

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Dear Damian Hinds, let’s put horrid adult experiences on the curriculum | Michael Rosen | Education

I see you’ve been talking to school students about education. I was very interested in your justification for exams being stressful: “…when you leave school, hard and stressful things come along. Learning about what can be stressful episodes is part of the preparation for later life.” I wonder if there is a principle here: whatever horrible experience we have in later life should either be put on the school curriculum or be part of how the curriculum is taught. For…

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Drive aims to increase number of men in early years education in UK | Education – Education Article

A drive is under way to increase the number of men working with the youngest children in the education system, drawing on the success of Norway, which has the highest percentage of male early years professionals in the world. According to latest statistics, just 2% of the early years education (EYE) workforce in the UK is male, a figure that has remained static for decades despite previous targets and greater shared childcare between men and women in the home. Researchers…

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