End "catch up" and let's "build up". Extend principles of quality early education to 7.

End "catch up" and let's "build up". Extend principles of quality early education to 7.

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Keeping Early Years Unique started this petition to Nadhim Zahawi MP (Secretary of State for Education) and

The world has changed forever. It is long past time that our education system changed too. 

Everyday there are stories being printed about the impact of the Covid pandemic on our youngest children. "Children are XX months behind", "Children are not ready for school", "Children can't do this, that or the other", or the idea that families didn't do enough to support their children over lockdown. The deficit model is alive and well. Disrespectful and disingenuous to children, their families and their educators.  

Educators are reporting the challenges (often in relation to communication, social and emotional learning) that they face in the classroom and the frustration at not being able to go back to the basics as they face a relentless "catch up" barrage and a pressure to formalise learning for children who are simply not ready, in a bid to "close the gap" (who defines the gap) and "catch them up (to who- pre pandemic cohorts?) The Governments response has been to offer intervention programmes to schools. However there are issue's with these catch up programmes: they require staff (who schools simply do not have) to run them (and complete the increased workload), they remove already stretched staff from the place they need to be, where they have the most impact- with children in the classroom. These programmes also remove children (quite often the youngest) from the very place they need to be- in their classroom/setting with their peers engaging in purposeful play. 

We need to stop. Take a breath and consider the following: Is the truth of the matter that children are not coping in our schools? Or is in fact the school system that is not coping with the children who are within it?  Is it time for change?  

This petition is now 6 years old, with 50,000 supporters. The need for change is nothing new- but in 2022 it is no longer just a vision, an ideal, a dream- it is a necessity. 

Our children are not lacking. However the system they find themselves thrust into at the age of 4 is.

It is time to what must be done, what has been lacking from policy for far too long. The child. Their voice. Their development. We need to begin with the child. Where they are and build from there- together- schools, parents/carers, outside agencies. What matters in the EYFS (0-5) STILL matters when children are in Year one and two- perhaps now more than ever before:

*Child development

*High quality teaching (interactions and relationships)

*A rich enabling environment which promotes holistic learning

*Play, enquiry and investigation as a powerful and creative vehicle for learning


Of course maths and literacy matter- no one who educates and cares for children would disagree- but these areas of learning require strong foundations, a bedrock to build upon- and right now the system is  simply not laying these foundations- there is no time for what really matters. Instead in a "do it sooner, do it quicker" system the essential foundations are completely ignored.

Language, communication, physical development, personal, social and emotional development (the prime areas of the EYFS) as well as "how of learning" (Characteristics of Effective Learning) are the basis for everything and must be woven through ever drop of learning our children encounter- including reading, writing and maths. 

The good news is that we CAN have a 0-7 curriculum with relationships, environments, play, learning and child development at its core. The early years of life do not end at age 4 or 5 even though the EYFS does.  Ask anyone who is trained in early education- this crucial phase spans birth to  7.  This when the developmental shift occurs and children are ready for learning to become more formal and abstract.  This is why most of the worlds children starting formal schooling at 6 or 7 years old. Not before.


So... NOW is the time that we MUST

*Recognise that  children are not behind and do not need catching up, we cannot speed up their development with scripts, schemes and flashcards.  They have lived through the biggest crisis in our living memory and need an educational experience that reflects and respects this. 

*End the Baseline, phonics screening and SATs permanently. *

*Build a curriculum based on child development, international evidence, work of EYs pioneers and their contemporaries from birth to 7.

*Put mental health, play, child development, wellbeing and relationships at the heart of the curriculum. 

*Work transparently across political parties, across nations and across the sector with practitioners, academics, organisations and communities to build a transformational curriculum for all children 0-7

Let's stand together to make a change for the future. In the past it may have been a dream. Now it’s a necessity. 

We the sector ask that you listen, engage and work with us to give every child the education they need. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
At 75,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!