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Early Years Sector Council Report - March 2017

Sector Council: Early Years       

Date of Meeting: 21/02/17

Policy Issues

  • The council discussed the report of the Assessment Reform Group and the forthcoming DfE Assessment Consultation. The council supports the introduction of a national baseline assessment or ‘start of school assessment/ on-entry profile’ carried out in the first term of Reception Year as suggested in the report (although there are pros and cons with various times and points of assessment) with the recommendations that assessment is observation-based and practitioner led. The assessment should be designed with significant input from EY experts and practitioners and should not be used for specific individual pupil target settings or predictions of future attainment.

There was much discussion around the strengths and weaknesses of the current Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. The council supports its retention; it gives a comprehensive summary of a child’s development at the end of the Foundation Stage and ensures that YR children are taught an appropriate curriculum for their age and stage of development. However it is also complicated to administer and could be open to manipulation. It would be strengthened by further emphasis on PSED including self. Council members would support its wider use with other agencies and professionals e.g. in health to ensure continuity and a common language and understanding.

  • To help highlight some of their concerns the sector council is proposing the following motion to National Conference: The Early Years Foundation Stage is a critical phase in a child’s development. It requires a unique approach, led by highly skilled practitioners.There is a growing pressure on schools to move towards formalised learning from an increasingly young age largely due to the pressures of Key Stage One assessment arrangements.Conference instructs National Executive to lobby the government to ensure that the Early Years Foundation Stage remains protected within our schools and that the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is retained.
  • 30 hours free childcare: There are ongoing concerns around the capacity of childcare providers and LAs to deliver the Government’s initiative and the lack of clear guidance to parents and providers. The DfE have awarded a 2 year national support contract to Childcare Works (Oct 16) to meet the challenge of enabling delivery of the extended entitlement and a recommendation to share this information with NAHT members. Academic research shows that 15 hours of good quality childcare/education has the most impact on future development and attainment and is ‘the right dose’. A ‘toxic home environment’ is considered to have the most negative impact on development and therefore, the council maintain the stance that the increased entitlement should be offered to all families to reduce the risk of widening the attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and other pupils. We noted that in Wales, the increased entitlement is targeted towards more disadvantaged pupils.
  • The council strongly supports and promotes the opportunities here for positive partnership working between schools and other settings (PVIs/ Childminders) to provide 30 hours.
  • Early Years Workforce: The Government is about to release its strategy with recommendations on the future of the Early Years Teacher Qualification and the requirement for GCSE English and Maths at Level 3. The council believes the current EYT qualification without QTS lowers the status of teaching in the early years and is failing to attract candidates. Recruitment to the training is falling year on year.
  • We are surprised by the recent research findings from LSE. Overwhelmingly, research has shown that where learning is led by graduates, qualified teachers and by the best qualified staff, outcomes for children are higher. The council also noted that male recruitment into Early Years teaching is very low and concerning. This has been taken up by NAHT Equalities Committee.
  • To help highlight some of these concerns the sector council is proposing taking the following motion to National Conference: “Early Years education plays a crucial role in a child’s life chances. The professionals working with our youngest children play a critical role in supporting their development and learning.Teachers who work in the Early Years deserve the same status and level of respect as all other teachers within the profession. It is not right that the current Early Years Teacher qualification does not come with Qualified Teacher Status. Conference instructs National Executive to lobby government for a review of Early Years teacher training so that Early Years teachers are afforded the same level of qualification and status as all other professionals.”
  • Early Years Pupil Premium. EYPP was introduced in April 2015 as additional funding for 3-4 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Research
  • The DfE released SEED: Experiences of the EYPP in January 2017with recommendations to standardise eligibility criteria, remove administrative burdens on parents to complete applications, provide more guidance on how to evaluate spending and impact. The council supports these recommendations.
  • The council welcomed an invitation from AAG for an early years representative on its body, Kevin Baskill will be our representative.

Advice and Guidance Required

·         Guidance for members on the 30 hours free childcare entitlement is available on the NAHT website. However, further evidence still needs to be gathered from members around how they and local authorities intend to implement the new entitlement.

Training and Events opportunities

  • EY Conference 6 October 2017, Birmingham

Issues to Communicate to members

  • Information on the Early Years Pupil Premium: SEED: Experiences of the EYPP

Opportunities to raise the profile of the sector and council activity

  • Members of the council have attended APPG meetings on the future of Maintained Nursery Schools
  • Members have contributed to articles in Nursery World
  • Members have contributed to The Hundred Review of Reception Practice
  • The chair and servicing officers have met/ spoken with leaders of Early Years Associations e.g. PACEY, Save the Children and The Pre-School Learning Alliance and NDNA to extend the council’s network, profile and influence.
  • James Bowen has blogged and written on Early Years matters in TES
  •  Members of the council are active on Twitter.

Member recruitment and retention

  • We continue to raise the profile of the Council as above, and to promote NAHT Edge where possible.



Page Published: 20/03/2017