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Ready…Steady…Test – the schoolification of Early Years

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In this interactive infographic, Sarah Christie brings together the key facts and opinions about the current trend in the UK for increasingly formalised education for children at an ever-younger age.

Click the image below to view and interact with the infographic.

Schoolification infographic

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2 Responses to Ready…Steady…Test – the schoolification of Early Years

  1. Chris N Tuesday, 31 March 2015 at 14:29 #

    “Most children will be just four when they are completing the new assessments in language and communication, literacy and numeracy. Some will only just have celebrated their birthdays.”

    On average, children will be four and a half. However, this is irrelevant since these are baseline assessments to be used to measure future progress, not judgments on where the children are when they enter school.

    “A narrow, curriculum-based approach is considered inadequate for young children in this crucial stage of development.”

    But no one is suggesting adopting any such thing. That’s what we had when my daughter was in reception in 1995, and that’s why the new Early Years Curriculum was brought in. Modern reception classes in no way resemble those earlier ones.

    “Should this be replaced with a pedagogical approach based on social constructionism that will better prepare children for a lifetime of learning?”

    There is no evidence that social construcionist approaches are superior, particularly for less advantaged children, and cognitive psychologists have pointed to some reasons why this is the case. This article, for example, raises some serious questions about the social constructionist approach, citing relevant academic studies: http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_4_pre-k.html

    “Most children in the UK start school in the September after their 4th birthday. This early start places them alongside just 12% of children around the world. The remaining 88% start at 6 or 7.”

    The international database maintained by UNESCO puts the UK entrance age as 5, not 4. This is presumably because children actually have an average age of 4.5, not 4, and because reception is still in the early years curriculum, so English children are 5.5 on average when they start year 1. Finnish children start school at 6, but since the first year is similar to our reception, UNESCO gives their starting age as 7. While this is still a significant difference, your constant references to children who are only just 4 seem designed to inappropriately exaggerate that difference.

    I am not unsympathetic to children starting school later, but this kind of blatant bias is contrary to the standards to be expected of an academic researcher.

  2. Sarah Christie
    Sarah C Tuesday, 31 March 2015 at 16:53 #

    Thanks, Chris, for your very detailed critique and I will certainly take a look at the links you have provided and reflect on the points you’ve raised. I regret that I don’t have the time at this juncture to address your points individually but I hope that you have found the interactivity of the infographic (by opening the pdf) which takes you to my sources for most of the points you raise. I would certainly agree that my piece reflects a polarised view of the issue and actually, given the nature of the beast (the infographic) I’m not sure it is possible to have done much more. It *is* a view that many people share, however, and I thought it an important one to represent. Nevertheless, I welcome your opposing arguments and the opportunity you have given other readers to access the material for the points you make and ultimately make their own minds up. Perhaps you could shape your comments into a piece for Considered – I’m sure the editors would welcome it!