children playing

Early learning 'goals' condemned [UK]

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Publication Date: 
22 May 2008

See text below.


The new national curriculum for babies and toddlers will turn nurseries into formal schools where young children are drilled to learn to read and write, MPs have been warned.

Experts condemned Government rules for "schoolifying" childcare and denying parents the choice to let their children play freely.

The new Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum (EYFS) for children from birth to the age of five will be mandatory for all nurseries and childminders from September.

Among the 69 early learning "goals" in the curriculum, the literacy targets for five-year-olds drew the fiercest criticism for being too hard.

The Government's guidance says five-year-olds should be able to write their names, captions and labels and "begin to form simple sentences, sometimes using punctuation".

Anna Firth, from the Open EYE campaign for a more flexible nursery education, told the Commons children's committee that this writing goal should be scrapped.

Experts feared these goals would put undue pressure on childminders and nursery staff and cause "very young children to have a sense of failure", she said.

Educational consultant Sue Palmer said "thousands and thousands" of nursery staff were worried about the plan.

She said nurseries felt the reading and writing targets would "push down a more formal approach so that we are effectively 'schoolifying' early years care and education".

- reprinted from The Press Association