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Dear parents/ carers, and educators
We are beginning a series of blogs and exchanges which will help support families and children learning together at home.
Through these blogs we aim to provide an inspiring resource to families, so that home learning can be an exciting and joyful experience. The blogs will appear once a week on our website and on social media, and will include some ideas for you and your children to explore at home.We would like to share experiences of children and families in the blogs and invite you to participate by sending us your photographs, videos, notes from your family explorations. We'd be able to share some of your experiences on our blogs and on our social media pages – this will all help build a lively picture of parents and children around the country imaginatively exploring, learning and being together. We are in an enforced situation, but we can maximise the joy and playfulness and new perspectives which are hidden in our everydays.
Some of the things we anticipate that the explorations will include are:
- working with different learning spaces at home (including the kitchen)
- materials and imagination
- story telling
- den building
- dressing up
- working with children's questions and ideas.
Click HERE to go to the page on our website where you can subscribe to our blogs post and also sign up to participate in sharing your s and your children's' experiences.
Even over the Easter weekend, we have had some lovely early responses to the suggested first focus 'Out of the Window' and will be sharing these soon.
Out of the Window
Look out of your window: - Draw a picture of what you can see – either the whole view or something in particular that you like. Tell us about your drawing: what can you see? How does it make you feel?
We plan to share and develop this theme,, as the responses to this open invitation come in, and to offer - and to get - further suggestions.
Traps & Tenderness
Here's an example of a mother and son exploring, reflecting and learning together: a holiday occasion brought back and built upon at home, which gave everyone much intrigue, learning. and satisfaction.
You can read it on our website HERE.
I am just back from encounters with a network of early childhood educators in Yamanashi prefecture, a large district to the West of Tokyo.
The plan has grown over conversations spanning a few years, following Professor Asami Akiyama's participation in a Sightlines Initiative Reggio Study group some years ago. We have been able to have good discussions during this time, as she has been doing research at Newcastle. We discussed many things, including the action-research projects of Sightlines (in 2018 we held an online seminar on 'Adventuring in Early Childhood Education') the varying fortunes of early childhood education in the UK, governments' general attitudes to education and creating autonomous professional development movements.
Professor Akiyama is involved with a network of early childhood educators in the district of Yamanashi, and also working to influence the direction of the Prefecture's early childhood policy and services, and her invitation was intended to help shift thinking and practice. From my perspective it was a wonderful opportunity to test out how our work and principles would be examined by an entirely fresh group of educators, and also to begin to discover how this new-to-me culture valued children, and education.
For me, it has been extremely energising, refreshing and reassuring to encounter early childhood services - I was able to visit three centres of different types – and the network group – which weren't ground down by effects of egregious government policy.Consistently I met with happy places and people – children, educators, parents. The educators and schools were all in their different ways committed, grounded, researchful, curious and above all loving and humane with their children and their overall intents. A phrase from the UK Children's Act came to mind – 'the welfare of the children is paramount' – would that were actually the case in the UK. We have all learnt much from the encounter so far, and are motivated to continue and develop further.
The government and its departments continue to march determinedly over the lives of children, with yet another round of its damaging test regime*.
We have produced an inspiring film for SATs results day, reassuring children that the tests do not measure all that they can do. The film features famous faces including author Michael Rosen, actor Adil Ray, musicians Andy Gangadeen and Dunstan Bruce, Caroline Lucas MP, comedian Zoe Lyons and podcasting duo, the Scummy Mummies, as well as parents, teachers and children. It has received over 150,000 views in 24 hours on social media.
Sara Tomlinson, spokesperson for campaign group, More Than A Score commented: "The Department for Education's announcement comes at a heavy price for schools, teachers and, most of all, pupils. Over a third of year 6 pupils have been told that they have 'not reached the expected standard' based on a very narrow set of tests, taken under pressurised exam conditions. Branding children as failures just before they start secondary school risks turning them off learning altogether. Many of those pupils will have spent months focusing on just English and maths to prepare for SATs. They will have missed out on a broad and stimulating curriculum at a critical point in their education. It's not right or accurate to base a school's overall performance on the test results of 10 and 11-year-olds. There are more supportive ways to assess children and fairer ways to measure schools, without the need to turn pupils into data-points. The tide is turning in the assessment debate. Over 90% of primary school leaders want the current system to change and all opposition parties have pledged to a fundamental review.
The time has come for the government to listen to those who know pupils best. Parents, teachers, heads and experts agree: our children deserve better."
See more about the campaign at More Than a Score.
*In multiple Parliamentary questions, government ministers have re-asserted that they fully intend to continue with this regime (See The Cat is Out of the Bag)