Archive for July, 2008

Thursday brought more publicity for the Open Eye campaign, which is challenging aspects of the Government’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) proposals.

I must admit that I’m not completely up to speed with this debate, since early years has never been an area of specialism for me at the TES. However, it does seem that some of the arguments and concerns here are very similar to those affecting the education of 5- to 18-year-olds, including the effects of what might be seen as excessive Government control, the possible over-interpretation of statistics by Whitehall and the unintended consequences of superficially well-meaning policies. The foremost worries, for me, would be that children might be made anxious by the Government targets of this regime, which put pressure on them and those looking after them to achieve from a young age, and that parents wanting a different approach will find it difficult to opt for one. I am aware, however, that the EYFS has many defenders, who say that it will improve much early years provision.

Open Eye had a very favourable write-up in The Times after leading authors and educationists wrote a letter criticising the Government’s latest position on the EYFS. 

The news article is here:

The paper’s leader is here:




- Warwick Mansell

No Comments
posted on July 26th, 2008

Estelle Morris, the former education secretary, today became the latest person to call on the Government to investigate test-driven schooling.

I also found this story, in London’s Evening Standard, interesting:



- Warwick Mansell

No Comments
posted on July 23rd, 2008

Today was an extraordinary day, even notwithstanding the fact that we are in the middle of arguably the biggest education story for years: the current test marking fiasco.

What was remarkable was that Barry Sheerman, Labour chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, chose to put out a press release in response to the Government’s own reaction to his committee’s report on assessment, which had highlighted widespread problems.

Ministers, he said, had “missed the point”  by being unwilling to concede that teaching to the test was a widespread problem. Widespread teaching to the test, which many schools feel forced into because of the pressures of the Government’s league tables/target/inspection regime, has been documented by many organisations. This week, in a letter to the committee, Christine Gilbert, chief inspector of schools, pulled together Ofsted’s evidence on teaching to the test, which is pretty extensive.

Mr Sheerman also took the Government to task for quoting Ken Boston, the head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, selectively. The Department for Children, Schools and Families’ response quoted Dr Boston’s view that he thought national tests were fit for purpose, but not that there were problems with using test results for too many purposes.

“It is a pity that the Government has not taken this opportunity to make a commitment to reform the national testing system in order to ensure that children and teachers get the most out of their education experience,” said Mr Sheerman.

Paul Holmes, a Liberal Democrat member of the committee, accused ministers of an “ostrich-like” refusal to accept the evidence.

The Government and Ofsted responses are available here:

The Committee’s latest statement, including Mr Sheerman’s comments, is here:

- Warwick Mansell

1 Comment
posted on July 22nd, 2008

…One and all. I will be keeping it updated regularly.

- Warwick Mansell

No Comments
posted on July 15th, 2008