ELG’s – is this really progress?
I’ve now had time to fully read the proposed new EYFS Statutory Framework with revised ELG’s and more importantly I’ve also read the commentary on them made by Early Education, all of which is quite valid and sometimes just plain common sense! As they tell us the ‘new’ ELG’s include much ‘tautology’ (their word, not mine – it was my new word for the day – meaning redundant words). They point out that often, just the rationale for the goal is presented, and that there is no useful idea of what this will look like in children’s daily lives. It is clear there is a top-down pressure on this, not unsurprising when you know that there were very few Early Years experts on the panel.
The new ELG’s will be piloted over the next academic year and the Education Endowment Fund (they are the ones who have been given a few million pounds to help support training for Closing the Disadvantaged Gap and EYSEND) are commissioned with evaluating and reviewing the Pilot scheme in the 25 schools that get to trial these new ELG’s. Alongside this Action for Children and National Centre for Social Research will also be involved in the evaluation. The aims of the pilot are apparently to “reduce the assessment and moderation burden on teachers, improve the clarity and consistency of assessments made by teachers, and support children’s early development in language and vocabulary.” I’m not sure why we need new ELG’s to do that though! We are told Action for Children (who also manage Foundation Years.org) will ‘support the introduction of materials’ to the schools and this begs the question ‘what materials do you need to introduce that are not already in existence?’ Is it a mere coincidence then that certain panel members include those from Jolly Phonics and Read, Write, Inc or does this reek of some commercial collaboration taking place along the way? Let’s wait and see on that one…
We can hopefully all have our say in the promised ‘full consultation’ that will take place at the end of the 2019 academic year. I guess it’ll be another Summer Consultation where schools and many settings are away on holiday as the evaluation report is due for publication in Autumn 2019.
What is clear though is that this is going to mean another big change for our industry and one for which we need to prepare for, especially as the DfE aren’t known for giving a lot of notice about changes. So now is the time for us to start the thinking about that process. That said, I don’t think anyone expects (or hopes!) that this draft will reflect the final version, so please don’t go out and start changing your planning and delivery just yet. In fact looking at timescales, if the pilot isn’t being evaluated until at least September 2019, then I can’t see how these can be brought into being until at least 2020. However, we also then have to be prepared for another change that will be impacted by these and any other changes that are likely to be made within the EYFS – and that will be in the Common Inspection Framework that Ofsted uses to judge us. Will they combine this into one huge overhaul? Or will one follow the other, I expect it will hit us all like a whirlwind whenever and in whatever order it does eventually happen. There will be a whole new learning curve to go through whilst we embed new inspections and new outcomes for children. We can but hope some changes might be made for the better, but on current views – I expect not!
It will certainly give us all something to talk in the next round of Ofsted Big Conversations that occur around the country. I will be asking a few at the West Midlands one on 5th October 2018.
And now a question to my fellow early years providers: What do you think you will find most useful to help prepare your team for the changes? Training? Resources? Let me know your thoughts on the whole situation.