Monday, March 24, 2008

Micro Managing Playtime

Key Stage 0 assessment grids authorised by the Hopscotch Standards Agency

As we've probably said before, Tyler's first proper job was working at the old Department of Education and Science. There, he was in a very small minority of people who'd actually had experience of doing The Thing itself. Admittedly, that experience comprised nothing more than completing a one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education and then realising teaching was not for him, but it did mean he'd stood in front of stroppy 14 year olds and attempted to teach.

The only other people in the DES who'd had any experience of this were the HMIs- Her Majesty's Inspectors of Education. But they were kept sequestered away somewhere deep in the bowels and in three years Tyler only ever met one. Anyway, the mandarins viewed them as a bunch of obstructive Luddites - as everyone kept saying, those that can do, those that can't teach, those that can't teach, teach teachers, and those that can't teach teachers, become HMIs.

I was again reminded of this reading today's story about the 500 "development milestones" laid down by the mandarins for Britain's under-fives:

"It sets out 69 early-learning goals that every child should reach after a year at primary school.

Under the Early Years Foundation Stage, children will be checked against more than 500 development milestones before they are five, including whether they babble and gurgle as babies."

Did anyone with actual hands-on experience of teaching young children have any meaningful input to this? Highly unlikely. It all smacks of the old DES mandarins, now given free rein by the loathsome Commissar Balls, and itching to extend their power back to the cradle, and probably beyond.

This is another giant dollop of the box-ticking Stalinist nonsense that has caused such damage to our primary and secondary schools.

And let's be clear: the evidence is that for most children, poor educational attainment is not down to what happens in their early years; the main problem today is what happens to them after they enter the state schooling system.

For example, the recent OECD study into reading standards (PIRLS- see this blog) found that while pupils at English primary schools have slumped in the international league table of reading skills, children entering those schools are three-times more skilled than the international average. It's our state schools that then drag them back.

It's in the nature of commissars to extend their rule to everything. But trust me, the ones round at the DCSF haven't a clue what they're doing.

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