Baby Curriculum is Nonsense

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Baby Curriculum is Nonsense

Baby Curriculum is Nonsense Baby Curriculum is Nonsense

Curriculum for Babies is Nonsense Minister

Despite national newspaper speculation to the contrary there will be no curriculum for babies.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) consultation has been launched, amid ministerial reassurances that it will not result in a 'curriculum for babies' and more formal learning for young children.

The minister for Children, Young People and Families, Beverley Hughes, launched the consultation last week at the Early Years and Primary Teaching Exhibition in Manchester, sponsored by Nursery World.

The EYFS aims to raise the quality of early years provision, delivering improved outcomes for all children and helping close the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and others.

Announcing the consultation, Ms Hughes said, 'The EYFS has been designed to deliver the quality that children need and the confidence that parents want in childcare.'

The new single framework takes as its starting point the five outcomes set out in Every Child Matters and builds on Birth to Three Matters, the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage and the National Standards for Under-Eights Day Care and Childminding.

Many of its underpinning principles remain the same, but points have been added, such as the need for providers to work more closely together to bring about greater continuity of care.

The consultation also proposes merging the five sets of national standards and the five accompanying sets of Ofsted guidance, and sets out controversial changes to staff:child ratios for settings with three- to five-year-olds (see Nursery World, 20 April).

Equally controversial is the decision to structure the framework around the six areas of learning, which led some experts who had seen earlier drafts of the document to fear that babies and toddlers would be presented with a curriculum of unsuitable activities. There was also concern about the 'influence' of the Rose review and the literacy and numeracy strategies on early years practice.

Ms Hughes was keen to stress that the principles of good early years practice would lie at the heart of the new framework. She said, 'The framework will require practitioners to undertake effective planning, observation and assessment to ensure that provision is based on the progress of the individual child.

'We've seen a lot of nonsense in the press that our proposals will force young children into formal learning too soon. That is not the case. The individual child's experience will continue to be informal, spontaneous and enjoyable. Babies will still play with "gloop" or in the sandpit. Children will still explore, make mistakes and be adventurous.'

Early years consultant Jennie Lindon commented that 'the introductory pages have plenty of sound ideas about good practice' which are 'recognisable from Birth to Three Matters and the Foundation Stage guidance' and 'could set a positive framework'. However, she added, 'The stamp of the Rose Report can be seen in specific requirements around formal phonics and the unrealistic demand that most children will able to read and write before the end of the EYFS.'

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the National Childminding Association, said that she saw the EYFS as 'a positive step forward' but felt that a successful transition could only be achieved through appropriate information and training. 'With local authority budgets already stretched, this will be a tall order without additional investment,' she said.

The DfES plans to produce a non-statutory CD-Rom, giving guidance and examples of good practice, by November and the final document for the framework by the end of the year. The framework becomes statutory in September 2008.

The Early Years Foundation Stage - Consultation on a single quality framework for services to children from birth to five is open until 28 July and can be downloaded at

Nursery World
11 May 2023

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Baby Curriculum is Nonsense

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