Review calls for Reception Year to stay in EYFS

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The crucial role the Reception year plays in young children’s development and learning is highlighted in a new report out on Monday.

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The Hundred Review found overwhelming support for keeping Receoption in the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum

More than 4,000 Reception Year (YR) teachers, head teachers and school leaders have contributed to the review into reception class teaching, launched last year by training organisation Early Excellence.

The authors claim that The Hundred Review is ‘the biggest ever listening and learning exercise focused on Reception’.

The review revealed ‘overwhelming support’ from teachers for Reception to remain part of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

The Conservative manifesto, published yesterday, includes a reference to strengthening the teaching of literacy and numeracy in the early years so that all pupils, regardless of background, get the best possible start in life.

The Hundred Review found evidence that effective YR teaching supports the teaching of early literacy and maths.  

Early Excellence worked with an expert group of early years practitioners to assess the review’s findings.

A key recommendation is that due to ‘overwhelming support from school leaders and teachers…the DfE should reaffirm its commitment to ensuring that YR remains an integral part of the Early Years Foundation Stage’.

The DfE should also set up an advisory panel of early years experts in the next Parliament, including YR specialists to advise education ministers.The review also found that the vast majority of practitioners use observational assessment, which they believe is more appropriate for Reception children than formal testing.

The Government is currently consulting on primary assessment and is proposing re-introducing a baseline check in Reception, although it is not yet clear how this would work in practice.

jan-dubielJan Dubiel, national director of Early Excellence, said the review provided valuable insights into how effective YR practice works and the challenges, tensions and pressures that early years practitioners face.

‘The Hundred Review highlights the unique and crucial role that Reception Year plays in primary education,; he said. 

‘By bringing together the ideas and experience of thousands of early years practitioners in this way, we have created an authoritative and comprehensive picture of current YR practice and provision.

‘We are pleased to see such strong support and commitment for Reception Year as we know it is vital to a child’s development. The learning behaviours acquired in a child’s early years, such as self-regulation, resilience, and empathy, have a significant impact on life chances, and employment prospects in particular.  

‘Due to the nature of how children learn these important life skills, I am encouraged by the finding that the vast majority of practitioners use observational assessment to gather information about children and that they believe this is how effective assessment should take place in the future.

‘The Hundred Review reinforces again the commitment and passion that early years practitioners have for doing the best for their children, and it’s important they receive the best support possible to help them deliver successful outcomes.’

The review has found ‘valuable insights into how effective YR practice works and explored the challenges, tensions and pressures that practitioners face’.

There is broad agreement about the purpose of YR to engender children’s love of learning and successfully acquire basic skills in the Prime Areas of Learning and Development, Literacy and Maths.

Achieving an effective balance between child-initiated and adult-directed approaches, and differentiating these for children’s level of development, is crucially important for effective teaching and good outcomes, they say.

The quality and nature of the indoor and outdoor learning environment, and leadership are other key themes.

There is a recommendation that in every school, a member of the Senior Leadership Team should have specific responsibility for supporting YR.

Other major themes that were explored, and on which the review makes recommendations, include assessment, transition, how diverse needs are supported in YR, and the importance of starting age.

Early Excellence will be linking up with schools across the country to share the good practice that the Hundred Review has collected.

The report’s findings and the participants’ views will also be disseminated to the Government, policy-makers, Ofsted and multi-academy trusts.

Natalie, an early years teacher from Battyeford Primary in Wakefield said, ‘The Hundred Review has been a great opportunity for the voices of people who love teaching in Reception Year and understand best practice to be heard. Hopefully, together we can let children be children and develop their love of learning.’

Chris Currie, a headteacher at Dixons Academy in Bradford, who took part in the review said, ‘Children deserve the best start to their education possible and the Reception Year lays the foundation for building lifelong skills.’

‘The Hundred Review’ was partly a response to a report published last year on primary teaching practice by the Teaching Schools Council, which was widely criticised by early years experts.

  • For more on The Hundred Review see the next issue of Nursery World, out on 29 May.
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