To the point: Make your voice count

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As the Government rolls on with its plans to set education back by 30 years, consultation follows consultation.

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But who is listening? When ministers decide to do something, they are required to consult, but it's an empty exercise because their minds are already made up.

They lost on ratios, not because they listened to the outcry from the sector or responses to the consultation, but because Nick Clegg broke ranks. It will be difficult for him to put a spanner in the works of the next outrageous plan as he was the one who announced the plan to test children in the three Rs on entry to reception.

But maybe this could be a chance for him to show that he really does listen to the experts, to professionals and to evidence. Or we can hope that the public debate can become so strong that it just can't be ignored. So - even though they have buried the consultation by launching it at the start of the summer break - it's up to us to make sure the arguments against tests for young children are heard loudly and clearly.

The plan to test children at age four (not five, as the Government and press wrongly claim) is buried in a Primary assessment consultation. The Reception year is part of the EYFS, not Primary, and this distinction must be defended. The only justification given for starting children into school so early is that they will receive an appropriate EYFS experience based on sound early years principles. That includes sensitive observational assessment in things that matter - the whole child's well-being and development as a motivated, resilient and creative learner across all areas. Evidence shows that the three Rs are not what support such young children for their future, and they should not be drilled in them.

The Government responses to the consultations on the role of local authorities and to the standards for Early Years Educators and Teachers show their cavalier attitude to evidence from the sector. Majority views on the importance of play were ignored, evidence from local authorities was discounted as if 'they would say that, wouldn't they?' and statistics were represented in misleading ways.

Don't let organisations representing hundreds of members be counted as only one response. Send it in yourself. Write to your MP.

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