Editor's view - Reception: a tug of war

Monday, April 1, 2019

The battle for the soul of Reception class practice is growing fiercer and its place in the Early Years Foundation Stage looks shaky.

In our regular in-depth focus on 'EYFS Best Practice in Schools', we aim to highlight examples of inspiring and appropriate approaches to teaching and learning in school nursery and, particularly, Reception classes.

In this issue, we delve into mathematics and the current struggle over the concept of 'maths mastery'. There is concern that the Teaching for Mastery programme that has sprung from government appreciation of Shanghai's teaching methods is being applied to Reception children in a watered down fashion.

We examine why the wider concept of 'mastery orientation' in maths can sit well with the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage in deepening children's understanding and learning.

This theme is typical in exemplifying the tensions inherent in Reception class practice over many years.

However, it feels as though the struggle to win the territory of Reception is intensifying, through recent policy moves and ones that appear likely.

There is the draft revision of the Early Learning Goals, still offering a retrograde and divisive approach in their current form.

New EYFS guidance has been promised and is apparently under way, but DfE said some time ago that this would be for younger children - presumably pre-Reception.
Add to this the Baseline, shifting the emphasis of assessment from the end of the EYFS with the Profile to the beginning of Reception. And the lingering effects of Ofsted's Bold Beginnings, let alone the very different feel of its inspection handbooks for early years and schools (including Reception).

You can't help but suspect that Reception is being prised away from the EYFS and is being primed for its own curriculum, likely to move it further away from the best early years practice, not nearer.

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