There are four nations which form the UK: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, each of which has approached the planning and delivery of early years education in unique ways. England: Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) England has introduced a statutory curriculum for children aged 0-5 who are being cared for/or educated outside their homes. The EYFS framework applies to childminders, after school clubs, nurseries, pre schools and schools regardless of how they are funded.
The EYFS also incorporates the welfare requirements. The structure of the education programme in England covers the following areas: * Personal, social and emotional development * Communication, language and literacy * Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy * Knowledge and understanding of the world * Physical development * Creative development Children are assessed at the end of reception year.
The teacher completes an Early Years Profile which is made up of thirteen different scales that link to the early learning goals from the areas of learning. Whilst there is strength in having a structured framework, given that formal education does not apply to children of all ages within the EYFS, there is criticism and concern that children who remain at home rather than in formal settings during these early years may be considered to be lacking in skills when they commence formal education (National Curriculum).
The advantages of such a system, however, is that parents can have assurance that carers are providing a sound experience suited to the age and stage of development of their children, and this is quality assured by Ofsted to ensure poor practice is identified and action is taken to rectify this. Wales: Foundation Phase Since August 2008 the Welsh assembly has been phasing in a statutory curriculum knows as the foundation phase. This applies to children aged 3-7 years who are given local authority funding in school, pre schools nurseries and childminders.
The structure of the education programme in Wales covers the following areas: * Personal and social development, well being and cultural diversity * Language, literacy and communication skills * Mathematical development * Welsh language development * Knowledge and understanding of the world * Physical development * Creative development Teachers at the end of the Foundation Phase assess children in three areas: * Personal and social development, well being and cultural diversity * Language, literacy and communication skills in English or Welsh * Mathematical development Scotland: Curriculum for Excellence
At the time of writing this assignment it is reported that Scotland is in the process of introducing a curriculum which includes children for 3-18 years. Underpinning the curriculum is the idea that children and young people should be given experiences in order to progress their development and will learn according to their own level not according to their age. There are eight areas of experiences and outcomes, written at five levels of competency. In addition to the eight areas, there is a responsibility on practitioners to embed health and well-being, literacy and numeracy across the learning opportunities provided for children.
The structure of the education programme in Scotland covers the following areas: * Expressive arts * Health and well being * Languages * Mathematics * Religious and moral education * Sciences * Social studies * Technologies Northern Ireland Once children are in statutory education they will follow the Foundation stage. There are six areas of learning that form the basis of the curriculum and are taken through into key stage 1 and 2. The structure of the education programme in Northern Ireland covers the following areas: * Language and literacy * The world around us Mathematics and numeracy * Personal development and mutual understanding * The arts * Physical development and movement To support the implementation of the national frameworks by practitioners working in the early years sector each nation has developed guidance, information about the statutory elements and training materials.
Although each country in the UK has developed its own approach to the care and education of young children, they also have some common features such as: * Partnership and involvement with parents * Learning through active play Need for children to have opportunities for child initiated and adult directed activities * Education programme is to be delivered holistically although divided into areas of learning * Importance of assessing children’s individual needs There are some differences in the in the nature of work with children under 3 years as it is only England that brings work with children aged less than 3 years into statutory education. As stated above this brings with it advantages and concerns, and this should be viewed pragmatically by those involved. . 2 The development of the early years curriculum has been significantly influenced by the a number of approaches, most notably those listed below: * Reggio Emilia * High/scope * Montessori
* Steiner Reggio Emilia- this is an educational approach inspired by a group of pre-schools in the city and surrounding area of Reggio Emilia in Italy. The approach is focused on working with parents (as partners) and children aged 0-6 years being involved in their own learning. The main features of this approach are that: Children have a level of control over their own play and learning, with teachers acting as a facilitator * Children learn through using all of their senses * Children need to learn from and enjoy being with other children * Children need a rich environment so that they can learn and express themselves in a multitude of ways Influences on the EYFS curriculum from this approach: * Practitioners provide opportunities for child initiated play
* There is a theme entitled Enabling Environment that prompts practitioners to think about how rich the environments are for children * There is an emphasis on sensory and outdoor play There is an emphasis on children learning through play with other children High/scope- the High/scope approach began in the United States as a way of improving outcomes for disadvantaged children, a model with a strong emphasis that children should be involved in decision making and take responsibility. Settings using this approach will typically expect that children learn to plan their own play and learning, review it and also report back to other children. Children are considered to be active learners and so play is used as the model for learning.
Routines are also considered important so that children gain stability. Influences on the EYFS framework from this approach: * Practitioners provide opportunities for child initiated play * Practitioners are encouraged to talk to children about their learning Montessori- this approach originated by Maria Montessori who was an Italian doctor. She wanted to improve outcomes for children with disabilities, and this approach focuses on the importance of the practitioner as an observer of children. Their role is to support children’s learning by making appropriate interventions.
Play with purpose is at the heart of the Montessori as equipment and resources have specific learning objectives and provide children with graduated challenge. Influences on the EYFS curriculum: * Practitioners are meant to observe children individually in order to provide for their play and learning * Practitioners are meant to ensure that children are sufficiently challenged in order to progress their learning * The EYFS guidance gives suggestions as to what children need according to their stage of development
Steiner- this approach originates from that of the philosopher Rudolph Steiner who founded a school after the First World War known as the Waldorf School. The Steiner approach emphasises the importance of fostering children’s creativity and imagination, their understanding and exploration of the natural world and the importance of the practitioner as a role model. Routines form a key part as does a blend of adult directed and child initiated play. Manufactured toys are not used as these are thought to inhibit a child’s natural curiosity and imagination.
Formal reading and writing does not begin until children are 7 years old and there is an emphasis on working according to children’s personalities. Influences of the EYFS curriculum: * Practitioners are meant to plan adult directed play and provide for child initiated play * Play with natural objects is encouraged for babies and toddlers The common core is the name given to six areas of skills, knowledge and expertise that the English government believes to be essential for those working with children and young people.
The common core was established as part of a range of measures taken following the death of Victoria Climbie. The six areas are: * Effective communication * Child and young person development * Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child * Supporting transitions * Multi agency working * Sharing information These areas underpin all initial training. The introduction of the Common Core has affected the approach of settings working with children as it has encouraged greater multi agency working and closer collaboration with other settings. 1. 3
The early years frameworks all focus on the needs of individual children. This is important as children develop at different rates. They are all unique and will come for a variety of backgrounds. This means children will have different needs and interests and will require a range of different opportunities in order to thrive and develop. It is important to understand that extra care is required to support children’s emotional well being as they will be starting to spend longer periods of time away from their parents. The EYFS stresses the importance of personalisation of learning and development experiences. 3. 1
Today it is understood that the best outcomes for children are usually seen when parents and practitioners work together. This forms the basis of the model of partnership with parents or carers. The idea is that while parents and practitioners will have their own roles with children they can come together to share ideas, information and thoughts about the best way forward for the children. I will list some of the ways which settings use to make partnerships with parents or carers. * Open door policy- the idea is that carers do not have to make specific appointments to visit a setting, but know they are welcome at any point. Observations and assessments- it is now understood that children’s records and assessments not only need to be shared with carers but also they should contribute to them. This is because children behave differently with parents or carers and so practitioners can learn more about a child’s development, interests and also needs.
In some settings carers are invited into the setting to observe their child. * Planning and decision making- many settings not only share their planning with parents but also encourage them to contribute with ideas and comments. Working alongside practitioners- many settings invite parents to come and work alongside them. * Practitioners learning from parents or carers- practitioners learn more about children by gaining information from parents or carers. This approach is crucial when children in a setting have a medical condition or disability as carers will be able to help a practitioner learn how to work with their child. * The emphasis on personal and individual development- the four frameworks in the home nations have many similarities in structure as well as differences.
All emphasise play as a key factor in a child’s learning. They also stress the importance of observing children and working with them on the basis of their personal development. This personalisation of learning links closely to inclusion and diversity. 3. 2 Partnership working can run smoothly but there are some barriers that practitioners need to be aware of. * Time- some parents and carers may be short of time. Key ways to exchange information and develop a relationship with parents include parents sessions, home-link books, phone calls and emails.
Confidence- some parents or carers may find it hard to be active in their child’s care and education because they lack confidence. Some carers may feel they do not have anything to offer or their views will not be of interest. To overcome this barrier it is important that a parent’s first contact with us is positive and that our communication skills are excellent. Some settings find home visits helpful and parents feel more comfortable meeting a practitioner in their own home. * Language and literacy needs- some carers may feel they cannot be full partners if they cannot speak English fluently or find it hard to read and write.
A setting can encourage carers to feel that they can bring along someone who can interpret for them. It also means that settings have to think about providing some alternatives to written information and must avoid putting carers on the spot in terms of asking them to read and write. * Disability- some carers have a disability including learning disabilities which may create a barrier in partnership learning. It is essential that settings individualise their approach. * Culture- some parents or carers do not have experience of the culture of working in partnerships.
They may not know what is expected. 3. 3 Although settings may do their best to create partnership working with carers there will still be some people who do not wish to take up the opportunities or who may react negatively. It is important to understand that they have the right not to participate should they choose not to and that they should not be put under pressure to do so. Taking this approach can have some benefits as a more relaxed approach can make carers feel more comfortable. In addition it is important to see if we can find out if there are any reasons why our attempts are not working.
In some cases this may be about style, timing or accessibility. Parents or carers may have suggestions as to how they could be more involved or may have ideas as how to engage with other parents. Settings carry out evaluation questionnaires or have suggestion boxes in order to learn more about what they are doing well and which aspects of their performance they could improve. 3. 4 In addition to settings working closely with families it is important to recognise that this should be taking place in the context of multi agency working.
This means that there is a role for all settings to signpost services and support that other agencies provide and also to help parents or carers use and gather information on different services. It is also important that information about children and their families should not be shared without the carers permission unless there are serious concerns about a child’s welfare. Breaching children and families confidentiality can undermine their confidence in us and may jeopardise any situation in which they approach other professionals in the future.
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