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South Yorkshire branch event - Learning with Purpose in the Early Years - OFSTED as the sole arbiter of quality - Curriculum making with children


OFSTED as the sole arbiter of quality: A critical analysis of policy versions of pedagogy and curriculum in ECE

Dr Elizabeth WoodProfessor of Education, University of Sheffield

Ofsted has now become the ‘sole arbiter of quality’ in early childhood education, and exerts considerable influence in matters of pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, play and school readiness. However, the underpinning ‘research’ on which Ofsted draws includes government statistics for EYFS outcomes, HMCI commentary, government ‘standards’, and selected research reports (often government-funded) that match or reinforce the OFSTED perspective. Wood (2019) has questioned the broad generalisations made from these ‘findings’ and has identified the circular discourse in which OFSTED defines and inspects provision based on policy constructions of ‘good’ or ‘effective’ practice.

In this presentation Elizabeth juxtaposes policy constructions of pedagogy and curriculum with the international research and evidence base. She will argue that the standards and performance agenda is in conflict with a broad and balanced education for young children.

Elizabeth will address the following questions:
• How do policies construct a persuasive discourse through policy-led evidence?
• How does OFSTED move from persuasion to coercion?
• What are the key policy messages about pedagogy and curriculum in the EYFS framework?
• What alternative international research evidence can be used to inform ECE?

Curriculum making with children:
Respecting and responding to diverse interests, experiences and ideas

Dr Liz Chesworth, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, University of Sheffield

In this session, Liz will introduce the concepts of Funds of Knowledge, Funds of Identity and Working Theories to illustrate some ways in which children's everyday lives, including their engagement in digital worlds, are rich contexts for curriculum making. Liz will draw upon international research to discuss some ways in which these concepts can enable practitioners to:
• Notice and respond to complexity in children’s play
• Co-construct a curriculum with children, based upon respect for children as being competent and knowledgeable
• Create broad, balanced and playful learning experiences that are responsive to children’s diverse interests, experiences and ideas

Thursday, 17 September, 2020
5.30pm - 7pm
Webinar – link will be sent to registered participants
Dr Elizabeth Wood; Dr Liz Chesworth
£5 for Members/Students, £10 for non-members If you are an Early Education member, please ensure you are logged in to receive the discounted rate. If you would like to pay the student rate, please email
How to book: 
Enter your delegate details and book your place using the online form below. Details of how to join the webinar will be sent approximately 24 hours before the session. If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact:
Speaker Bios: 

Dr Elizabeth Wood, Professor of Education, University of Sheffield

Elizabeth Wood is Professor of Education at the University of Sheffield. Her research focuses mainly on early childhood and primary education, with specific interests in play and pedagogy; curriculum and assessment in ECE; teachers’ professionalism and professional knowledge; policy analysis and critique. Her work on play has international reach and influence, and she is Visiting Professor at the University of Auckland, and Australian Catholic University Melbourne.

Dr Liz Chesworth, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, University of Sheffield

Liz Chesworth is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield where she directs the full-time Masters in Early Childhood Education. She has worked in the field of early childhood education for 25 years, during which she has taught in nurseries, children’s centres, primary schools and universities. Liz’s current research focuses upon play, curriculum-making and creative pedagogies. She is the Principal Investigator for a research project funded by the Froebel Trust which explores curriculum decision-making and complexity in children’s play within a multi-diverse pre-school setting.

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