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Ofsted report on the Reception Year: a hit and miss affair

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Thursday, 30 November, 2017

In response to Ofsted's report on the Reception Year published today, Early Education's Chief Executive Beatrice Merrick says:

We absolutely agree with Ofsted about the crucial importance of the Reception Year, especially for the most disadvantaged children, for whom gaps that open early are hard to close as time goes on.  The report identifies much good practice which is fully compatible with the existing EYFS, and with Ofsted's own reports on teaching in the early years, and the role of play.  

However, it is deeply disappointing to hear them making some much more questionnable recommendations based primarily on the opinions of headteachers, not on the extensive evidence base in relation to child development and its implications for good early years pedagogy. The EYFS provides firm foundations for all children when taught by teachers who are trained in age appropriate pedagogy.  When excessively formal approaches are used, the gap will widen especially for boys, summer born children, those with SEND. 

For example, suggesting children should spend more time writing at tables age 4 overlooks that not every child is ready to sit still for sustained periods at that age - young children need the right activities to support their physical development so that they will be able to sit still and use a pencil at the appropriate stage.  

The supposed workload issues around the EYFS profile are another indicator of where lack of early years expertise is turning a simple summary of what teachers already know about children's learning into an unnecessary bureaucratic exercise - the need for review of the Profile is much overstated. 

If we are to give every child the best possible Reception experience, Ofsted and government need to engage with the evidence base and established good practice, not perpetuate the misunderstandings of those used to teaching later key stages.

Notes to editors: 

Early Education (The British Association for Early Childhood Education) is the leading independent national charity for early years practitioners and parents, campaigning for the right of all children to education of the highest quality. Founded in 1923, it has members in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and provides a national voice on matters that relate to effective early childhood education and care of young children from birth to eight. The organisation supports the professional development of practitioners through publications, training, conferences, seminars and access to a national and regional branch network. For more information on the work of Early Education visit