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Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 7 February 2012

The following Open Letter was published in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday 7 February 2012
(the full submitted text is reproduced below)

Today we are launching a new broad-based movement called ‘Early Childhood Action’ (ECA), which aims to galvanise a wide coalition across the early years sector and beyond, to inform and influence the government’s revision of its statutory Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. Whilst acknowledging the government’s welcome attempts to simplify this curriculum, widespread disquiet exists about the direction in which the current revision is headed.

In the coming months ECA will draw up an Alternative Foundation Phase curriculum document which will build on the EYFS’s positive aspects, while addressing its key shortcomings. Specifically, the AFP will highlight:

  • the central place of young children’s physical development and of imaginative, spontaneous play across the curriculum
  • the ‘schoolification’ of early childhood with its over-assessment and excessive monitoring, with normalised ‘measurement’ impeding in particular the progress of boys, summer-born children, and those with English as an additional language and special educational needs
  • the controversial ‘Early Learning Goals’, with their premature emphasis on cognitive learning, and the associated adoption of developmentally inappropriate pedagogical practices
  • the undue pressures on parents to prepare children for formal schooling according to a system that is too inflexible to cater for the highly diverse developmental needs of young children
  • disquiet about commercial influences, and the statutory imposition of inappropriate ICT experiences on to young children
  • ways of pursuing equality without imposing a non-discriminating compulsory framework that impacts upon all children, irrespective of their needs.

Early Childhood Action has already gathered the support of around fifty major figures and organisations from academia, early years and the creative arts. Our AFP curriculum will be the distillation of progressive, leading-edge research and experience from across the early-years field, and it will help early years leaders, managers and parents to draw on their own judgement as to which of the two curriculum documents – the AFP or the EYFS – provides the more health and developmentally appropriate environment for our young children.

Yours truly,

The Early Childhood Action core organising group – Dr Richard House (University of Roehampton), Grethe Hooper Hansen (ex-president of SEAL), Dr Jayne Osgood (London Metropolitan University), Sue Palmer (literacy specialist, author of Toxic Childhood), Kim Simpson (Montessori teacher and counsellor/coach)

Open Letter Signatories

Organising Group
DR RICHARD HOUSE (University of Roehampton)
DR JAYNE OSGOOD (London Metropolitan University)
SUE PALMER (literacy specialist, author of Toxic Childhood)
KIM SIMPSON (Montessori teacher and counsellor/coach)

Early Years Specialists
ROBIN BALBERNIE (infant mental health specialist)
PIE CORBETT (Literacy specialist and author)
WENDY ELLYATT (Founder, Unique Child (UQC) Network)
SUE GERHARDT (psychotherapist, author of Love Matters)
SALLY GODDARD BLYTHE (Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, Chester)
PENELOPE LEACH PhD (Birkbeck College, London)
DR ANDREW LOCKETT (Early Years Consultant)
PROFESSOR EMERITUS JANET MOYLES (Early Years and Play Consultant)
LINDA POUND (Early Years Consultant and writer)
DR KATHY RING (Senior Lecturer in Early Years, York St John University)
DR MARIA ROBINSON (author on early child development)
DR ARIC SIGMAN (child health education lecturer)

Other Eminent Signatories
BARONESS SUSAN GREENFIELD (neuroscientist, Oxford University)
ED MAYO (co-author, Consumer Kids)
AGNES NAIRN (Professor of Marketing, EM-Lyon Business School)
PHILIP PARKIN (General Secretary, Voice)