Play being 'pushed aside' in nurseries

 
Dressing up Dressing up helps spark children's creativity and imagination

Related Stories

The role of play is being sidelined in England's nurseries because of government shifts towards more formal learning, experts say.

Nursery teachers and other child carers will no longer need training in how children learn through play under two key qualifications being drawn up.

Play is central to learning for under-fives and should feature heavily in the criteria, nursery groups say.

There is no contradiction between teaching and play, the government says.

The Department for Education has been consulting on two new flagship qualifications, the Early Years Educator (EYE) and the Early Years Teacher (EYT), designed to increase the skills of those working with babies and young children. They will be required by nurseries in England from September 2014.

Start Quote

I have this fear that we are moving to a position where we are not wanting our children to be children any more”

End Quote Neil Leitch Pre-School Learning Alliance

The A-Level-standard EYE qualification says the worker should "deliver children's early education and development from birth to the age of five" and "have an understanding of how children learn and develop".

It also requires them to "deliver effective teaching and learning" enabling children to progress and be ready for school.

While the EYT requires the teacher to have a clear understanding of synthetic phonics in the teaching of reading and appropriate strategies in the teaching of early mathematics, there is no mention of theories underpinning structured play.

The Department for Education said: "There is no contradiction between teaching children and play. Good nurseries do both - education and enjoyment go hand-in-hand."

But the three major bodies representing nurseries, pre-schools and childminders say not mentioning play is a major omission.

Pre-School Learning Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch said: "Learning through play is the cornerstone of good practice in early years because play is how young children learn and make sense of the world.

"The ability of practitioners to support children's play in this way is an essential skill in promoting children's development and should be recognised in these qualifications. We are very disappointed that it is not."

He said the role of the childcare practitioner was to create the right environment for young children to explore and learn in a way which extends their interests at their own pace.

"This is why we have concerns about the top-down pressure from government that could lead to the 'schoolification' of early years as a result of developmentally inappropriate practice such as having young children sit in rows and hold pencils."

'Explore and develop'

He added: "I have this fear that we are moving to a position where we are not wanting our children to be children any more."

There was a growing culture of "rushing children" to a point where they could produce a return for the economy, instead of following academic evidence that learning through structured play and self-development was the best way to prepare children for a successful education, he said.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, said "play should be there in every line" of the criteria.

"Children and babies are learning all the time and they are learning through play - even when they go on to schools. You just can't separate it," she said.

While a spokesman for Pacey, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said: "These qualifications contain no requirement to have an understanding of play theory or practice."

This was of particular concern as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the official guidelines on how children under five are cared for and educated, is meant to be based on play, it said.

"Early Years Teachers (EYT) must be required to know that children learn through well-structured play, when they have opportunities to explore and develop their own ideas.

"The expectation that teachers will be able to provide adequately for play, without being given any formal knowledge or understanding during their qualifying years, will only set them up to fail children in their early years, when learning through play is a crucial part of their lives."

And Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Play is a fundamental and appropriate part of the early years phase of education and it is therefore disappointing, not to say incomprehensible, that the government has excluded it from their draft framework.

"Structured play is valuable to children in so many ways. Principally, it allows them to develop confidence and enjoy learning new skills. The government should stop sending a message that play does not contribute to child development."

The National College for Teaching and Leadership, which has drawn up the criteria, said educators and teachers would be expected to meet the requirements of the EYFS.

"The EYFS has a requirement for planned, purposeful play and so is already included within the score of the standards and criteria."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 115.

    "If you want creative workers, give them time to play": John Cleese.
    Now replace 'workers' by 'children', since children become adults and what this country desperately needs are creative workers who are also numerate and literate.
    At a young age, there is very little difference between 'play' and 'learning'.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 114.

    76.EJH4593

    Just wait until you don't hit your 'targets' and you can't demonstrate sufficient measurable 'progress'. Half teaching trainees leave within 3-5 years and you are about to find out why...sincere good luck.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 113.

    A reminder of the last tweo paragraphs -

    "The National College for Teaching and Leadership, which has drawn up the criteria, said educators and teachers would be expected to meet the requirements of the EYFS.
    "The EYFS has a requirement for planned, purposeful play and so is already included within the score of the standards and criteria."

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 112.

    Typical of the Right. Tories stoop so low as to steal Childhood from our children, this is how we're perceived by them, not being worthy of even the most basic of human rights, childhood or a decent life, We are just scum to them, unless they need us for one of their wars. And I include Blair in that as well, a Tory with a red rose in his lapel.

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 111.

    Why was Mozart a child prodigy?

    No it wasn't because of natural talent, it was because he was taught from a very early age. By 5 years old, Mozart had 5,000 hours of piano practice by his piano coach father.

    Ditto Tiger Woods, who was holding golf clubs before he could walk.

    So ignore the sanctimonious moaners who mean well, but are totally clueless on how "talent" is formed not inherited.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 110.

    Playwork principle 2 -

    Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 109.

    Re: "Play being pushed aside"

    We need to be careful we are not creating robots...

    The right kind of play and interaction is vital for development, one of the big issues now is hard working parents not having enough time for their children (long hours + commute)

    Creative play also lays foundations for later skills and confidence.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 108.

    I was a nursery teacher for 11 years. I gave up in despair in the early days of OFSTED. An inspector with a background teaching high school maths observed my class of 3 year olds and pronounced "How do you expect these children to learn anything when you let them play all the time" and (when I argued, citing my training) "Children only learn when you sit them down at a table and TEACH them"

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 107.

    Until you have worked in different countries and experience first hand differing educational standards it's difficult to appreciate how poor our HR is in terms of basic skill set and vocational training. We need to up our game to survive let alone prosper whatever our politics or economic system. I'd never start a new business here. Other countries offer superior HR resource & infrastructure.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 106.

    Play is how babies & the youngest children learn, but that isn't good enough for our Government (or the last one) because they are too stupid to realise that plenty of play in infancy is on of the key things that sets children up to do well when they reach school...

    ...oh for a Govt. that listens to the EVIDENCE instead of thinking they know best because of who they are (Ex-Eton etc).......

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 105.

    I don't even believe this is true, certainly not in the nursery where my partner teaches or the one that my son attended anyway. They don't do much formal teaching at all and just incorporate learning into games. They mostly let them choose whichever area they want to play in then join in and encourage their social development.

    When will they stop bashing schools, what's the agenda here?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 104.

    Playwork Principle 1

    All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity, and is fundamental to the healthy development and well being of individuals and communities.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 103.

    Many years ago, it was mostly about playing and getting along with others which is a form of learning. Children must always have the playing experience otherwise we will be rearing a generation of people who only know work. Think of the future mental cases there will be if people cannot balance out work with recreation.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 102.

    This government seems hell bent on making the lives of the citizens of this country as miserable and as uninspiring as possible. They clearly have no concept of the idea of education and learning. Fortunately, nursery is still voluntary and formal education doesnt start until 5. If parents dont want their children to be robotic automatons I suggest staying out of state nursery education.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 101.

    Quote: The A-Level-standard EYE qualification says the worker should "deliver children's early education and development from birth to the age of five" and "have an understanding of how children learn and develop".

    Which, per se, will include the concept of 'play' - especially. the last phrase. Plus, the word 'worker' needs to changed to 'worker and parent'.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 100.

    Regarding 93: What a load of ill-informed rubbish. I have many European friends who are all amazed how early our son has started school. We start formal school much earlier than much of Europe and perhaps fail as a result.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 99.

    Children should be seen and not heard!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 98.

    Back in 1952 I started school aged four. I could already read and so from an early age associated school with utter boredom and frustration.

    At an early age children differ so much that I wonder what is the point of marshalling them into classes except for the purposes of minding they don't stray.

    Formal classes will suit some but not others. More practical skills will be more valuable.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 97.

    NOW will parents finally see how their children, schools and teachers have just been used and abused by successive governments? Shame on them all. Unless the crazy obsession with measuring everything - then hammering anyone who doesn't reach their 'target' - ends, we will ALL continue to suffer. Let children grow up, understand that happens in different ways, and stop trying to BLAME someone!

  • rate this
    -35

    Comment number 96.

    All I know is with our barely literate youthful population, something has been going very wrong. Ok, we also have a barely literate adult population, so it has been going wrong for a long time. This change in approach certainly won't make things any worse.

 

Page 9 of 14

 

More Education & Family stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.