Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Early Years 'Snapshot' Policy Falls at First Hurdle: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Early Years 'Snapshot' Policy Falls at First Hurdle: News

Article excerpt

Welsh government climbs down on controversial assessment.

As education initiatives go, it must rank as one of the most short- lived in the brief history of the Welsh government.

Launched in September to near universal criticism from teachers, the controversial child development assessment profile (CDAP) was meant to give a snapshot of each child's abilities as they start their schooling. But less than five months later, much to the relief of teachers, the policy has been scrapped after a hastily arranged review found "significant problems".

The policy required early-years teachers to monitor up to 114 types of behaviour deemed appropriate for three- to five-year-olds in the first six weeks of a child entering the play-led foundation phase. When it was first announced, teachers warned that it would be too complicated and unwieldy, and ridiculed several of the areas to be monitored, such as whether a child could stand on one leg for two seconds or draw a mark in the snow with a stick.

In December the government was forced into an embarrassing climbdown, announcing a full review and relaxing the reporting requirement to parents. And last week it announced that the policy would no longer be statutory.

A "rapid review" conducted by Iram Siraj-Blatchford, a professor of education specialising in early years at the University of London's Institute of Education, found "significant problems".

The government has promised to publish the full findings shortly, but education minister Leighton Andrews (pictured right) said: "It is clear that the CDAP in its current form does not adequately meet the needs of all practitioners and children.

"Work is already in hand to ensure that we move quickly to replace the CDAP with a tool that better supports children's early learning and development."

Classroom unions breathed a huge sigh of relief, especially heads' union NAHT Cymru, which was braced for clashes with members of the NASUWT, who had been told by union leaders to abandon the policy after the review was announced.

The focus will now turn to what will replace the CDAP. Mr Andrews said he remained committed to a "single, consistent assessment tool for use with children as they progress through the foundation phase", but he has not given any hint of what that may be.

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Aled Roberts said that practitioners must be involved in developing any new scheme. …

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