In the last few years, with the introduction of a statutory National Curriculum in maintained schools in England and Wales, there has inevitably been huge controversy about the curriculum. As regards its impact on the education of children in the four to eight years age range, some commentators have taken the extreme view that the National Curriculum is fundamentally at odds with early years education (e.g. Blenkin and Kelly 1994). Others have argued, however, that while there are dangers and difficulties, with imagination early years educators can be true to their principles, stay within the law, and provide the young children in their care with an appropriate, rich and stimulating curriculum (see, for example, the Early Years Curriculum Group 1989). This is the position taken within the present chapter. We want to discuss what the principles for such an early years curriculum might be, and then to demonstrate how these might be brought to life through one particular approach involving the use of enterprise projects.
This chapter is not intended as a critique of the National Curriculum. However, its introduction in England and Wales has raised a number of issues which need to be addressed when we come to think about organising a curriculum for young children. These issues can be identified in terms of