Starting from the Child: Teaching and Learning from 3 To 8

By Julie Fisher | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO THE SECOND
EDITION

I wrote the first edition of Starting from the Child? in 1996. It was a time of great uncertainty for many practitioners in early childhood education and I was feeling this uncertainty as much as others. I had recently left headship and had seen, in my last few months in that job, the introduction of the National Curriculum and national testing. There was an instant and obvious pressure on the learning entitlement and experience of the young children in my school and it seemed that early childhood educators faced increasing pressure from above as the full weight of attainment targets, levels and national testing bore down on the youngest children. I moved on to a role in initial teacher education at the University of Reading and these downward pressures continued to be apparent. Opportunities for students training to be teachers in nursery and infant schools to study how children develop and how they learn were squeezed in favour of more subject and curriculum knowledge, which was deemed to be a more desirable pedagogy.

Then external agendas focused specifically on early childhood. The government introduced vouchers to fund universal preschool provision (erroneously called 'nursery' provision) for 4-year-olds, and established goals (Desirable Learning Outcomes) for children to work towards by the time they entered school. Demonstrating value-added performance became increasingly important and it was not long before baseline assessment on entry to primary schooling was introduced as a benchmark against which children's early progress could be judged.

-xi-

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