Over 60 people attended this event at the University of Brighton – parents, practitioners, educators and others. They heard from a panel of experts on early years education (listed below) and gave their own views on how the education of the youngest children is changing, and how they would like it to change.
For a full report and videos of the four speakers, see our Early Years page.
At the end of the meeting, many audience members contributed ideas in writing. These will feed into the Manifesto for Education in Brighton and Hove which we are developing in the run-up to next year’s local and national elections. You can contribute any further ideas via email or using the form on our Early Years page.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children” Nelson Mandela
In recent years we have developed a far better understanding of the importance of children’s early experience on their development and future wellbeing. We should be concerned, then, that nationally only 52% of five year old children starting school have reached a “good level of development” and, in Brighton & Hove we might be particularly concerned that this figure drops to 45%. This is worse than the national average and much worse than England’s best local authorities where 69% of five year olds have reached a “good level of development”. Continue reading
Education is under attack. What’s going on? The youngest children face testing even before they start school, and a rigid curriculum based on inflexible targets. We want to see early years education which recognises that children are not all the same; they develop at different rates and have individual needs. School students and their parents face attempts to turn schools into academies without consultation, leading to a less planned, more divided school system with some schools significantly better resourced. We want to see a school system that is inclusive, and designed to meet the needs of all, planned and managed through local collaboration rather than competition. Teachers face more top-down prescription of how to teach, worsening of pay and conditions of employment, unreliable judgements of performance and a devaluing of their professional expertise. We want to see trained and qualified staff, with professional autonomy over curricula and assessment and working in the interests of learners. Students in further and higher education face increasing fees at the same time as severe cuts, financial chaos and privatisation of colleges. We want to see a college system that is answerable locally and has an obligation to meet the needs of all young people. What we do We are working to build alliances between children, students and their parents and all those working in education and their unions. We aim to provide a forum for debate and a focus for all who wish to campaign for education as a public good, publicly funded and free at the point of delivery, rather than a business opportunity.
The unanimous decision against academy conversion by Hove Park School’s Governing Body on 22nd September – six months after controversially proposing to become an academy – was a spectacular U turn and a victory for staff and parents.(1)
In May the Head had written: ‘We believe that in order to create the world class provision that the students deserve, we need to consider moving forward as an academy …’ Four months later, after the decisive Governors meeting, he said: ‘I’m delighted that we were able to make a unanimous decision that at this point academy conversion is not the right way forward’ adding that conversion would be off the table for the ‘foreseeable future’. Continue reading