Early Learning Goals Consultation – Expressive Arts and Design

Upon reading the ELG consultation, as professionals we are incredibly concerned by the reform, over the series of our next few blogs we will be dissecting the proposed changes for each area of learning; this week we will be looking at Expressive Arts and Design and the proposed changes to this area of learning.

Our initial thoughts on the proposed changes to the area, is ultimately the language used within the statements and how these may be misinterpreted and implemented as a result.

For example; the words ‘perform’  when referring to the following statement –

“Perform songs, rhymes, poems and stories with others, and – when appropriate

– try to move in time with music.”

Whilst many children of this age and stage of development will do this as a natural part of their play, the word ‘perform’ in our opinion imposes a certain level of pressure for a child to be over-expressive in the way in which they sing songs, read poems and share stories as part of a group engaged upon the same theme.

Similarly, if these ELG’s are introduced with no real support or guidance attached, the interpretation of a statement such as this, has the potential to be incredibly detrimental for the children, with many practitioners under the impression that they will need to orchestrate a big performance opportunities in order for children to adequately ‘perform’ as per the statement, and this worries us about the impact on the children.

What about those children who are little more shy? Who may sing a song quietly to themselves as they play, or whisper stories to their teddies in the reading corner – many practitioners will observe occurrences such as this and not deem it as ‘performing’ and either not record that the child is achieving this, or even more worryingly, try to coerce the child into ‘performing’ on a larger scale which has many ethical implications and a hugely detrimental impact on the child if these statements are misinterpreted, which if the introduction of the EIF is anything to go by with new phrases and statements in place without proper explanation or guidance, misinterpretation will be commonplace.

In addition to this, the only other discrepancy we found within the proposal for this area was the word ‘invent’; when children are imaginative they are always ‘inventing’, characters, ideas, situations, and narratives and these develop and change as the children share ideas and the narrative develops and changes – surely there is a more simplistic way of phrasing these statements?

The EYFS is for everyone, of varying levels of experience within the sector and as a result the documents should be written as such, to make it easy accessible and interpretable for everyone, regardless of experience or understanding, and throughout this proposal, words and terms are being added, changed and simple statements being amended to sound more complex, when in our opinion, it’s totally un-necessary and by doing this, only adds more pressured and confusion to practitioners throughout the EY sector, ultimately to the detriment of our children.

Upon reflection, we personally feel that the rest of the proposed statements within this area are relevant, appropriate and understandable for all.

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