When did you learn to read, utter your first word, count to ten, do up your shoes or touch your nose? Well apparently the government needs to know which is why it is enforcing a “national curriculum for children from birth to five.”
There are echoes of Huxley’s Brave New World with parents under increased pressure to send their babies to childminders, who will then monitor:
children’s progress towards a set of 69 government-set “early learning goals”, recording them against more than 500 development milestones as they go.
Apparently, their “early years profile” score at the age of five will be recorded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). What will happen to the wee ones who are behind on their giggling grades isn’t clear – maybe we’ll have a tickle tsar.
In public relations, we increasingly recognise that people are individuals, not as some simplified mass. This is something I believe applies particular to learning. But the government believes all children are identical and should be forced through a structured sausage machine of education.
Maybe we should survey all politicians to find out when they first recited “Humpty Dumpty”, took their first steps, dressed themselves, or discovered how to do a quiet fart! Does it really make a difference to later progress?
Of course we need to help children with learning difficulties, but the majority of babies develop at their own pace and aquire all the basic skills in the end. It is 25 years since I studied child psychology as part of my degree – but even then Piaget‘s four stages of cognitive development were seen as approximate and not rigid.
Do we really need the DfES to “reassure parents that their child’s development is being supported, no matter what form of childcare or pre-school education they use”?
I appreciate many parents aren’t familiar with babies before having their own, but wouldn’t simple guidance enabling them to feel confident about gradual development be better than increasing paranoia about their babies’ ranking in kiddi-school?
Clearly the government believes babies should come with an owners’ manual – so they’re developing a “92-page set of practice guidance featuring 513 skills and attitudes children should acquire” will ensure nursery staff adopt a “rigorous approach”. Don’t they know that Haynes has already beaten them to it?