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Your Own Way

  I was delighted that Gill Jones and Wendy Ratcliff were able to discuss and share the new Ofsted framework via the Early Years Leaders podcast, where we had a conversation on intent, implement and impact.

On my travels, either when I am training or delivering consultancy, educators are asking me what this means and what they need to do.

Wendy Ratcliff has stated:

“The EYFS (educational programmes) provides the curriculum framework that leaders build on to decide what they intend children to learn and develop.

Leaders and practitioners decide how they will implement the curriculum so that children make progress in the seven areas of learning – we will keep our definition of ‘teaching’.

Leaders and practitioners evaluate the impact of the curriculum by checking what children know and can do. “

Wendy Ratcliff, HMI in Early Years, Ofsted, 4 January 2019 – PACEY

In short, this means that as a setting, leaders need to decide what is right for them. My starting point as a reflection within discussions is identifying your own values, mission and vision as a setting. Every setting is unique and it is very hard for one to duplicate another’s pedagogical approach. I often hear educators saying they do something because of XYZ setting or have implemented LMN approach. My response is, why would you want to copy, why not build your own foundation based on your own ethos?

As a setting, reflect on the pioneers, evidenced-based research and theories and examine whether they reflect your setting’s ethos. One size doesn’t fit all, hence why a setting can’t be 100% Reggio outside Reggio Emilia and the EYFS can’t be lifted lock stock and barrel into another country. I’ve experienced this in my international work, where I share the principles of the EYFS and settings weave those principles into their own local culture and setting’s ethos.

The point that I’m making is that we have to be careful not to jump on to the bandwagon with approaches and ideas that may not work for our setting. At an inspiring and thought-provoking grass roots event, Firm Foundation, I shared this reflection: ‘Children don’t need a mud kitchen, they need mud.’ Similarly, I wrote a blog post recently suggesting that we need to be careful not to ditch all of the plastic within a setting.

More importantly, the whole setting needs to be involved in identifying your ethos in practice, to make sure that everyone ‘sings and dances your ethos together.’ Educators should be able to explain their ethos in practice and if they have been involved in devising or editing it, then it should naturally role off the tongue.

When you are considering Intent, implement and impact, be true to your setting and, more importantly, what your children need. Be inspired and educated by others, however, remain true to yourself. It is your way of doing what you do, not someone else’s way.

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  • Sam Evans

    “I think that it’s a mistake to take any school approach and assume, like a flower, that you can take it from one soil and put it into another one. That never works. This doesn’t mean at all that [we] can’t learn a tremendous amount from it, but we have to reinvent it. … We have to figure out what are the aspects which are most important to us and what kind of soil we need here to make those aspects thrive.”
    Howard Gardner, 1997

    Too many people making this mistake!

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