Early Learning Goals Consultation – Maths

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 the area which has caused us the most concern thus far; Mathematics.

Although there is a proposed Mathematical educational programme being developed, we truly feel that by removing Shape, Space and Measure from the EYFS will have a negative impact upon the learning and development of our children – if teachers and practitioners are told that this particular area is no longer included there is an incredibly high risk that they will stop teaching elements of this area of development as a result.

For many, the EYFS statutory framework is the Early Years bible and for such an important part of learning and development to be removed completely, will ultimately send a message that this is no longer considered an important part of a child’s education which is frankly not true.

Similarly, removing such a huge aspect but adding in goals such as “subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5” is, in our opinion, only going to confuse an already over-worked and high-pressured sector. Also, in relation to subitising for young children, should we not be considering how easy this is to measure? With such emphasis on measuring, tracking and essentially ‘ticking off’ this ELG’s – how are teachers able to confidently assess whether or not a child has this ability? Is the child counting in their head? Is it subitising if they are just not verbalising the counting? How will we ever accurately know that?

As with any new education document, (referring back to the terminology used in the EIF) wording and terminology is key especially when it will be distributed and implemented across such a broad sector; and so removing a simple, and well understood area such as ‘Shape, Space and Measure’ and replacing with ‘Numerical Patterns’ is in our opinion, going to scaremonger, confuse our practitioners, but not only this, teachers will feel pressure to develop ‘new’ ways to demonstrate how they are teaching and assessing these new terms which adds even more pressure onto our incredibly young children.

In addition to this, we are aware that in the pilot scheme of this consultation that the initial goal did not expect children to be able to count to 20 at this stage of their development, yet within the consultation children are expected to do ‘count confidently beyond 20’ – again, this terminology and expectation are not conducive with a realistic ELG expectation of children so young, not only this, but why has this changed so dramatically from the pilot scheme? Is it fair to implement this reform with such stark differences between the pilot scheme and the new goals? Is it beneficial to the children?

In summary, the entire reform and revision of these ELG’s needs to be re-looked at and reviewed in our opinion as these are frankly not conducive with the learning and development needs, understanding and abilities of children at this age and stage of development and the removal of Shape, Space and Measure will be at the detriment of these children’s learning and development. Not only this, but the terminology, changes and overall shift around of these statements, learning areas and  ELG’s is set to confuse, scare and place even more pressure on our sector at a time where we have already seen such dramatic changes and turmoil from the EIF.

We need to challenge this proposal and respond to the consultation and ask these vital questions:

  • Is this necessary?
  • Who is it benefitting?
  • Will the children learn and develop as a result of these changes?
  • Will there be adequate support and training available for teachers and practitioners before they are expected to assess these new ELG’s?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘No’ then the entire proposal needs to be re-thought and developed with significant input from teachers and practitioners on the front line who could devise a more appropriate ELG system that will represent the true learning and development needs, expectations and abilities of our children.

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