The Learning Curve

February 26, 2008

BBC Radio 4’s The Learning Curve did an excellent, albeit short feature, on the Open EYE campaign yesterday evening. Graham Kennish of the Open EYE steering group explained very clearly the flawed nature of the EYFS, likening it to a bright red, rosy apple with a worm in it. He also highlighted the harmful and compulsory nature of the curriculum and the seriously flawed consultation process that led to it. For those who missed it, do take the opportunity to listen again here – fast forward to the last 4 minutes of the programme.

Action Required – A CHANCE TO RESPOND
In 4 minutes it is obviously impossible to say everything and I am sure that there are lots of further points you would like to hear made. Well, here is your chance! The Learning Curve is always keen to hear from interested callers who wish to respond or add to something they heard on the last week’s programme.

Therefore, please e-mail the Learning Curve –  there’s a link on the programme’s web-site, here – in the next few days, as quite apart from anything else this will help convince Libby Purves to cover this issue again in May. This is a seriously good forum for Open EYE to be involved in, and I believe we must make as much noise as humanly possible to keep the pressure up!


Latest News

February 22, 2008

The Open EYE conference last weekend was a great success; see our Conference page for a full report. Other news is as follows:

An early day motion is being tabled by Annette Brooke, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Children, Families & Schools, so please don’t forget to write to your MP urging him/her to support the EDM. More details will appear here when we have them.

Channel 5 News Item/Film
Channel 5 have contacted us via Melinda Messenger and asked to do a short film/news item for inclusion in all their news programs. They will be filming in two settings, next Friday, 29th February, including the kindergarten where Melinda sends her own children. The news item should appear on the Channel 5 news at 12 noon, 5 and 7 pm the following Monday, 3rd March. If anyone has any ideas as to specific points they wish to see covered in the News item please get in contact. We would love to hear from you.

Libby Purves and the Learning Curve on Radio 4 next Monday night
Time to tune in your radio as Libby Purves and the Learning Curve also wish to cover the Open EYE campaign in their forthcoming broadcast next Monday night – 25th February at 8.30 pm. This will be just a brief mention ahead of doing a full programme on the EYFS in May.

Latest news

February 15, 2008

Melinda Messenger – Celebrity Mum of the Year in 2003 has Joined us 

Anyone who happened to see BBC 1’s “One Show” last week will have already noticed that Melinda Messenger has joined the campaign. Melinda has 3 children, aged 7, 5 and 4. Morgan, her eldest, did one year in the State system but when Melinda realised that he was being asked to hold a pencil and learn to read, aged only 4, she decided that this was quite literally “too much, too soon” and withdrew him. All 3 are now being educated in the Steiner system. Next week Melinda will be doing an interview with Natasha Kaplinsky on Channel 5 news to support the campaign. She is also hoping to get along to the conference at some point tomorrow.

International Conference Tomorrow – Almost Fully Booked

There are only one or two more spaces left for tomorrow’s conference so if you do wish to come, do ring or e-mail Alison Moore on 07802 659 882 / as soon as you can.

Open EYE Petition passes the big 5,000!

We’ve been hoping to be able to announce at the conference tomorrow that we have 5,000 signatures. Well, now we can! If you haven’t yet signed up, please do so and let’s keep the number (and the ranking – currently 35th out of over 8,000) climbing. It’s at and only takes a few seconds. Thank you very much.

More media

We are expecting quite a bit of coverage in the weekend papers so do look out for the Times, the Telegraph and the Mail. Also there was a brilliant letter in today’s Independent EDUCATION supplement! – we couldn’t have summed the case against the EYFS better ourselves.See below.


The Independent, EDUCATION, Thursday, 14 February 2008, p. 2


Referring to your Leader (“An oppressive system that is failing our children”, The Independent, 8 February), constant testing and objective setting does not just begin when a child starts school. The Government in their wisdom has decreed that all children attending “child care settings” outside the home, including day nurseries, play schools, before- and after-school clubs and childminders, should follow the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. The age frame is from birth to five years old.My daughter, who is a childminder, finds herself having to plan, deliver, and assess early-learning goals laid down in the statutory framework, which requires that by the age of five children should: write simple, regular words and make phonetically plausible attempts at more complex words; read a range of familiar and common words and simple sentences; begin to form simple sentences; and use mathematical ideas and methods to solve practical problems.

Apart from the fact that not all children are competent learners from birth, surely expecting every child to be reading, writing and doing simple arithmetic by five is setting many perfectly normal children, and their carers, up for failure.

My daughter finds that the young children she cares for are often chronically tired, as they start their day at 7am, then go into a school-type setting that does not allow for an afternoon nap, and are not picked up by their working parents until around 6pm. When she picks them up in the afternoon they have had their fill of planned educational offerings, and want to sleep or relax in front of the television (as many adults would wish to do after a hard day’s work). They are rarely interested in arts and crafts work, music or cooking, which my daughter tries to interest them in so that her portfolio will look good for the Ofsted inspectors. Whatever happened to unstructured play time, and allowing children to discover the world in their own way and time? This constant imposition of targets is not only unnecessary, but could be counter-productive.

p>Dr Robert Heys, Ripponden, West Yorks

‘Open EYE’ meets Barry Sheerman, MP

February 4, 2008

From the ‘Open EYE’ Steering Group members Margaret Edgington, Anna Firth, Richard House and Lynne Oldfield:

On Thursday 24 January, we met with the Chair of the Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families, Barry Sheerman MP, from which meeting it is clear that Open EYE’s concerns are being taken very seriously at the highest level. It seems likely that at least some of the issues raised in the Select Committee’s previous investigation of the early years, held some 6 years ago, are soon to be revisited by the Committee, and furthermore, Mr Sheerman has agreed to continue a dialogue with the group and to ensure that the concerns of Open Eye are fed back to the Committee and to DSCF Ministers. Should the Committee return to this issue, Mr Sheerman has also agreed to hold a second meeting with Open Eye.