More play makes better learners?

Curriculum deprives children of play opportunities

By Lauren Higgs Children & Young People Now 8 April 2009

Children need more time to learn through play, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has warned.

In a survey on early education, members of the union claimed that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the primary school curriculum are to blame for a lack of play-based learning.

More than half of respondents said that young children are deprived of the chance to spend time on music and singing, arts and crafts and drama.

National testing was found to spoil children's enjoyment of learning, damage children's confidence and have a negative affect on children's willingness to learn.

The vast majority of respondents said that assessing children against 117 EYFS indicators is unnecessary.

Claire Harris, a primary school teacher from Bedfordshire said the EYFS confuses parents.

She said: "Parents don't understand it and most aren't interested anyway. They want their young children to enjoy school and make friends. That should be key to foundation stage learning."

Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said that primary school exists to equip pupils with "the building blocks to continue learning".

She said: "We can either go on overloading the curriculum and testing children at every opportunity, or we can create an environment where children can enjoy learning and discovering."