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Dear  <<First Name>>

Welcome to the November newsletter, with more research and commentary on aspects of early years, news about Upstart, details of upcoming events and reports of October happenings:

    Schoolification isn't working
    How missing out on play affects lifelong health, well-being and success
    Why Steve Jobs wouldn't let his kids have iPads
    Upstart News
    First meeting of Upstart's Edinburgh and Lothians Network, 16-11-15
    Events, resources, links
    Reports on recent events
    Quote of the month

Schoolification isn't working...

Last month saw yet another article from across the Atlantic comparing 'the joyful, illiterate kindergarteners of Finland' with their stressed, 'schoolified' counterparts in America. But this one was followed up a week later with by a report in the Washington Post about the first comparative study of early years provision in the USA and Scandinavia. The Gift of Time? School starting age and mental health, from the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows what everyone in early years education already knows: schoolification isn't working. Read more

How missing out on play affects lifelong health, well-being and success

More and more commentators are starting to join up the dots between what children learn at preschool and the skills they'll need to survive and thrive when they reach adolescence and adulthood.  The New York Times recently published this piece on the subject: How the modern workplace has become more like preschool, which links to two interesting studies on social skills and 'non-cognitive' abilities.

Peter Gray, whose article on resilience we posted in the last Newsletter, points out in a recent blog how increases in mental health problems among students are linked to lack of play in early life

How long will it take the government to recognise that pushing little children to read, write and do sums too early can have disastrous consequences ten, twenty or thirty years down the line?


Why Steve Jobs wouldn't let his kids have iPads

The founder of Apple wasn't unusual in restricting his children's access to screen-based technology. Many high-tech parents now choose to follow the American Academy of Paediatrics recommendation of NO screen-based entertainment for the under-twos and no more than an hour or two of recreational screen-time per day thereafter.  

Apart from studies linking excessive screen-time to obesity, sleep problems, depression, attention deficit and many other modern ills, high-tech parents know that the younger children become hooked on screens, the less time they'll devote to activities that promote healthy all-round development. Yet recent research from Sheffield University found that over half of under-fives are now quite accomplished iPad users (their favourite app being YouTube).  

Upstart News

As Upstart is growing rather rapidly, we’ve begun setting up local networks to coordinate local events and spread the word even further. There are two so far and we would be keen to hear from anyone outside the Central Belt who'd be interested in getting together a network in their locality.

Edinburgh and the Lothians
Convener:  Willie French, Head Teacher, Royal High Primary School
Willie French, Head Teacher at the Royal High Primary School in Edinburgh, trained as teacher at Moray House College and has worked in primary schools for thirty-two years. He has held a number of posts including class teacher, assistant head teacher and head teacher, and has amassed a variety of experiences during his career, including working in the independent sector, in areas of multi-deprivation, in rural environments, in urban areas, for the voluntary sector, in special education and in mainstream education. Willie has a particular interest in developing pupils' abilities and their health and well being through sport and the arts.

Convener:  Hilary Long, Manager at Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens
Hilary lives in Glasgow where she is Manager at Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens.  She writes:  ‘I am delighted to be involved in the campaign. I have forty years experience in various capacities in early learning and childcare. I also have three grown up children and remember their first day at school vividly. I suppose ever since then I have intuitively known things needed to change and research confirms this. Glasgow is a big place. I live in the East End so any willing helpers across the city please do get in"
One of the most important tasks for the networks over the coming months will be to organise local events for the campaign launch in May 2016. As there's no possibility of influencing party manifestos this time round, we're waiting until after the parliamentary election to introduce Upstart to the media. This gives us time to grow the movement and and also to work out ways of launching it with a good loud splash.

First meeting of Upstart's Edinburgh Network, 16-11-15

If you live in Edinburgh or the Lothians, please come along, meet other Upstart supporters and help launch our first local network. The event has been organised by Willie French, head of the Royal High Primary and Upstart's Network Convener for Edinburgh and the Lothians.    

Venue: The Watsonian Club, 79 Myreside Road, Edinburgh EH10 5DB.  (Car-parking space available)
Date: Monday, 16th November, 2015
Time: 7 – 8.30 pm (but there is a bar, so everyone's very welcome to stay on and socialise)
Agenda: Introduction – Willie French
               'Upstart: where we are now and aims for the future' – Sue Palmer
               Growing the movement and plans for the launch.

Come along and bring a friend – or lots of friends!

November events, resources, links


Play report

October saw publication of a report on Play by All-Party Parliamentary Group on A Fit And Healthy Childhood. An interesting commentary by play specialist Adrian Voce, one of the members of the group, reflects Sue's experience of serving briefly on this APPG.  You can find out more about Adrian's new book Policy for Play here

Equity and Aspiration in Education

The 2015 SELMAS Conference, to be held in The Caves of Edinburgh on 13th November, will address many issues relating to Upstart and Education Secretary Angela Constance is among the speakers.



Character Scotland: Call for Evidence

This organisation, which is exploring the holistic purposes of education in Scotland, has issued a Call for Evidence to early years practitioners, teachers, youth and community workers, parents and third sector organisations. To find out more and submit evidence please click here. Submission deadline is 30th November 2015. 

21st Century Childhood: The State of Play  

For RSA members and guests: discussion on early childhood development with Professor Colwyn Trevarthen and Sue Palmer – Saltire Society, 9 Fountain Close, 22 High Street, Edinburgh, 18.00, Wednesday 4th November

Reports on recent events

A report on the Common Weal Policy Lab meeting on childcare and education (21st September) appeared on Bella Caledonia in October.

The panel discussion at the Freedom to Learn event – 'What would a socially-just education system look like?' – held in Edinburgh on 8th October (with a panel including Upstart supporters Terry Wrigley, David Cameron and Sue Palmer) is available on YouTube  

Transitions as a Tool for Change : transforming lives

On 20th October, Sue attended the second of a series of seminars on Transition organised by Professor Aline-Wendy Dunlop. There were two presentations:

-         ‘Co-navigating and bridge-building: educators collaborating to support children’s learning journeys' by Professor Sally Peters from the University of Waikato, New Zealand

-         ‘Rules, rules, rules and we’re not allowed to skip: Listening to children’s voices about the transition to primary one’ by Lynn McNair, Head of Cowgate Under-Fives Centre, Edinburgh.

Both were excellent and sparked much discussion about the difficulties involved when children  make the transition from an early years setting to a school environment at only five years old – wonderfully summed up by the child’s quote in Lynn McNair’s title.

Another excellent presentation, by by Professor Dunlop herself (on the subject of early years transitions in general) is available here

On 22nd October, PEDAL, the Centre for Play in Early Development and Learning, was launched in Cambridge. The launch can be viewed on the PEDAL website which, since PEDAL's founder David Whitebread is an outspoken advocate for a later school starting age, is likely to become a useful source of evidence for Upstart's aims (see his report on The Importance of Play).


Quote of the month

The future isn't some place we're going to – it's one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made.  And the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.

John Schaar

We hope you don't mind our sending this Newsletter. If you do, please email asking to be taken off the mailing list.

But If you agree with Upstart's aims, please help us spread the word by forwarding this Newsletter on to any friends, colleagues and networks that might be interested.   

Onwards and upwards!   

The Upstart Team

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