View this email in your browser
Dear <<First Name>>

At the turn of this century, PISA's first international league tables for education led to an outbreak of competitive frenzy among politicians. In England, it spawned the damaging tests-and-targets culture that Scotland now seems bent on replicating. So it's extremely worrying that the OECD, parent of the PISA tests, plans to pilot a new round of international assessment – for four- and five-year-olds.  

Fortunately, Scotland has not agreed to participate. Unfortunately, England has. And if international league tables for 'early learning outcomes' appear, they're bound to affect attitudes to EY care and education everywhere. So please check out Professor Philip Hood's guest blog on the subject, and keep an eye on Facebook/Twitter for more information on how to protest against international 'baseline testing'.      

Blog: The Looming Trial of PISA
January round-up
Upstart news
News and views
Forthcoming events

Blog: The Looming Trial of PISA

Guest blog by Philip Hood, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nottingham. 

After the ‘success’ in popular media terms of the PISA test programme to supply international league tables of attainment at age fifteen years in core subjects, the OECD has turned its attention to early learning and development. The proposal is for a new set of tests (IELS) aimed at children between four and a half and five and a half years old, that is before the end of the (F2) Reception Year in England and of P1 in Scotland. Read more

January round-up 

18-1-17 Scotland announced £1.5 million to expand the EY workforce. Whether that will be enough to solve the problems described in a TESS article a few days earlier remains to be seen. 
23-1-17 A motion was lodged in the Scottish Parliament in support of Scotland's Play Charter (to which Upstart Scotland is a signatory). It will be debated on 14/3/17. Play Scotland urges everyone to pledge their support.    

 23-1-17 More evidence appeared showing that many children diagnosed with ADHD are simply too young to be in a classroom ('developmental immaturity is mislabelled as a mental disorder and unnecessarily treated with stimulant medication'). You can access the  journal article here.
26-1-17 A report from Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health showed that children's health in Scotland is, shockingly, 'among worst in Europe'. However, media coverage yet again showed that child health (i.e. physical health) is viewed as quite separate from childcare (i.e. getting parents into work) and early education (i.e. attainment in literacy and numeracy). The item on ADHD (immediately above) is an example of problems that ensue when we fail to join up the dots.  

27-1-17 Common Weal published a blueprint for Early Years, in advance of its final policy lab on the subject on 3-2-17.

28-1-17 Strathclyde University announced details of a full time PhD scholarship (fees and stipend) exploring young children’s thinking at point of school entry in Scotland. It would be perfect for an Upstart supporter! 

Also in January, an educational supplies company called Eduquip took a look at the recent PISA results and noticed that the western countries scoring highest all have a later school starting age. Here's their research paper, and here's a chart showing the top three in Literacy, Maths and Science.

Upstart News

9-1-17 Article about Upstart by Glasgow convener Hilary Long in Families Magazine (page 13)

18/1/17 Sue Palmer put the Upstart case at a Holyrood Conference on Relationship-Based Practice in Scotland's Social Services, Edinburgh.

20-1-17 Shetland Upstart network held its inaugural meeting, led by convener Ali Lavery.

31-1-17 Edinburgh and Lothians local network resumed its monthly meet-ups at Hemma coffee shop.

News and views

Pressure mounting for five-year-olds
This blog from an English mother will resonate with any parents struggling with deferral procedures. If you haven't yet signed the Keep Early Years Unique petition on the need for change inn EY provision, this link will take you to it, and to another mother's account of her son's too-early introduction to formal education. 

Play in kindergarten predicts 'civic engagement'
US study backing up earlier findings from High/Scope that play-based learning for disadvantaged children (age 6 and under) is associated with greater social adjustment later in life. 

Stop the damage to UK kids – it's time for a revolution
Blog from Save Childhood's Wendy Ellyatt, linked to a new book contrasting child-rearing in the Netherlands, which has the highest levels of childhood well-being, with that in the UK and USA 

Is this the future for the childcare industry?
Guardian piece on an initiative to provide affordable childcare in a culture of privatisation.

Boys are defective girls?
'Girl behaviour is the gold standard in the classroom,' says a psychologist in this article. 'Boys are treated like defective girls.' By 'girl behaviour', he means the ability to sit quietly and get on with deskwork but, for optimum physical and mental health, all children – boys and girls – need to spend more time in active outdoor play, especially during their early years. We all know this (even Fox News has got the message) but we also know that, in modern society, it's practically impossible for parents to let young children out to play. So why don't our education authorities stop trapping young children in classrooms and provide a Scandinavian-type kindergarten stage for three- to seven-year-olds?

How the new preschool is crushing kids
It's worth another look at this excellent piece by Erika Christakis, published in The Atlantic this time last year.  It sums up what's now happening in US preschool and kindergarten (up to age 6) – and it sounds terrifyingly like what's happening here.  

Forthcoming events

If you have an event you'd like to  publicise to supporters of Upstart Scotland, please send details to 

February: Free parent/child sessions in sensory art from Touchbase in Glasgow.

13 to16-2-17 Edinburgh Play Ranger Week: free events ideas for outdoor winter play.

8-3-17 ENABLE conference in London includes Scottish speakers Heather Armstrong, Rachel Drury and Sue Palmer, who will put the Upstart case.

22-3-17  Book Bug conference in Edinburgh:  'The Power of Picture Books: building communities, families and futures'.  

20/5/17 Advance notice of Play Works Conference in Broxburn, East Lothian.

Quote of the month

This month's quote was brought to mind by this recently-released TED talk by philosopher George Monbiot and musician Ewan McLennan.  It links the escalation of mental health disorders to the decline in children's outdoor play.  
'I go into nature to be soothed and healed
and to have my senses put in order.' 
John Burroughs

Onwards and upwards, 

The Upstart team

Copyright © 2017 Upstart Scotland, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp