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Dear <<First Name>>

As you'll find in this month's blog, we reckon the answer to our title-question  is 'Yes'! Yet, as a survey by SPTC has found (see below), most Scottish parents have no idea about the strength of the evidence for a play-based kindergarten stage. So please join the Upstart Unfearties (also explained below) and help Scotland recover its proud heritage of enlightened early years provision!  

Blog: Did Scotland have the world's first kindergarten?
SPTC survey about Upstart
Join the Unfearties!
Upstart news
Looking for a Freelancer
News, views and useful resources
Forthcoming events

Blog: Did Scotland have the world's first kindergarten?

According to history, the first play-based kindergarten was Frederich Froebel's ‘Institute of Play and Activity for Young Children’, opened in 1817. Froebel went on to devise a world-famous system of early years education and care. But was his kindergarten the first in the world? Over a year before it opened its doors, another Institute, which also pioneered a play-based approach to early learning, was launched in Scotland. Read more 

SPTC survey about Upstart Scotland 

Thanks very much indeed to the Scottish Parent Teacher Council for conducting a survey of parents' reactions to Upstart. Considering it's less than a year since the campaign launch, the results are very encouraging. Although 85% hadn't heard of us (lots of work to do there), 47% said Upstart's ideas appealed to them and another 46% would be happy to consider a kindergarten stage, given more information. There's obviously much still to be done, but we're off to a very good start and insights from SPTC's survey will be very helpful.

Join the Unfearties! 

In celebration of its 21st birthday, the Children's Parliament (whose co-founder, Cathy McCulloch, is a stalwart Upstart supporter) invites everyone to join the Unfearties – individuals who are not feart, who are making a difference to children's lives, and who are willing to speak up for, and stand alongside, children. Sue and many other Upstart supporters have already signed up (as, incidentally, has John Swinney...). You can find out more and join the growing band of Unfearties here.

Upstart News

10/2/17 Upstart had a mention in this review of the 2016 PISA results, pointing to the clear relationship between a country's school starting age and its educational achievement.  UK politicians' reluctance to notice this fact is quite remarkable.    

13/2/17 Publication of a guest blog post on behalf of Upstart for the Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland (PINS)  

22/2/17 National committee meeting - wide ranging discussion around what we have achieved and what we need to do. More about this soon.

Welcome to Andie Habeshaw and Amanda Clare as the new conveners of the Fife Upstart network. 

Forthcoming events: Events are being organised by Edinburgh and Lothians network for April and Aberdeen network for early May. 

Looking for a Freelancer

We need help to finalise our SCIO application. Due to the increasing pressure on our volunteers, we need this process to be completed quickly, therefore Upstart is looking to employ someone for a limited number of hours to support this process.

If you have previous experience, please write to us at

News, views and useful resources

Using adventure and nature to bring back children's play
A very useful blog from the States with good advice re loose parts play and several very good images for downloading.  

Almost two-thirds of children worry all the time
Depressing BBC report from 6/2/17 about a survey of 10-12 year-olds

What should a four-year-old know?
Blog by a US mum on the difference between competitive parenting and 'raising children' – worth sharing.

Little people, big data
A Huffington Post piece by Pam Jarvis on the proposed PISA testing of five-year-olds (see Philip Hood's blog post last month).  

Play, Self-Regulation and Early Childhood – What Does Research Say?
Pretence and Creativity during Childhood and Beyond
Two video lectures from the Centre for Play in Education, Development and Learning at the University of Cambridge.

More Than A Score
First newsletter from a new group in England campaigning against 'datafication' and testing. Sue will be talking about Upstart at their Gateshead conference in March (see below).  

The Internet On Our Own Terms
Report by teenagers on young people's digital rights which includes the recommendation that young children need more help from the education system with social and communication skills and more outdoor activities.  

Future Me
The latest project from Read Write Count, for P1-3 pupils. There's also a booklet

Graduate nursery staff have little effect on children
BBC report on research in England that we reckon should be headlined 'Government has no idea what ELC is all about'. As long as attempts to reduce the attainment gap are focused, from the very beginning, on literacy and numeracy scores, the EY sector is destined to be enmeshed in political confusion.

Forthcoming events

11-3-17  Standing Up for Education conference in Gateshead, includes an Upstart workshop on 'Childhood without pressure: a kindergarten stage to seven?'.

17-3-17 and 21-4-17 Free workshops at New Lanark for parents and children on 'How To Nurture A Joy of Learning'. 

22-3-17  Book Bug conference in Edinburgh: 'The Power of Picture Books: building communities, families and futures'.
8-4-17 'Why We Play'. Presentation at the Edinburgh Science Festival by Upstart supporter Pat Kane and Upstart Chair Sue Palmer.   

24/25-4-17 Smart Play Network courses in Fife (Little Explorers April 24th; All Weather Play April 25th) £65 members, £75 non-members.
20-5-17 Play Works Conference in Broxburn, East Lothian. 

Quote of the month

This month's quote comes from Edwin Morgan's poem, 'Open the Doors', written for the opening of the Scottish Parliament, 2004.
'What do the people want of the place?
They want it to be filled with people as  
open and adventurous as its architecture.
A nest of fearties is what they do not want.' 
Onwards and upwards, 

The Upstart team

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