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Last month saw publication of new curriculum advice from the inspectorate and benchmarks for literacy and numeracy. In response, Upstart sent this letter to John Swinney. We are deeply concerned that the Early Level benchmarks, along with  standardised tests at P1, will lead to increased 'schoolification' of early years practice in Scotland.  

Our campaign for a 'kindergarten ethos' for the under-sevens is part of a growing movement across the English-speaking world for an emphasis on nurture, nature and play in the early years. In this month's blog, Health Play specialist Julia Whitaker explains why this is vital to children's long-term health and well-being. We need to get this information out to all parents and professionals involved in the care and education of young children so please circulate the blog as widely as possible via social media. 

CONTENTS
Upstart news
News, views and resources
Blog: A new prescription for Health and Wellbeing
Forthcoming Upstart events
Other events of interest

Upstart News

 
15/9/16 Kate Johnstone and Sue Palmer met the Minister for Childcare and Early Years and the Minister for Public Health and Sport. Sue's report here.

19/9/16 A blog post criticising Upstart by literacy specialist Anne Glennie unleashed a storm of comment on Twitter from supporters early phonics teaching.  Sue's response was published as a blog post on 26/9/16.

20/9/16 Early Years Scotland staged a highly successful Question Time on  'What age should children start school?. Dr Elizabeth Henderson put the Upstart case brilliantly and a film of the event is to be made available soon – we'll circulate it via social networks. 

21/9/16 Morag Pendry attended the first of three Common Weal/University of Edinburgh policy labs about Early Years policy on behalf of Upstart.

27/9/16 Sue's presentation about Upstart at a Holyrood Conference on Creating a Fairer Scotland was well-received by delegates except for primary headteachers, who considered it critical of current educational practice. 

28/9/16 Sue met with LibDem Education spokesman, Tavish Scott. While personally supportive of Upstart's aims he thinks we're 'trying to turn around a supertanker' and should concentrate at present on building support and initiatives on a local basis around Scotland.     

1/10/16 Kate and Sue ran a stall an Upstart stall at the SCMA Conference in Dunfermline. It was an excellent day, with much support for Upstart, and Childcare Minister Mark McDonald said 'quality' is his first criterion in EY provision and promised to meet with Suzanne Zeedyk to discuss attachment-led practice.  

News, views and resources

Play Scotland free resources
A poster about types of play as defined by play guru Bob Hughes and accompanying notes. (Also illustrated in a tweetable article here.)

The Play Summit
An interesting new free initiative with talks by the estimable Peter Gray and many others: www.theplaysummit.com 

Study Visit to Finland, March 2017
Information here about this Children in Scotland project.

Tuning into sound
The rhyming activities in this excellent post develop a range of auditory skills. Meanwhile, researchers say that England's exhaustive test-based phonics regime isn't serving the under-sixes well.   

Government consultation
The statutory guidance on Standards in Schools is open for consultation until November via this link.  
 
Physical development
Reports from the Independent and The Conversation show that, as lifestyles get steadily more and more sedentary, we must ensure that 3-7 year olds are up and active for large parts of the day.



Outdoor play and nature
More evidence on the importance of play in nature and learning outdoors and a useful report from England on Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools.

Mental Health Statistics
Scottish government news bulletin (6/9/16) stating that the number of children and young people being seen by mental health services has risen by nearly a third in the last two years.  According to Together, the children's rights charity, the number of psychologists employed by CAMHS has more than doubled since 2007 but problems with waiting times still persist. Meanwhile BBC reports significant increases in mental health problems among young adults, including 25% of young women now self-harming.  

Good Childhood Report
Children's Society's annual report, this year showing growing gap in 'happiness' between girls and boys (1 in 7 girls reports being unhappy with life overall, as opposed to 1 in 9 boys)  

NHS Scotland Report
New report on health and early years, children and young people.

International news
Steve Biddulph is currently battling schoolification in Australia. Meanwhile, one British family are touring Europe with their three- and five-year-old children, rather than sending them to school, and discovering a huge cultural difference the way adults view childhood and play in countries where schooling traditionally starts later.  

Blog: A new prescription for Health and Wellbeing by Julia Whitaker

 
As the leaves fall and 2016 draws to a close, we read that an ever-increasing number of our children are being identified as having some sort of mental health problem. Our 3 and 4 year olds are labelled with ‘conduct disorder’ and the vocabulary of childhood now commonly includes references to ‘stress’, ‘anxiety’, and ‘depression’...  

Our children deserve better – not better labels, better drugs or more therapeutic interventions – but a better prescription: a Prescription for Play. Read more

 

Forthcoming Upstart events

3/10/16 Upstart presentation to Scottish Green Party, St Thomas of Aquin's High School, Chalmers St, Edinburgh 7.30-9.30

12 – 15/10/16 During the SNP Party Conference at the SECC, Upstart will have a stall in the Common Weal IdeaSpace, to be staged next door in the Glasgow Science Centre, Pacific Quay, Glasgow. Please come and visit us!  And we've been allocated a fringe event at 9am on Saturday 15th, so will be very happy indeed to welcome anyone who's up and about at that time. 

3/11/16 Upstart will take part in an Early Years event at the Children in Scotland conference, near Cumbernauld. Details yet to be decided, so keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter.

17/11/16 ScotEdChat will host a twitter discussion about school starting age. Please make a note in your diary and join us.

Others events of interest

Have you responded to the National Parent Forum consultation on the school starting age?  If not, please let them know what you think. Closing date: 31st October

7/10/16 Children in Scotland training 'Easing transitions through play' in Edinburgh

8/10/16 ParentSpark talk on 'Upstart the book' at Calton Studios, Edinburgh 

12/11/16 Free 'Growing Up Wild' Conference at Hamilton Racecourse, 9.30 – 4pm. Tickets from Eventbrite.  

24/11/16 Play Scotland seminar 'Delivering the Attainment Challenge Through Play' with Professor David Whitebread, Edinburgh

Quote of the month

Sue was reminded of this quote on a visit to the amazing Drumdruan School in Forres: 

'Our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility – these three forces are the very nerve of education.'

Rudolf Steiner
Please keep spreading the word about Upstart Scotland!

Onwards and upwards,

The Upstart team

Copyright © 2016 Upstart Scotland, All rights reserved.


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