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Foundation Stage Profiles

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An extract from Ted Wragg’s article on Foundation Stage Profiles.

It is not often that I feel like celebrating something by doing cartwheels along the central reservation of a motorway, while singing the rudest song I can think of, but the publication of the Ofsted report giving a monumental pasting to the 117-item foundation stage profile was one such moment.

In a Guardian article in October 2002, I wrote a strong protest about the introduction of the wretched thing. It had no effect whatsoever. Reception class teachers must now assess children on 13 scales, each with nine different statements: 117 judgments. These labels are being assigned to four- and five-year-old beginners: for a class of 30 a grand total of 3,510 assessments each term.

Many of the tickboxes are ludicrous. Some are brainlessly vague, such as "maintains attention and concentrates" (on what, for goodness sake - setting fire to the wendy house?). The item "reads books of own choice with some fluency and accuracy" fails to distinguish between Little Twinky and War and Peace, while "uses everyday words to describe position" presumably earns a tick for both "'ere" and "45 degrees east north-east of Samarkand".

How on earth is one supposed to make a proper judgment on whether a four- or five-year-old child "has a developing respect for his or her own culture and beliefs and those of other people"? Reception-class teachers are supposed to go through all these ridiculous labels with parents. I wonder if anyone has yet dared tell a parent they weren't able to tick the "understands what is right, what is wrong and why" box. Are you suggesting my child is a psychopath? Well pick your choppers out of that, sunshine. Thwack.

The prize for gormless complexity goes to the following box, under "creative development". I swear I have not made it up. "Expresses feelings and preferences in response to artwork, drama and music and makes some comparisons and links betweendifferent pieces. Responds to own work and that of others when exploring and communicating ideas, feelings and preferences throughout art, music, dance, role-play and imaginative play." Er . . . yes, give him a tick. Hold on . . . maybe no. Too undiscriminating on tambourine technique and lack of empathy when pretending to be a potted plant.

In any sane society these dreadful 117 tickboxes would have been tipped on to the nearest dungheap where they belong. The very thought of administering them to every four- and five-year-old in the land would have been too stupid to contemplate. I finished my 2002 Guardian piece by saying we should not label children so young, nor bury teachers under a totally unnecessary bureaucratic avalanche. But we did, and now an Ofsted report has blasted the miserable instrument for all the reasons that were predicted.


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