In anticipation of the forthcoming early years conference we are please to be publishing an article entitled the Power of Play. Written by Orah Azose this thought provoking piece bases it comments on a collection of essays edited by Sharma Olfman and discusses the importance of play as an educational tool in early years education.
Orah Azose is a recognised early years educator who has been teaching for 12 years in the Chicago Public School System and is currently a tenured preschool teacher at Budlong Elementary School in Chicago, IL.
You may never have heard of PCAL. This is because I believe that I have the honour to have invented a new acronym to add to the list of approaching 300, which educators need to have in their heads – or at least on a list somewhere. PCAL stands for ‘Preparing Children for Adult Life’ and is clearly a watchword that the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, has made her own, adding it to the revised Ofsted framework. As a DfE document, published just this month, says, she sees making ‘character and resilience’ a priority, alongside academic achievement, as vital for preparing our young people for success in adult life as well rounded, confident, happy and resilient individuals.
Many aspects of curricular and extra-curricular life at school contribute to this agenda: PSHE, participation in school sports, Citizenship education, extra-curricular clubs, like the scouts or the cadets, debating, learning an instrument, careers advice, participation in the National Citizen Service etc.
It seems that scarcely a week goes by without OFSTED hitting the headlines. Whether it is a bright shiny new academy being put into special measures, another Jewish school achieving ‘outstanding’ status or the government putting even more pressure on inspectors to look under the beds for signs of extremism, ‘being Ofsteded’ has become as ubiquitous a phrase as ‘hoovering up’ or ‘becoming the Rolls Royce’ of something. In short, Ofsted seems to be here to stay. But to adapt a phrase from a well beloved intergalactic travel show, New Ofsted (not to be confused with New Labour, New York or indeed New Barnet) “is Ofsted Jim, but not as we know it”.
A very long time ago, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, Charles Clarke was, for a couple of years, Secretary of State for Education in the Tony Blair government. In that role I met him several times and always found him to be thoughtful and caring. Since that time he has held a variety of posts and roles, including Home Secretary and is now Visiting Professor in Politics and Faith Religion (what’s non-faith religion?) at Lancaster University. Together with Professor Linda Woodhead, Professor of Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University they founded – and organise – the Westminster Faith Debates. Last week they published, to several fanfares, ‘A new settlement: religion and belief in schools’. It even made the Jewish Chronicle!