In recent articles I have reflected on Montessori’s concept of human tendencies, and their evidence in children’s development, particularly in relation to their sensitive periods. These are, for many Montessori teachers, developmental landmarks that guide our understanding of children and influence our work with them. In this context it is also important to reflect on how these biological, genetic tendencies influence our practice in relation to the Early Years Foundation Stage (DfE, 2012).
Following last week’s publication of the updated version of the Early Years Foundation Stage document by the Department for Education, Dr. Martin Bradley, National Chairman of the Montessori Schools Association (MSA), prepared an overview of the changes. This comment and details of changes should be considered in line with the new EYFS publication and in conjunction with The Guide to the EYFS in Montessori Settings.
The Montessori Schools Association (MSA) monitors the outcomes of Ofsted inspections of our members on a regular basis. It has become clear that since about June last year inspectors’ judgements have sharpened and in some cases settings which were formerly viewed as being ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ have been downgraded to either ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’. Although the numbers involved are low – barely into double figures across our school membership of over 680, and thus far none of the settings have been MEAB accredited – there are some common factors which all members should be aware of.
This year we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Montessori St Nicholas Charity (MSN), which prompted us to make reflections on history, in one sense or another, the theme for this issue. We decided not to approach this solely as a history of the Charity itself or of the last sixty years, but also to reflect on childhood in general and to look at some of the Charity’s current projects, to highlight what we are doing now as well as what has already been achieved.
The closure of Discovery New School brings to an end a situation where we at Montessori advised the DfE to let us at Montessori oversee the development of its Montessori work and curriculum to ensure that taxpayers money was protected and that the school could achieve high standards. This advice was not followed and the proposers of the scheme did not take up our offers of help. The replacement senior management and governors who took over during the autumn term have been much more willing to seek and receive support from Montessori. We have worked with them since the autumn to try to ensure that the remaining children and staff develop their understanding of Montessori practices and make the best of a very difficult situation.
We wish the children and staff the very best for the future
Around this time of year in the UK, parents of children of particular ages start to focus on the next step in their children’s education. Each area seems to do things slightly differently, which can cause issues in itself, but in these days of (apparent) wider choice, and devolving authority, this appears to be inevitable. However, in many areas countrywide, parents are discovering which state schools their children have been allocated, or choosing their options if they are going down the independent route.