By Harriet Thomas, Boogie Mites Creative Director
Achievement For All is a leading not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with Early Years settings, schools and colleges to improve outcomes for children, regardless of background, challenge or need. So I was delighted to represent Boogie Mites for the launch of Achievement For All’s ‘Every Child Included In Education’ Manifesto at The House of Lords.
Now I must admit to a degree of scepticism at these sort of events, fine words but will anything really change? But by the end of the evening, I had a feeling that something profoundly positive for the children of our nation may come about as a result of this Manifesto, and the practical work and campaigning it heralds.
Well, the Manifesto prioritises two aspects of education that we at Boogie Mites believe to be a vital component of any attempt to narrow the attainment gap. These are:
- Investment in the Early Years
- Valuing parents and carers as crucial learning partners
These 2 platforms of improved attainment were then emphasised by speakers Dr Tim Coulson, CEO of Samuel Ward Academy Trust and Independent Chair of Norwich Opportunity Area Partnership Board and Carol Shanahan, Co-Chair of Stoke on Trent Opportunity Area. Both explained current initiatives that were taking place in their respective localities to increase opportunity of achievement – Staring with investment in the Early Years. In other words, change in the Early Years sector is actually beginning to be prioritised as a vital step in increasing educational outcomes.
My feelings of guarded optimism grew as I spoke to Maureen Hunt, the Early Years Lead for Achievement for All. Maureen is in regular contact with the Department for Education and is working to improve Early Years excellence through practical measures, such as the creation of an Early Years online resources ‘Hub’: a one-stop-shop where EY practitioners can locate CPD resources that are quality assured.
So conversations are happening and actions are being taken to improve Early Years provision. That’s great! But something else was happening in that room that took me by surprise. There was a murmur about a magical element of education, one that successive governments have pushed out of the curriculum, but which countless people agreed could be the key to increasing engagement and educational attainment for all: the arts!
After many years of feeling like no one in any position of power was listening when discussing the important role of early years music for PSED, CL literacy and maths, here I was surrounded by people who are actually taking the notion seriously… that music in early years education must play a vital role if we are to enable all children to achieve.
And when I finally got to talk to CEO of Achievement for All, Sonia Blandford, I discovered that she was ….a music teacher, one fully committed to championing the cause of music and the arts in education.
This comes in the week that Andrea Zafirakou won the 2018 Global Teacher Prize for her outstanding work to improve outcomes for children at a very deprived school in Alperton, London. And what does she teach? Art and textiles.
If increasing funding for Early Years and developing opportunities for children to learn though the Arts is important to you, you can join the Every Child Included In Education coalition. Visit afaeducation.org
For Boogie Mites enquiries, contact Sue Newman, Boogie Mites Director on 023 92 817274 or email her firstname.lastname@example.org