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We wish all our members and friends a very happy New Year 2018 






It is time for renewal of your membership with TACTYC – or join us.  We value your support, and hope that you will be part of TACTYC’s work for the year ahead on behalf of practitioners, children and parent.  Our annual subscription is very reasonable: Full member £45, Student/unwaged £30. Payment by direct debit is much preferred since it minimises the administrative burden on our unpaid Exec.  We are aware that a number of members have existing Standing Orders to an old TACTYC bank account.  Please do check that your payment arrangements are up-to-date. And do email/contact us if you have a change in your details (address, email, phone, etc.) so we can be sure to keep you updated regularly.


TACTYC Exec and members are outraged at the recent OfSTED Report ‘Bold Beginnings’. We feel that it will cause long-term, detrimental effects on young children’s confidence, motivation and disposition to learn, as well as on their parents’ attitudes and early years teachers’ professional integrity.  Read our response here. And do let us have your views on the issues raised in the Report.

Di Chilvers from Watch Me Grow has written a challenging piece responding to ‘Bold Beginnings’ which she has allowed us to use in our Reflections pages.

PROFESSOR COLIN RICHARDS (a previous President of TACTYC and ex-HMI) has also made his views known on Twitter (@colinsparkbridg). Essentially, he says:

“It’s official. The Dfe’s grasp of causality and evidence in the context of educational processes is definitively shown to be at the same level as that of a typical toddler… and that’s a generous estimate.

  1. Northern Ireland didn’t take part in 2001 – that’s why rankings don’t matter.
  2. Too much stress on the excellent by DfE and Ofsted can drive out the good.
  3. How is that Northern Ireland scores higher than England in PIRLS but has no phonics check nor has it prioritised synthetic phonics? ‘
  4. England up from 11th to 10th on a problematic international reading test – despite our recent ‘reading wars’. Not much to crow about – nor synthetic phonic zealots.
  5. Why is Ofsted emphasising synthetic phonics when it said something quite different three years ago? What has changed? Nothing! This kind of thing undermines any credibility they may hope to have when pronouncing on the education of young children
  6. Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings paper ignores and contradicts other recent Ofsted papers which highlight the benefits of a play-based pedagogy and a broad EYFS curriculum.
  7. Ofsted need to clearly signal their independence of government ministers. The latest Reception report strongly suggests that this independence is at risk, if not ready compromised.
  8. Ofsted is misusing the term ‘research’ to mean anything it finds from its visits to schools e.g. about Year R. The research community needs to challenge this.
  9. Ofsted have badly miscalculated with its Reception report – it needed to work with the formidable early years lobby not confront them with a set of recommendations that could have been written by supposed EY ’expert’ Nick Gibb. Ofsted’s EY credibility has been dealt a major blow.”

BASELINE ASSESSMENT – the campaign continues

Our Vice- Chair, Nancy Stewart, spoke out against the return of Baseline at a recent conference.  She urged all school leaders who do not agree with the introduction of the new reception assessment should refuse to take part in a pilot due to take place in 2019-20. Find the write-up here.


PACEY is conducting a survey about Early Years Teachers. It forms part of a study being undertaken in conjunction with Voice the Union to better understand how many graduate-level teachers are leaving the workforce and why, and consider how this trend can be reversed. The key issues include:  barriers to recruitment and retention of Early Years Teachers; availability of graduate-level early years teaching courses and different routes; career aspirations and prospects of graduate early years students; career pathways of qualified Early Years Teachers; ways to improve graduate early years qualifications.

PACEY would be extremely grateful  to any EYITT course leaders and current and former EYITT students. The link to the survey is: It needs completing before the 15th January.

TACTYC BOOK SERIES: Research informed professional development for the early years

You can now access all information about our exciting series here. We now have three books published, the latest being Valeria Huggins’ and David Evans’ Early Childhood Education and Care for Sustainability: International Perspectives. Further information and opportunity to order your copy here.


“TACTYC’s conferences have a different feel, as they attract participation from across the sector. All are welcomed, and a sense of belonging created”.

“TACTYC’s conferences are very accessible, enable broad participation across the sector, and are a great opportunity to listen and learn.”

Another successful conference – brilliant reviews and excellent speakers.  Something different from past conferences but equally worthwhile. You’ll be able to read all about it here soon when we have completed the evaluations.

2017 AGM Papers can be found here.


Over recent months the Executive Committee has been undertaking a governance review, working with consultants to consider the organisation’s aims, membership, activities, responsibilities and structures.  Members agreed at the 2017 AGM to approve going for charitable status.  We will be starting this process soon.

Three spaces on the Exec were filled – see Chair’s Report – and we will be inviting co-optees soon.

As part of our thinking, we undertook a membership consultation project which makes interesting and informative reading. This is ongoing so do respond when you can.


New research commissioned by the National Education Union (NEU) considers the impact ability grouping practice has on both children and educational professionals within the early years environment. The key findings from the research, which draws upon the input of more than 1400 individuals taking part through interviews, focus groups and a survey include:
  • 45% of respondents said that ability grouping damages the self-esteem of children
  • many teachers use strategies, such as moving pupils between groups, to relieve the damage caused to children’s confidence
  • grouping is often encouraged by senior leadership teams, being viewed as an expected practice to prepare pupil’s for future tests such as the phonics screening check and KSI SATS.
  • ability grouping practice continues despite research evidence showing that mixed ability teaching produces higher attainment overall.


Di Chilvers from Watch Me Grow has written a challenging piece responding to ‘Bold Beginnings’ which she has allowed us to use in our Reflections pages.

In the latest Reflections paper, Colette Saunders outlines a case for unionising the early years workforce. Colette writes from an Irish perspective but her argument for a collective voice with power to resist the many challenges facing the sector is one with universal relevance.


Read here all about Viki Veale – a very enthusiastic member of TACTYC, who responded to our appeal at the Conference for more Member Profiles.  Do remember to send yours to Janet

OCCASIONAL PAPER 10 now online

Julian Grenier has written an excellent new paper which you’ll find here entitled: ‘Collaborative quality improvement’ – a way forward for England’s maintained nursery schools? in which explores one possible future for nursery schools: as the leaders of quality improvement for the whole of the early years sector in England.

STUDENT REFLECTIONS AWARD – read the winning entry here

Congratulations to Emma Bailey (winner) and to Jaime-Lee Knight and Amy Perkins (runners up) for their thought-provoking papers entered for the TACTYC Student Reflections Award.  Emma Bailey’s entry for the Student Reflections Award considers why, when we know how important play is for young children’s development, there are limited opportunities in practice for genuinely child-led play. Emma considers some of the barriers and provides a Play Policy template for other settings to adapt for their own use.


ECF steering group members Anne Nelson and Kathryn Solly will be presenting a discussion-based training day on ‘Quality in Diversity – A Child’s Journey’ in Oxford on 2nd  November,  2017. The Venue is the King’s Centre, Oxford and all delegates will receive a copy of the joint ECF/NCB 100 page publication which is a framework of children’s learning for early years practitioners.£100 but with limited availability. To book, visit:


A new review here of the first book in a series specifically devoted to under 3s. Edited by E. Jayne White and Carmen Dalli, this explores pedagogy and policy across many different contexts.


BERA-TACTYC Early Childhood Research Review 2003-2017:  In 2013, TACTYC: (then chaired by Jane Payler) and the BERA Early Childhood Special Interest Group (then convened by Elizabeth Wood) came together to co-lead a research-focused collaboration to produce policy advice (2014) and to revisit and update the 2003 BERA research review. This 2017 review considers research findings from UK research since 2003 pertaining to five themes and their policy contexts;

  • Professionalism: early years as a career
  • Parents and families
  • Play and pedagogy
  • Learning, development and the curriculum
  • Assessment and school readiness

The age range of the 2017 Review is birth-to-seven-years. The review team has drawn on systematic approaches to produce a rigorous academic review that reflects current positions in each of the themes. Click on the title to access the review and a summary document .

Dr. Jane Murray and Dr. Rory McDowall Clark have written an excellent brief Summary of this research for Children and Young People Now.


Our TACTYC colleague, Prof. Pamela Oberheumer, is involved in a new venture regarding the ECEC workforce profiles in Europe.  You can find information and a website here. English language texts will be available shortly.


We have welcomed Helen Bilton, Associate Professor at University of Reading, to our Executive Committee this year and you can read about her on our Member Profiles pages.  These seem to be popular within the website statistics so why not tell us about YOU?


We have a new call for papersEarly Childhood Policies in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (Special Issue).  Global attention to the early years has reached unprecedented heights.  As countries scale up early childhood services, what are evidence-based policy strategies to meet the needs of the workforce? To what extent do early childhood policies address or reinforce inequities within and between countries? How are debates around measurement influencing policy efforts to make and monitor progress toward national and international goals? We are interested in papers that go beyond descriptions to include critical analyses of the challenges of formulating and/or implementing policies for young children and their families in low-resource contexts of the global south.


Prof. Peter Moss has written about the OECD’s IELS study in which he suggests that, although progress seems to be floundering because very few (possibly only 2) countries appear to have signed up, the OECD seems not to be acknowledging this weakness in the programme’s intended reach/sample. He also criticises the apparent lack of attention to children’s consent to participate, OECD’s lack of engagement with constructive criticisms that have been circulated about the design and consequently the inability of the methodology to attend to diversity issues or to be culturally sensitive. Read more.

Closing Gaps Early: The role of early years policy in promoting social mobility in England is a new report from The Sutton Trust which explores how ‘early years childcare and education touches on many aspects of social policy, from education to the labour market to the benefits system. It is a tricky area to get right, and as our new research shows, England has a lot to be proud of in this area, having made good progress over the last 20 years on parental leave policies and early education provision. However, there remains a substantial gap in the school readiness of less well-off children and their more advantaged classmates by the time they start school – one that has finally started to narrow but which remains at over 17 percentage points. This gap continues to widen throughout the school years, so it is essential that we close it early so children can begin their formal education on a level playing field.’