BLTC Press Titles

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Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Parents, Early Years and Learning: Parents as Partners in the Early Years Foundation Stage - Principles into Practice

by Helen Wheeler


This book updates and complements the PEAL Reader, making it available to a wider audience beyond those attending the training. It revisits much of the original material and includes learning from the training delivery itself. Extracts from the original PEAL practice examples are highlighted and new parent-partnership projects are introduced, gathered from practitioners in children’s centres who attended PEAL training in its first year. Reflections on the design, delivery and impact of the training are also included in Section 8.

The principle of working with parents to involve them in their children’s learning is firmly established within national policy. The Children’s Plan (2007) emphasises parents’ support for their child’s learning as an essential foundation for achievement. Parents, during consultation, asked for more involvement in their children’s education. The good practice that already exists in many early years settings is recognised in the plan but the need to reach out and involve all parents is emphasised.

All settings offering early years provision are required to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) from September 2008. This sets out detailed principles, requirements and guidance on working with all parents as partners in learning. These are outlined in Section 2 of this book. Subsequent sections then look at the evidence base for the principles and requirements, and at how settings can work towards creating real partnership with parents – putting the principles into practice.

PEAL provides a framework for practice. It outlines key underpinning elements that need to be in place for successful partnership, and advocates sharing research and practice with parents. It is not, however, a prescribed method. It does not try to set

out exactly what should happen in a setting or school, or what educational theory or practice should be shared. It provides a foundation and encourages selfreflection – both as individual practitioners and as teams of professionals working with families.

PEAL suggests that settings should think through what they do well already, include parents in this process, and consider what could be enhanced and improved. It points to a wide range of practical ways of working, and encourages practitioners to make their own choices, know their own communities well and have confidence in developing partnership in ways that match their families’ needs.

The importance of working more effectively with parents to involve them in learning cannot be overstated. Just as the EYFS works to end the artificial distinction between childcare and education, partnership with parents acts to end the distinction between home and school as sites of learning. Children learn from everything they experience, wherever they are and whoever they are with. The greater the continuity between home and setting, and the richer the learning environment in both, the more children will benefit.

The impact of taking the time out to read, reflect and plan future practice is illustrated by some quotes from participants following PEAL training:

• “It’s given me hope about what my setting does with parents, but also how we can improve and develop.”

• “I came here today knowing that I am quite good at working with parents, but now I realise I only scratch the surface.”

• ”I feel we are meeting the needs of families well, but there is always room to move forward and there are some wonderful ideas here.”

• ”PEAL has made me think a lot – I’m excited about starting to use some of the ideas.”

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