Play versus computers

The Telegraph this week reported claims made by Besa that under-fives are being exposed to modern technology at the expense of traditional play-based activities.

Under the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), children are supposed to hit a series of targets covering literacy, numeracy, problem-solving and social interaction by the age of five – a policy that has, according to the Telegraph, been criticised for being too restrictive and forces children into inappropriate early learning before they are ready.

In the latest study, the British Educational Suppliers Association found “significant variance” between the way private nurseries and state schools delivered early years education.

Ray Barker, the association’s director, said: “As many have found, the EYFS framework is quite rigid with a focus on traditional teaching and learning such as phonics.

“Our research has indicated that private nurseries and nursery units within state schools are taking a very different approach, with schools focusing on traditional teaching methods, while private nurseries are more committed to play.”

The research – based on a study of 510 teachers – found that private nurseries were almost twice as likely to devote the majority of week to play-based activities.

Some 65% of those in the private sector spent more than half of the week on play, compared with just 35% of state schools.

Nursery units in state schools were also much more likely to use modern technology.

Almost all schools had at least one computer for use by under-fives, while nine-in-10 employed touch-sensitive whiteboards which can be adapted for video, animation, graphics and sound.