To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills
(1) what support is provided to early years providers and primary schools to ensure an effective transition for children from the Foundation Stage to the National Curriculum for (a) speech, language and communication and (b) reading and literacy; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what assessment his Department has made of the recommendations made by Ofsted in its report "The Foundation Stage" on (a) guidance on (i) raising standards in communication, language and literacy, (ii) supporting the achievement of boys and (iii) providing effective challenge for more able children and (b) training by local authorities on improving the links between communication, language and literacy and other areas of learning; and if he will make a statement;
(3) what support his Department provides to assist staff working in early years settings to raise standards in the provision of support to children for communication, language and literacy needs; and if he will make a statement.
The Government welcome the recent Ofsted report and accept many of the recommendations. Evidence in this report was collected before the launch last September of the new programme of high quality phonics work to address the findings of Jim Rose's review of early reading. We are confident that this programme will deliver higher standards of communication, language and literacy skills.
The "Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage" already makes it clear that practitioners should plan a curriculum that helps all children to make good progress towards the early learning goals and, where appropriate, beyond. The Department has reinforced this by producing guidance on the identification of gifted and talented children and by asking the Primary National Strategy to produce guidance on better support for boys' learning. The "Early Years Foundation Stage" (EYFS) which takes effect in September 2008 and replaces the Foundation Stage guidance will set out equally clear expectations for all children.
The Department has produced a training package, "Communicating Matters", to help local authorities to support staff working in early years settings to raise standards in communication and language. In addition, the Primary National Strategy will shortly publish a new document to replace "Progression in Phonics" and "Playing with Sounds" which will support effective phonics teaching from the EYFS through to the end of key stage 1. Training and briefing for practitioners emphasises the links and interdependencies between all the areas of learning and development.
The EYFS and the "Primary Framework for literacy and mathematics" which support planning progression and personalisation of learning have been developed in parallel, with relevant sections of each mirroring the other to ensure that there is continuity between the EYFS and key stage 1. In conjunction with the Primary National Strategy, the Department has also produced guidance on the importance of providing continuity of experience for young children and their families.