A NEYTCO colleague highlighted this Early Years Foundation Stage advice for parents that was published on Thursday. I have to say that whilst I knew about providers applying for EYFS Exemptions from delivering the learning and development requirements of the EYFS, I hadn’t seen or heard before of parents being able to do this. My initial thought was that surely this could not be right, as potentially this might create a conflict within settings in delivering the Fundamental British Values i.e. if there were areas of the curriculum that we had to exempt from some children, this might affect our ability to demonstrate an aspect of the FBV’s, which are woven throughout the EYFS and considered during our Ofsted inspections.
Anyway, after a bit of delving I located the original publication for providers Early Years Exemption Guidance, it was released in October 2012. This was actually before I started to monitor all the printed guidance (yes there was such a time if you can believe). So, I have now read this and to be honest am quite unsure of its intended purpose. It informs us that a parent can make an application to a provider based on their ‘religious or philosophical convictions’ for their child to be exempted from certain learning and development aspects of the EYFS. I have no idea as to the significance of this information being released to parents this week.
Now bearing in mind this exemption document came out prior to the Fundamental British Values requirements that came with the 2014 Statutory Guidance for the LA’s I have to ask if this was ever put to the test would a request from parents actually conflict with us being able to effectively implement the FBV’s within the EYFS (login and download here)? I guess the answer would depend on which of the learning and development requirements they were asking to be exempted from.
Fortunately, it’s not as simple as a parent coming along and saying we don’t want our child to do this. They have to make a formal application in writing, it has to outline the religious or philosophical conviction and early learning goal or goals to which they wish to be exempted. Approval is not just down to you, it has to be with the permission of your Local Authority, consultation with all parents must take place and any approval will be for a maximum of 12 months. If granted it has to be repeated in 12 months.
As providers though we do not have to accept their application and we can inform them that we are unwilling to meet their request and they can choose to accept this or leave the setting. I certainly think if we ever had a request we need to examine the motives of the parents and be aware of the possibility of the existence of radicalisation.
However, should you receive a request and approve it, then you should also be aware that Ofsted will look to ensure you have sought and been granted all the correct permissions, including examining the paper trail with parents and the local authority. They will also expect you to be able to meet all the requirements of the EYFS irrespective of any EYFS exemptions that are in place.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has ever had such a request from parents. Let us know below if you have had any experience of this.
About the author: Tricia Wellings
Her passion for and knowledge of owning and running a nursery group and the issues within the sector that affect them is second to none. She continues to keep herself updated through regular meetings with PVI groups, Local Authorities, Ofsted Big Conversation and Conferences.
You can find our more about Tricia on her website www.triciawellings.co.uk