Consultations & Responses

This is where we share with you the consultation responses, consultations and other lobbying activities undertaken on your behalf.


March 2022

Look out for TACTYC’s Forum article ‘The Reading Framework’ in response to the continued heavy focus on SSP. TACTYC have shared with government ministers. Read it and share it here Forum Article Reading Framework March 22

TACTYC responded to Nick Gibb’s Resist the ‘progressive’ attack on phonics article!preferred/0/package/858/pub/858/page/62/article/265282


Former Under Secretary of State Nick Gibb has evidently not given up on his determination that young children in England should be taught to read through the exclusive use of Systematic Synthetic Phonics.  His conviction is based on findings from research that started over 20 years ago in 22 schools in Scotland, which has been shown to have weaknesses, not least through the recently published scholarly work of Wyse and Bradbury, which the former Minister dismisses.  He also pours scorn on the thoughtful and comprehensive account of the story of education in England in the book “About our Schools” by Brighouse and Waters, which is to be published at the end of this month.

Given that he was the only living former education Minister who refused the invitation to share his thinking and experience with two leading educationalists, one must wonder why he is so closed to debate.  During a meeting Mr. Gibb held with with representatives of the subject associations at the time of the coalition government’s review of the National Curriculum, the then Schools Minister put his hands over his ears when I started to brief him on early literacy, and said, ”I am not listening.”  I wish that at that time I had been aware of the comment made by R.A. Butler at the time of the Education Act in 1944:

“It has been felt that, in certain areas, there is a danger that the Secretary, or director of education, may fancy himself in certain subjects, or in some branch of study, and may go into a school and, by an obiter dictum, try to direct the secular instruction of that school more, as he would say, according to the wishes of the authority. That sort of interference with the individual life of the school is undesirable.”

(R. A. Butler, reported in Hansard, House of Commons, 10 March 1944 Vol 397 Cols 2363-4).

Further, I wish that Mr Gibb even now would take account of the judgement of the Scottish HM Inspectorate of Education in 2006, which found that “whilst this programme has made a strong impact on pupils’ ability to sound out, spell and recognise words, further work was required to link these skills to other aspects of reading, such as comprehension”, together with many other credible criticisms of the research.  His claims that the Education Endowment Foundation support his view are not endorsed by their review of the evidence, and their resulting recommendation that it is important to “Develop pupils’ speaking and listening skills and wider understanding of language, and to use a balanced and engaging approach to developing reading, which integrates both decoding and comprehension skills.”

Long before his time in office, this country had developed an effective and influential approach to teaching reading, not least because our orthography presents unpredictable challenges.  Phonics has always had a place, but is not enough.  The Rumbold Report, commissioned and led in 1990 by one of Mr. Gibb’s Conservative predecessors made it clear in para 55 that “Young children follow recognised patterns of development; but within any group of under fives there will be considerable variation between individuals. These differences are intensified because very young children do not have in common the experiences provided by formal schooling. Any attempt by educators to bring a common structure to their experience should take account of these variations, and should be designed to fulfil children’s individual needs.”  His insistence on a single limited and limiting approach to early literacy fails many children; although his claims about improvements since the introduction of phonics “first fast and only” apply to the results of the phonics check in Y1, they are not borne out in the results of the Key Stage 1 tests in the following year.  Given the evidence that a later start to reading leads to comparable results in children at the age of 11, I would suggest that the former Minister should find another hobby horse, and that Ofsted should look again at the evidence and amend their insistence on this approach, which is now extending to the training of teachers, in spite of the statement in para 113 of their current inspection framework for initial teacher training that they do not “advocate that any particular approach should be used exclusively in teaching. Different approaches to teaching can be effective,” and the point made in the Core Content Framework of the importance of enabling freedom of choice to adapt teaching to support all learners.

Given his lack of engagement with and respect for empirical as well as academic research, and for the people who have direct experience of both, I can only suggest that Mr. Gibb might make opportunities to spend some time in the stimulating company of young children, observing the very different ways that they experience life and learning.  He might also wish to find out about the approach to literacy now adopted after careful research and staff training in Ireland, which is leading to notably better results than ours in England, according to recent PISA rankings.

Yours etc.

Wendy Scott OBE, President, TACTYC, the Association for Professional Development in Early Years

A response also to ‘the focus on phonics to teach reading’ written by Professor Colin Richards

One of the late 20 C acts of educational desecration was the large-scale replacement of the two-/three year infant school. The latter represented a  very well-respected tradition in English education informed by knowledge of child development and of sophisticated  approaches to  teaching reading,   and honed by decades of practice. Its unique ethos was damaged , in some cases irreparably,  first by amalgamations with junior schools and more recently by the  myopic approaches to teaching early reading critiqued by the very latest and most comprehensive survey of research evidence (“Focus on phonics to teach reading…. Guardian January 1).

Children taught to read before the imposition of systematic synthetic phonics as the sole method for early learners were offered a variety of experiences always involving some phonics but also word recognition, cueing and other approaches to extracting meaning from meaningful  texts.  In the light of the research evidence now available that  eclectic approach to early reading clearly needs to be re-instated (and updated by reference to recent research) and the ethos of child-informed education reinforced, or in some cases re-introduced,  for young learners aged three to seven or eight.


Professor Colin Richards, Former HM Inspector of Primary Education (Published January 2022)



August 2021

Here is our  Response to Market Review Aug. 21. Please read and circulate widely!


Current consultations taking place from February 2020 onwards – please do have you say and get involved! Please also share far and wide …..

March 2020

ITE OFSTED Inspection Framework – TACTYC response to the consultation

Here is TACTYC’s response to the ITE Inspection Framework consultation – please do feel free to comment, share and use, as appropriate. We do hope you will find this useful.

Music Education

Thee DfE have released a call for evidence, consultation on Music Education to inform the refresh of the National Plan for Music Education (NPME) –

The current NPME includes children aged 5-18. TACTYC will respond and lobby for EYE to be included and embedded. This consultation can provide an opportunity for many from the EYE sector to have a voice and call for EYE to be included – particularly in response to Q13, which asks whether you think there is any one or more group sharing one or more of the characteristics listed, is under-represented – here we can say that the EYE age group is excluded and it is therefore discriminative based upon age?

There are other parts of the consultation that you may feel happy to answer and comment on with regards to the general lack of music education in our schools today – it is incredibly patchy to say the least. We will keep you informed, but please do take part and have your say.

Initial Teacher Education Inspection Framework and Handbook

TACTYC is also responding to the Consultation Document published by Ofsted in January 2020. We have until 3 April 2020 to respond. The full consultation document is here:

This should also be read alongside the following documents:

ITT Core Content Framework

Early Career Framework

Building great teachers: Initial teacher education curriculum research: Phase 2

The response will be shared with you once complete. We are particulalry concerned about early reading, SSP and the impact this has on very young children –


Press release, 24 May 2019 New early years coalition (including TACTYC) launches survey ahead of proposed EYFS changes

A new coalition of early years organisations has launched a survey to better understand the sector’s opinion of and attitude towards the EYFS ahead of a government consultation later this year.

The coalition, which includes Early Education, NDNA, PACEY and the Early Years Alliance, was founded in response to concerns early years experts were insufficiently involved in drafting revised Early Learning Goals (ELGs).

Representations have already been made to DfE to ensure that any future changes to the ELGs and the EYFS Statutory Framework have the full benefit of the most up to date research evidence and reflect best practice from across the sector.

The short survey which takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete is designed for early years practitioners, leaders and managers. The survey provides respondents with an opportunity to share what they think about how the EYFS currently and asks them what they would like to see change.

Practitioners are invited to respond to our survey at

Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive of Early Education said:

“It’s entirely appropriate to revisit the EYFS and see whether it can be improved, based on evidence that has accumulated since the Tickell Review.  Tickell set a benchmark of good practice in consulting with the sector and reviewing the research to ensure that the EYFS was as well constructed as it could be at the time, and any future reviews should live up to that same standard. 

“We want to ensure that piecemeal changes such as the recently proposed changes to the ELGs don’t compromise the quality of the whole.  We’re pleased DfE are engaging with us, and we hope that some of the less well-informed changes to the ELGs will be unpicked before they go out to public consultation to ensure that all changes are improvements on what is currently in place.”

Michael Freeston, Director of Quality Improvement at the Early Years Alliance, said:

“This consultation could bring about the biggest changes to the EYFS since its introduction. The Early Learning Goals, currently being piloted were devised with little input from the sector. My concern is that policy is being devised from a perspective that does not put children first and seeks to extend formal learning down into the early years. This makes it all the more vital that, when it comes to this consultation we are not only listened to but are also around the table, shaping what any changes should look like.

“I would urge everyone working in the early years to complete this survey. The more of us who make our voice heard now the harder it will be to ignore us when the government sets out the terms of its consultation later this year.”

Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association said:

“Since the launch of the Early Years Foundation Stage we have seen the quality of early education increase. The EYFS was built on a firm foundation of strong research based evidence, with a number of sector leaders involved in its development and embraced by the sector. 

“The proposed changes could have a negative impact on the quality of early years education, especially for our younger children.  We appreciate that a cycle of review is necessary to ensure that the EYFS is the best it can be, however this cannot be achieved without a thorough review of evidence based best practice and in collaboration with the early years workforce.”   

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of PACEY, said:

“Any review of the ELGs and EYFS must be underpinned by robust evidence of the factors influencing quality early years practice. There is a strong consensus within the sector that the proposals currently being piloted in 24 primary schools are likely to encourage a top-down, tick-box, one size fits all approach that will not be suitable for many children, especially those with SEND, English as an additional language (EAL) or the summer-born. Initial proposals for changes to the EYFS Profile are not always supported by evidence of child development, and must recognise the EYFS curriculum is for children 0-5 . Through piloting and consultation the new revised EYFS must end up stlil recognising that every child is unique and make sure our very young children don’t experience too formal a curriculum too early.

“Everyone working in early years has expertise on what works and what needs to change in the current EYFS and the ELGs and we would urge you all to take time to share your expertise so we continue to ensure the EYFS is seen as a world-class curriculum for early education.”

The coalition members include Early Education, the Early Years Alliance, Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network (ECSDN), Early Childhood Forum (ECF), Keeping Early Years Unique (KEYU), the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), Sector Endorsed Foundation Degrees in the Early Years (SEFDEY) and TACTYC: the Association for Professional Development in Early Years.  Meetings also include observers from unions including the NAHT, ASCL, NEU, NASUWT and the coalition also has support from specialist groups including the Early Childhood Mathematics Group (ECMG) and Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children (MERYC)

For further information contact any of the following:

Beatrice Merrick, Early Education, [email protected] 07712 398672

Deri Jones, Early Years Alliance, [email protected], 0207 697 2598

Earlier in 2019 ..

Please read TACTYC’s response to Ofsted’s EIF consultation here – this was sent to Ofsted this week by our fabulous President Wendy Scott.  TACTYC also offered further suggestions of contemporary and seminal research here to support policy making in the early years. We will keep you posted on progress! Please do share with your colleagues and discuss. We would also like to invite members to submit their own suggestions ….

Young children as guinea pigs TACTYC STOP PRESS

Read the latest TACTYC paper, entitled ‘Young children as guinea pigs: the Reception Baseline Assessment Framework’.  This paper criticises the government’s planned national pilot of reception class baseline testing, released by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). Education experts from TACTYC state that the STA framework fails to address the substantive problems with baseline assessment that have been repeatedly identified by education experts, teachers and parents. Equally, the new information about the content and administration of the test raises additional concerns.



Published: January 9, 2019 |

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