An increased awareness of the implications of quality experiences in the early years
has resulted in a growing interest in early childhood education. Subsequently, this
has generated an interest in differing examples of early childhood curriculums.
The following essay will critique the international approach, Te Whãriki and compare
the New Zealand educational system to the Early Years Foundation Stage
Curriculum of the United Kingdom. The essay will include reflection upon the
similarities and differences of these approaches upon my settings practice.
Today’s society has recognised that significant investment in early year’s provision
has valuable long term effects on young children, families and the wider
community. Cited in (Papatheodorou and Moyles, p1) As a result government
intervention has increased as policy makers attempt to raise standards and improve
the quality of early years education. However these policies have prompted much
debate such as child centred versus outcome based or play versus instruction.
Headlines such as “Too much too soon” or “The nappy curriculum”, (Tasker, 2011)
demonstrate societies conflicting views on what is best for children, generating an
interest in comparisons between other countries policies and programs.
Early year’s provision is different from country to country depending upon that
countries beliefs and goals of provision. Countries such as Sweden originally
provided child care to enable mothers back into the work force resulting in
environments set up to take over as a trustworthy adult while parents went back to
work. Whilst this too is a goal of the United Kingdom provision there is also an
emphasis on better preparing children from low income families for success in
school. These two differing ideas result in the Swedish system providing more of a
whole child approach in contrast to a more academic approach of the United
Kingdom. (Cochran, p67) Interestingly the United Kingdom, France and United
States of America are criticised for continuing to see early year’s education as a
utilitarian system of preparing for entering the workforce. Whilst the Nordic countries,
Russia, Japan, Asia and New Zealand it is instead seen as having intrinsic value in
its own right. (Ellyat, 2008)
These contrasting approaches result in differing early year’s provision from country
to country. As previously suggested The United Kingdoms’ Early Years Foundation
Stage Curriculum (Department for Education, 2012) and New Zealands’ Te Whãriki
Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 1996) have differing ideas in their approach
however further research indicates that they also have many similarities.
Both the Te Whãriki (Ministry of Education, 1996) and Early Years Foundation Stage
Curriculums (Department for Education, 2012) contain admirable statements about
high quality early education giving children the best start in life. The Curriculums are