The Save Childhood Movement's 'Too Much Too Soon' initiative was launched in 2013 to help raise awareness about the fact that children in the UK start formal learning much earlier than most other countries, that the value of their creative and expressive play was being steadily undermined, and that they were being exposed to a range of developmentally inappropriate pressures that were damaging to their long-term health and wellbeing. See the original Aims and Objectives
It provided the evidence to show that there was no clear scientific research to support such an early start, but a great deal to suggest that it may be detrimental not only to their wellbeing but also to their learning dispositions and later academic achievement. The launch was given front page prominence in the Telegraph and, over the next few days, achieved an extraordinarily high level of national media coverage and debate.
The 127 signatories of the Open Letter expressed widespread concern about the subsequent nature of the response from the DfE, the denial of legitimacy of the concerns raised, the denigration of the credibility of those challenging current policy and the distortion of what was actually being said. In April 2014 a further letter was sent to all the party leaders by a growing alliance of concerned organisations. This letter was accompanied by a letter of support from the Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg. In July 2014 the main DfE team was replaced, but the core issues remained the same.
When the government announced its intention to introduce Baseline Assessment for four year-olds an increasingly powerful alliance of key organisations started to come together under the separate 'Better without Baseline' campaign and in April 2016 the government backed down.
The testing and accountability requirements of the new Primary Curriculum then started to negatively impact on teacher health and wellbeing, with the NUT ultimately publishing its own report 'Exam Factories'. A number of new campaign groups also sprang up during this time.
It is crucial that it is recognised that the current system of measuring pupils’ attainment
and using this to judge schools and teachers is deeply damaging to children and young people,
and does not foster the skills and talents that are needed in higher education or in employment,
or the attributes that will be valued in future citizens. An urgent review of current accountability
measures should take place, with a view to substantially changing them.
NUT, Exam Factories, 2016
And in Scotland the Upstart Campaign was launched to challenge the Scottish School Starting Age.
8th April, 2016 - Ministers back down