Upstart campaign


We’re excited to present our first Guest Blog by The Children’s Wood supporter Sue Palmer. Sue is author of Toxic Childhood and chair of Upstart – a campaign to introduce a kindergarten stage for children aged three to seven.

Earlier this summer, a group of parents, early years practitioners, primary teachers and other professionals involved in the care of young children began developing a campaign called Upstart. Its aim is the introduction of a play-based, developmentally-appropriate kindergarten stage for Scottish children aged three to seven. We hope to launch the campaign officially in Spring 2016.

One of the principles of kindergarten education is that children should be able to play outdoors – preferably in natural surroundings – as often as possible, so The Children’s Wood is a great community facility for local nurseries and children in the early years of primary education. We’re organising a meeting on the 21st of September in the Landsdown pub in Glasgow (off Great Western Road) from 7-9pm, so please come and meet us.

Curriculum for Excellence and other Scottish policy documents supports a kindergarten-style approach to education up to the age of about seven but – owing to deep-seated cultural expectations about ‘schooling’ and the influence of current English early years policies – it’s never been properly implemented. A video on this subject, Big Picture, Small Children, adapted from a presentation we recently gave to the Cabinet Secretary of State for Education and Lifelong Learning, can be found on the Upstart website (

There’s also a growing body of evidence that too early a start on academic learning has no long-term advantages for children’s learning but can cause serious problems in terms of their physical, social and emotional health. Information about the key research studies can be found in the ‘Evidence’ section of the Upstart website. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date about this, please let us know at

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