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Golden Time Troubles and Chris Mayoh on Edtech for the early years – PP59

The topic of the week is Golden Time Troubles  and Chris Mayoh on Edtech for the early years.


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Golden Time

After experiencing Golden Time for many years in Primary classrooms, Paul has come to the decision that he really doesn’t like it. He thinks it ends up being connected with the practice of putting names on the board for negative reasons – the ‘naughty names on the board’. He has talked before about how to flip this into a recognition board, trying to highlight the children who are doing the right thing. Ticks are added to the naughty names and these translate to 5 minutes off Golden Time.

What is Golden Time?

This is usually a 15 minute time slot on a Friday afternoon where there is a special activity or a free-choice of activities. Only the children who have managed to maintain some or all of their Golden Time throughout the week are allowed to take part. There are children who behave well and get their Golden Time every week. Similarly there are children who will never get Golden Time. It is possible that all Golden Time is lost on a Monday morning through a bout of bad behaviour.

Any ‘tension you had on the rope’ you had with that child is gone by 10:30am on Monday morning.

Is it time to abandon Golden Time?

The strategy is driving a wedge between those who receive it and those who don’t. Even if you adjust it to enable children to gain their time back, which seems sensible, children are encouraged to try to ‘game’ the system. Behaviour becomes less about self-discipline and more about how to play the game to ensure you have Golden Time left at the end of the week.

Paul points out that 15 minutes of Golden Time is also not much of an incentive for those who never get it and even the name suggests that those who don’t receive it are something other than ‘golden’ – are they ‘bronze’ or ‘brass’ – second best or not as good as the others. This ‘divide and rule’ approach is never productive. Paul has even seen a school in which the children who don’t receive Golden Time are made to sit at the side and watch those who have been successful. This is negative, humiliating and nasty.

What do you think?

Do you use Golden Time? Is it successful? Have you abandoned it? Have you managed to change it into something more productive? Let us know via Twitter – @PivotalPaul @PivotalPodcast or via email –

We were delighted that our Educational Technology Correspondent, Chris Mayoh, was able to join us to talk about Early Years and Foundation Stage Edtech.

Firstly, Chris tells us what he’s been up to since we spoke to hom last and shares some great examples of work he has been doing including at Long Sutton Primary School who have bucked the current trend and are deliberately using as many different devices and operating systems as they can in order to emphasise the importance of concepts and techniques rather than particular brands or systems. This includes great approaches to the terminology used in technology as well. For example, do we ‘Google’ for information or do we use a search engine.

Educational Technology in the Early Years and Foundation Stage

Chris says that there is a big difference between what we should expect Edtech experiences to be like for EYFS classes and those further up the age range.

There are plenty of software packages for ‘traditional’ equipment such as laptops and desktop computers. aimed at younger children which are brilliant. Paint packages and early writing packages, for example, are great to give younger children opportunities to become familiar with the technology and practise concepts such as input/output. However, devices you wouldn’t necessarily see further up the age range are also very useful.

Programmable toys are brilliant at exploring the concepts of ‘what if’ – what happens if I press this button? Remote controlled cars teach the idea that children can control devices depending on the instructions they give them.

Role play

This works particularly well in role-play situations like a home corner where toy kettles, vacuum cleaners, microwaves etc. which really work with sounds and coloured lights help children to understand that they can control technology – this is really important.

Technical language

There is a tendency nationally to assume that, because we are dealing with younger children, it is not necessary or desirable to use the correct, technical language. Chris categorically disagrees with this.

It is very, very important to use all of the correct technical terminology and allow and expect children to use that language themselves.

For example, children should be able to use terms confidently like home button, power button, volume controls when using an iPad. If we can get the basic technological vocabulary nailed early on, children will walk into Year 1 classes ready to use technology in a slightly more formal fashion.

If you are concerned that you might not be using the correct technical language yourself, search online for ‘EYFS computing’ or ‘EYFS ICT’ and you will find many local authority sites which include lists and explanations of technical vocabulary.


Paul and Chris agree that taking old equipment apart is a useful activity. Rather than being upset that the lower end of the school becomes a dumping ground for old equipment from the rest of the school, it should be seen as opening up a brand new possibility – even if taking devices apart only encourages curiosity in younger children, it is very much worthwhile.

How to get it wrong

Chris says that he has seen some EYFS classrooms getting their approach to digital and technological devices all wrong. The approach of keeping technological resources in a cupboard and every so often wheeling them out is highly counter-productive. This kind of very controlled or limited access is wrong. If you have the technology, get it out, leave it out and allow children to explore, self-select and maybe bring their knowledge and experience from outside school into the classroom.

Paul agrees and says he has visited a school where the iPads are only removed from their cupboard when the children have been behaving well. Chris points out that these are not reward and sanction tools – rather, they are learning opportunities which should not in any way be linked to behaviour. He also likens this to stopping children doing PE if they don’t behave well enough – it’s absolutely the wrong message to be sending out and there’s nothing more likely to cause behaviour problems that removing the activity which the child loves the most.

Find Chris via his website –

Tweet of the Week



Pivotal Podcast Pocketbooks
PEpocketbook-BUNDLE2Newly-created Pivotal Podcast Pocketbooks are now available from Amazon. There will be a huge range of Pocketbooks from Pivotal Education, starting with the edited transcripts of some of the most popular episodes of the podcast.

The idea of releasing written versions of episodes came from listeners who wanted to be able to make notes and use the content in different ways. If you would like a particular episode to be converted into an ebook, please let us know!

(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –



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