Changes to the EYFS statutory framework
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. It is mandatory for all early years settings to follow.
Back in October 2019 the Department for Education launched a public consultation seeking views on their proposed changes to the EYFS. The aim for the reforms were to improve outcomes for children and to reduce the workload in settings. With the consultation came the following changes:
Revisions to the educational programmes;
Revisions to the early learning goals;
Removal of the statutory duty for local authorities to externally moderate EYFS profile judgements;
Removal of the ‘exceeding’ judgement criteria from the EYFS profile;
Change to the safeguarding and welfare requirements to promote good oral health.
Following on from the consultation and the changes to the EYFS, the DfE published the framework and EYFS profile handbook for schools and settings participating in the EYFS reforms early adaptor year from September 2020 to August 2021.
From September 2021 the revised EYFS framework was introduced and since then we have been using the new framework. Alongside this frame work, non statutory guidance has also been developed. These are 'development matters' and 'Birth to 5 matters.' Both of these documents are available for all settings to use, or settings are able to create their own curriculum.
The EYFS seeks to provide:
quality and consistency in all early years settings, so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind
a secure foundation through planning for the learning and development of each individual child, and assessing and reviewing what they have learned regularly
partnership working between practitioners and with parents and/or carers
equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported
The EYFS also specifies requirements for learning and development, and safeguarding and welfare requirements. The learning and development requirements cover:
the areas of learning and development which must shape activities and experiences (educational programmes) for children in all early years settings
the early learning goals that providers must help children work towards (the knowledge, skills and understanding children should have at the end of the academic year in which they turn five)
assessment arrangements for measuring progress (and requirements for reporting to parents and/or carers)
The safeguarding and welfare requirements cover the steps providers must take to keep all children safe and to promote their welfare.
Learning and Development
There is non statutory guidance for learning and development by both the government and a coalition of people and settings from the sector. It is important to know that it is a legal requirement for all early years providers to adhere to the EYFS but there is no legal requirement to follow the non statutory guidance.
As a setting we have chosen to use 'Birth to 5 Matters' guidance which provides comprehensive guidance, drawing on previous guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which has been updated in order to reflect recent research, to meet the needs of practitioners, to respond to current issues in society, to meet the needs of children today and to lay a strong foundation for their futures.
The EYFS is built on a foundation of four principles and Birth to 5 Matters is underpinned by these four principles.
All children develop in their own way meaning development is not linear. Each child is unique and therefore their learning and development will be unique to them. It is important that we provide each unique child opportunities to interact in positive relationships and have enabling environments that promote curiosity and encourage engagement and recognise their own strengths and abilities. Every child will show curiosity and interest in the world and environment around them and as a team of practitioners it is our role to understand the child, how they learn and how we can best support them in their development and learning.
Learning and Development requirements
The EYFS learning and development requirements still consist of the seven areas of learning and development, the early learning goals and the assessment requirements.
Within out setting, we will ensure activities and resources support learning and development in all areas especially focusing on the prime areas but through a play based approach that allows curiosity and exploration. The EYFS 2021 says that 'Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, relate to others, set their own goals and solve problems. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.' We will therefore provide resources and activities that will cover all areas of learning and development. The areas of learning and development are as follows
Communication and language
Personal, social and emotional development
Understanding the world
Expressive arts and design
Although we would not expect any child to reach the early learning goals until the end of Reception year, as a setting we will ensure a broad range of activities and resources are available to ensure children can meet their full potential and work towards the learning goals. We use our knowledge of the children and observations to support development and to ensure we put the right next steps in place to really benefit the children. It is essential that we allow children the opportunity to learn at their own pace and give them time to play.
Teaching should not be taken to imply a “top down” or formal way of working. It is a broad term that covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language; showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas; encouraging, questioning, recalling; providing a narrative for what they are doing; facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment adults provide and the attention given to the physical environment, as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations. Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do, as well as taking account of their interests and dispositions to learn (characteristics of effective learning), and how practitioners use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.
Ofsted Early Years Inspection Handbook
We know that play is crucial for children to learn and develop and much of what children learn is through their play. This is why in the EYFS there is a huge emphasis on the characteristics of effective learning. These CofEL help practitioners see how best children learn and ensure they facilitate and tailor children's experiences and learning to them as a unique child. The characteristics of effective learning are:
Playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
Active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
Creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
A big change that although isn't within the EYFS but is different in both development matters and birth to 5 matters is the change in age banding. For years now we have put children in an age bracket for development and shown if a child is emerging, developing or secure in that area and age bracket. This is now not the case and with birth to 5 matter there are ranges. These ranges go from 1 - 6. The ranges cover a much more broad age range and many will overlap the ranges. The important thing to remember is that development is not a race, each child develops at their own rate and as a child moves up the ranges there is clear progression.
Assessment should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. When assessing whether an individual child is at the expected level of development, practitioners should draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgement and should not be required to prove this through collection of physical evidence. (EYFS 2021)
As an early years setting we are only legally expected to provide a 2 year check for the children, but we will do various assessments throughout the year. Our Assessments won't necessarily be in a written format as we will always be watching and seeing what the children can do and adjusting our practice to support them and help their development.
We use our focus child weeks to really have an in-depth look at a child's learning and development to help with seeing next steps and to address any learning and development needs.
We will do at least two summative assessments during an academic year and each child will be focus child for a minimum of 3 individual weeks. All practitioners will use their own knowledge of a child, observations and information from parents to ensure progress in development. When we complete an assessment on children the ranges will be visible and if we feel a child needs some level of support in becoming secure in that area then we will tick to say 'some focus is needed'. This allows us to see where more support and focus is needed and will guide our provision and planning. This in turn will give the children opportunity to develop more in that area through a play based approach.
We know that change can at times be difficult and bring uncertainty but we will continue to provide the best possible care for the children with plenty of learning and development opportunities. We hope that this blog gives some insight into the changes and gives a little more information.