In this article
What remains the same?
It is important to know what is remaining the same and what the changes are, this article will give you greater knowledge on how to implement the September 2021 changes.
The overarching principles of the EYFS:
- Unique child.
- Positive relationships.
- Enabling environments.
- Learning and development.
The characteristics of effective learning:
- Playing and exploring.
- Active learning.
- Critical thinking.
The prime areas:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
- Communication and Language.
- Physical Development.
The specific areas:
- Understanding the World.
- Expressive Arts and Design.
Designing a curriculum
“Curriculum progress maps” are not necessary. Ofsted will check that there is a curriculum that can be shown in practice, described and covers all the required age groups. There are no requirements about the format or the length.
Any Early Years curriculum must be defined by the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which sets out the seven areas of learning and what children should be able to do by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (the Early Learning Goals).
- Every setting’s curriculum should be unique but progress towards those same ELGs.
- Good practice is still good practice! Much of what settings do will remain the same.
- ‘Quality Teaching’ has been replaced by ‘Quality of Education’ in the framework.
- Ofsted judgements will be based on ‘Intent’, ‘Implementation’ and ‘Impact’.
What is ‘Intent’?
‘Intent’ is used to describe a setting’s agreed way of working and is the broad aims of a setting.
Settings can choose to use formalised educational approaches like Montessori, Waldorf-Steiner or ‘The curiosity approach’. Settings can also choose to use particular ways of working like the continuous provision model, or planning in the moment.
Aims of intent:
- The aims of a setting will be influenced by its cohort, community, history, staff, environment etc.
- As long as staff can articulate the intent of the setting, and why this has been chosen, it is considered acceptable.
- Many settings will use the introduction of the revised framework as a good time to revisit their aims, or ‘intent’.
How to apply implementation?
Implementation is simply about what settings do on a day-to-day basis to help children make progress towards the ELGs.
- Resources: The resources available in a setting can help children make progress towards the ELGs. For example, providing Maths resources can help children to learn one-to-one correspondence.
- Interactions: The kinds of interactions that take place on a daily basis can help children to make progress towards the ELGs. For example, the way that staff speak to children and build vocabulary can help children develop communication skills.
- Opportunities: Opportunities to play outside, engage in activities, go on trips, take part in different events etc.
- Teaching: Ofsted is clear that “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.”
When judging implementation of the EYFS, Ofsted will look for the following:
- Children benefit from meaningful learning across the EYFS curriculum.
- Practitioners understand the areas of learning they teach.
- Practitioners understand the way in which young children learn.
- Over the EYFS, teaching is designed to help children remember long term what they have been taught and to integrate new knowledge into larger concepts.
- Practitioners and leaders create an environment that supports the intent of an ambitious and coherently planned and sequenced curriculum.
- Practitioners plan suitably challenging activities and respond to specific needs.
- The available resources meet the children’s needs and promote their focus on learning.
These are all points worth considering when planning a curriculum.
How to implement impact?
- ‘Impact’ means how you know what you do is making a difference.
- Observations and assessments are meaningful ways of demonstrating impact.
- Staff should also be able to discuss children’s likes, dislikes, strengths and struggles, showing that they know children well.
- Impact is also your assessment of how well your setting is meeting its aims.
- How you measure impact can be varied; you might use assessment data, parental views, practitioner observations, audits etc.
- As you set intentions and begin to implement the revised EYFS, consider how you will measure or make judgements about ‘impact’.
How to implement the new requirement – oral health
The statutory framework requires that providers promote oral health; “3.45. The provider must promote the good health, including the oral health, of children attending the setting” p.32.
Settings can decide how they promote oral health:
- Oral health can be linked to other forms of health like self-care, healthy eating and physical development.
- Oral health promotion doesn’t need to be a formally taught topic, it can be embedded in day-to-day activities.
- Oral health can be promoted through play; children can brush the teeth of dolls or soft toys.
- Oral health can be promoted at storytime; try reading stories about teeth and smiles.
- Oral health can be promoted at snack time and mealtimes; talk about healthy food and drinks that help to grow strong teeth.
- Oral health can be promoted through planned activities; looking in the mirror at teeth, using playdough to create smiles, brushing laminated pictures etc.
- Oral health can be promoted with parents; talking about tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste, providing parents and carers with practical advice to support oral health at home.
- You can also support children’s awareness of oral health by visiting dentists or having them visit you, providing or showing toothbrushing kits, showing toothbrushing routines.
- Some settings may decide to implement supervised toothbrushing, but this is NOT a requirement.
- There are various schemes that support toothbrushing; settings can read the supervised toothbrushing programme toolkit from Public Health England for more information.
How to implement the new aim – less paperwork
- One of the aims of the changes to the EYFS was to reduce the amount of paperwork, and the time spent on paperwork. This was to allow practitioners to spend more time with children.
- In implementing the EYFS, practitioners, childminders and leaders/managers should review their current paperwork systems and evaluate their effectiveness.
- This may include reviewing all the paperwork practitioners complete, asking: what do we do? Why do we do this? Who are we doing it for?
- This may also mean reviewing the amount of paperwork required for planning and assessments. Asking questions like: How much information is collected for learning journals? (observations, photos, samples) Is it all necessary? Could it be done more efficiently?
- Settings should aim to reduce paperwork by improving efficiency, ensuring that all paperwork makes a difference to the children and focussing on quality rather than quantity.
Training, development and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) opportunities
Implementing the revised EYFS means that there is an opportunity to review training, development and CPD opportunities for all staff. Practitioners need time to develop an understanding of the revised EYFS, Development Matters and/or Birth to 5 Matters.
Other key points:
- Ensure that practitioners’ qualifications are deemed full and relevant.
- Ensure that paediatric first aid certificates are up to date and full certificates.
- Review safeguarding, Prevent, British values training.
- Review Health and Safety policies and training (inc. COSHH and Food Safety).
- Review the support and training available to ensure practitioners have a good understanding of child development.
- Ensure that practitioners have regular opportunities to discuss individual children with colleagues (their needs, interests, characteristics and development) to identify where children are in their development and what the priorities are for children.
How to implement communication skills
One of the key objectives in revising the EYFS was to improve outcomes for all children. A key way to improve outcomes for all children is to improve communication skills.
By the age of three, children from wealthier families will have heard 30 million more words than children growing up in poorer homes. Promoting communication skills is vital for improving outcomes across the board, in the EYFS and beyond.
The revised EYFS has a deliberate focus on communication skills and vocabulary; implementing the revised EYFS is a good time to review how settings can support communication skills. Communication-friendly spaces approach advocates for examining the impact of the environment on communication.
- Getting to know children: Ensure that practitioners have time to get to know children and their families, so that they have the background information required to understand what children talk about.
- Prioritise opportunities for conversation: Particularly during unstructured moments in the day such as when children are at play.
- Model listening: Listening is an integral part of conversation, and the ability to listen is every bit as important as the ability to speak.
- Scaffolding understanding: ‘Understanding’ is integral to speaking and listening, so help children to understand different concepts.
Review assessment arrangements
Assessment should be ongoing and formative, informing planning.
Summative assessments are: two-year check, Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) and the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP). Implementing the revised EYFS means that it is the ideal time to review how the setting carries out assessment.
Linked to reducing paperwork, ensure that assessment paperwork is necessary, useful and benefits children. Ofsted say they want to see that “Leaders understand the limitations of assessment and avoid unnecessary burdens for staff or children”. This means that ‘data’ and ‘tracking’ are not over-emphasised.
There is strong emphasis on NOT using guidance or ELGs as a tick list. Look at the broad ages and stages or age range and use a ‘best fit’ approach.
Ask questions like:
- Are children on track with their development?
- Is their development typical for their age?
- What are the most important things to know about their development?
- Which areas do they need further support with?
Ofsted are looking to see that “practitioners and leaders use assessment well to check what children know and can do to inform teaching”.
How can leaders and managers implement changes?
Leaders and managers will play a key role in implementing the revised EYFS. Leaders and managers ‘set the tone’ for implementing changes in their setting.
Approach the changes as a positive opportunity to review what is working well and replace what isn’t.
Key points for leaders and managers:
- Try to avoid negative, stressful messaging.
- Brief your staff about the changes.
- Ofsted say they are looking to see that “Leaders provide effective support, including for staff with less experience and knowledge of teaching”.
- Contact your local authority or support groups to find out what advice they can offer.
- Communicate with parents and carers about the changes and how your setting is approaching them.
How can practitioners implement changes?
As a practitioner working within the EYFS it is your responsibility to know and understand your role within the new statutory requirements. Ask your manager or team leader to explain any changes that your setting is making as a result of the revised EYFS.
Continue to use your professional judgement when working with children; good practice is still good practice. Development Matters should not be used as a tick list but does include examples of what children will be learning and how practitioners can support this.
There are also ‘Observation checkpoints’ in Development Matters which are a series of questions for practitioners to ask themselves about the children’s development.
Birth to 5 Matters is a more detailed document which can support practitioners with assessment and planning. Birth to 5 Matters includes practical ideas of what adults can do and what adults can provide.
How can childminders implement the changes?
Just like nurseries and preschools, every childminder is responsible for setting their own curriculum; ensure that you are able to justify why you do what you do.
Key points for childminders:
- Take the opportunity to review your paperwork; is it necessary? Is it useful? Who benefits from it?
- Contact your local authority who may be able to offer advice and support about implementing the changes to the EYFS.
- Seek advice from an association you’re a member of e.g. PACEY.
- Consider contacting other childminders in your area to share experiences, for example by joining a childminder support group.
- Communicate with parents and carers about the changes and how you are approaching them.
What are the concerns?
Key bodies are still expressing concerns about the revised EYFS, mainly around the lack of input from the sector in developing guidance and the focus on school readiness.
Mapping the Landscape report from the Early Years Coalition is a national survey of practitioners’ views about the EYFS.
Key findings from Mapping the Landscape include:
- Concerns that a chronic lack of resources has led to insufficient support for working with parents, inter-professional working, and opportunities for professional development.
- Some of the main criticisms of the EYFS are concerned with the misuse of guidance documents as ‘checklists’.
- Feedback from the survey suggests that improved opportunities for professional development across the sector would bring a greater depth of understanding of Early Years pedagogy.
- Changes to the ELGs will not drive improvement for children’s outcomes or increase social mobility, as it is not the EYFS document itself that drives this but the home learning environment, adequacy of funding and the expertise of Early Years practitioners.
- More Than A Score campaign continues to campaign against Reception Baseline Assessment.
- Birth to 5 Matters published by Early Education, and an accompanying website with lots of guidance.