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The Revised EYFS – Are we missing the point?

May 27, 2021
6 minute read

As September looms ever closer, many early years leaders are thinking about how they will prepare for the implementation of the revised EYFS. There will be many discussions with managers, owners and staff teams regarding how the setting should adapt, change and improve their practice to embrace the changes.

early years leadership child playing image

There will be lots of questions and debates happening….

Should we use Birth to Five or Development Matters?

How should we now monitor children’s progress?

What paperwork do I need?

How can I evidence children’s learning?

How will we track their development based on their starting points?

What about next steps?

Sound familiar? These are questions we have been inundated with here at Early Years Leadership and so I felt compelled to answer them….well, kind of.

You see, I think these questions are somewhat missing the point. Whilst I completely understand the worries, uncertainties and questions around the revised EYFS, we seem to have forgotten that the majority of settings have been doing an excellent job in terms of children’s early education and care, and will continue to do so.

What’s more, we have become so used to being driven by the data, assessments and tick lists that not having them is perhaps a little un-nerving. It may feel as though our security blanket has been taken away, or it may feel like brand new opportunity to do things a little differently!

However you feel about the revised EYFS, it’s not going away, so we should embrace it and use it to make a positive difference to the service we offer to our children and families. The changes themselves are insignificant when you think about the bigger picture. Yes, ok  there is a change to the wording, a new approach to assessment, but isn’t this what we’ve been waiting for? An opportunity to really make early years amazing? A chance to scrap the assessments, unnecessary paperwork, and really allow practitioners to use their skills and knowledge to support children’s learning?

The opportunity to write our own curriculum, to offer pedagogy that truly meets the needs of the children in our community is in our hands and we should totally run with it.

But how I hear you ask!

early years leadership

Maybe starting with different questions could be helpful…..

How can we use the revised EYFS to improve our practice?

What aspects of our environment are particularly engaging in our setting?

What makes our setting unique?

What do we believe, as a team, is the right way forward for children in our setting?

What gaps do we have in the skills of our team?

What does parent feedback tell us about their preferences and needs?

What do children need to learn while they are in our setting?

How can we provide an engaging environment that helps children to learn?

By focussing on the needs of the children and families in your communities, what you want children to learn and how you will support children to learn these things, you have your curriculum and pedagogy in the bag!! Focussing on what children want to learn and building on that, to offer new and exciting experiences, is the perfect way to support children’s learning and development. By having a balance of child-led and adult-led learning opportunities, children can engage in playful learning that they are interested in, with a skilled practitioner scaffolding the learning and offering new and exciting topics to further extend the child’s learning.  

Of course, although the revised EYFS claims to reduce unnecessary paperwork and the burden on practitioners, this doesn’t mean you can just throw all paperwork out of the window. Whether you decide to go with in the moment planning, written topics, or something in between, that’s ok, and that’s the point. What is important is that your team are skilled in scaffolding children’s learning and that they have an in-depth knowledge of children’s development. By understanding typical development, practitioners can provide engaging and exciting learning, build on children’s skills and understanding, and help children to reflect on their learning and where they might like it to lead. Moreover, a skilled practitioner will be able to notice atypical development and, where necessary, provide appropriate interventions to support children’s development. It’s these children that may require some extra assessment, a little more support and focus.

And what’s even more exciting, it that now that our practitioners are no longer having to write observations, track development, stick photos and evidence of learning into folders, they have so much more time to engage with children, indulge in conversations, slow down and support children to learn through play. 

So you can see, it doesn’t matter whether you chose Birth to Five or Development Matters, or both, or neither, or something else entirely. In fact, I would suggest that having all of the above in your staff room for practitioners to refer to and use in their own way would seem like a great idea. Your practitioners will all have their own ways of learning and may prefer to use different documents themselves. What matters if the way they engage with the children.  Leaders should treat their team as unique individuals, just as we do the children.

So where to go from here?

  1. Explore the statutory framework as a team, collectively responding to the changes and understanding what this means for you in practice in your setting
  2. Book onto our revised EYFS team workshop, an interactive team session that leaves your team buzzing with new ideas and ready to embrace change
  3. Ensure everyone understands and has a vested interest in your curriculum and pedagogy
  4. Share your plans with your parents
  5. Be reflective and change/adapt where necessary, this is a fluid way of working and it’s ok to stop and decide to move to a different way of working if you need to
  6. Take your time, there is no need to have everything in place for 1st Sept….just have a longer term plan and begin working towards it.
  7. Remember that everyone is in this together……..

If you need some extra guidance or you would like us to plan an interactive workshop in your setting, contact us here

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