News about the new EYFS and Development Matters

Update 9 August 2021

 

We have made the decision NOT to update our Trackers book and it will be discontinued.

The main reason is that there is a clear emphasis in the new guidance not to follow a tracking system; to move away from the notion of identifying development at particular ages and stages; and reduce the amount of recording on paper.

We realise that in the short term this will make things difficult for childminders and all early years settings, but once the new EYFS 'beds in', and settings become more familiar with it and the expectations of Ofsted, this will be an improvement for all those involved.

Update 5 June 2021

Here is some important recent information.

Reducing Paperwork

Reducing unnecessary paperwork is a key aim of the new early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework.

Ofsted

Rather than looking at information about children, inspectors will want to discuss the progress that children are making with you. Inspectors will want to discuss:

  • what the children could do when they arrived

  • what they are working on now

  • what you want them to learn or be able to do by the time they leave

Inspectors will not expect this information to be recorded in any particular way. You can choose to record it in the way that works best for you. For example, a small setting may know their children so well that they can provide a verbal account of children’s current learning and progress.

Assessing children’s progress

Gather useful information, rather than producing lots of tracking data and documentation, or following checklists.

In ‘Development Matters’ there are ‘checkpoints’ rather than ‘checklists’. You can use the checkpoints to reflect on children’s development in the three prime areas. They’ll help you understand what children are doing well, and where they may need more support. The prime areas ensure a strong foundation for children’s development.

Understand the children currently at your setting, and the starting points for new children. Use conversations, observations, reflections and your professional knowledge to assess your children and their learning. This ongoing, formative assessment helps you make informed decisions about how to support children’s learning, as part of their wider development.

Updated Monday 5th July

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Changes in the EYFS Profile - 14 April March 2021.

The new EYFS statutory framework has been published. This is the revised and final EYFS framework that all registered nurseries, childminders, schools and pre-schools in England will follow from 1 September 2021.
 
Early years settings must continue to follow the current EYFS framework until 1 September 2021, however the revised framework is being made available for all settings now to help them prepare for the changes.

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However, here are some thoughts . . . 

It's a brave new world. It really is. 

 

Having spent that last couple of weeks reading about the new EYFS Development Matters, and listening to vodcasts presented by various people, I can honestly say I am massively impressed, and really heartened by the changes.

 

Despite having sold large numbers of Trackers over the years, it has always sat slightly uncomfortably with me . . . the whole notion of tracking children's progress against ages and stages; and in my own defence, I did strongly recommend that they were not used as a checklist/ticklist in the introduction to the book. 

I don't think anyone ever intended Development Matters to be used as a method of tracking children's progress against ages and stages, but that is what has happened over the years. And I think everyone in early years education has to hold up their hands and acknowledge that that is what happened . . . including Ofsted.

So where are we with the new EYFS Development Matters? First off, let me say that you will be familiar with a lot of it (more of that later), and secondly (happily), you will notice that it's a much shorter document. 

When I first read through it, I'm pretty sure that I was thinking what many other people were thinking too . . . which was "yes, but what about recording evidence, what about assessment?" And then I realised I was still thinking with that old mindset, and that is where this becomes the brave new world I referred to. This really is a different way of doing things.

How different?
Evidence isn't required as it was previously . . . your Early Learning Goals outcomes are no longer being moderated by education authorities. There's no need to provide evidence that children have progressed from one age band to another. In other words, there's no expectation of physical evidence.

If you're reading this and going "but . . . but . . . but", you're not alone. Read on . . . and be inspired - not by me, but by the vision of those responsible for the new guidance.

The emphasis now is that the Development Matters is there to help you structure the curriculum, in other words all the things we want the children to learn and experience. 

It sits behind your childminding/EY setting to guide and support you. But you are the professional and you are steering things. 

Think of the Development Matters as a guide to the breadth of experiences for the children rather than targets to be checked against.

There is much less content and prescription in the new Development Matters, and the good thing about that is that it is showing trust in EY professionals. You know your children . . . and knowing what your children need to learn is what is important. 

As a professional, working with parents/carers, you have a much better idea of the big picture - you will identify that some children need more help in some areas than others at various times in their learning journey and you can plan for that without focusing on ages and stages in a checklist.

So what will Ofsted expect?
Ofsted will not advocate a particular method of assessment. It's up to EY settings to determine their own practices. In other words, Ofsted will not be looking at internal assessment data.

But what will they want to see? 
The focus will be more about showing what you have taught and how you have helped the children learn . . . in other words "I have taught my children this, this and that and as a result they know this and can do that".

They will ask settings to describe their curriculum, how you are implementing it, and how you know the children are progressing. When there are barriers to learning for some children, how do you help them overcome them etc.

So, put another way - can you tell the story of each child's learning journey? Rather than gathering evidence, analysing it and looking at targets (not particularly productive) think more along the lines of "what information can I collect that will be really useful" . . . trust your professional judgement. Stop doing things that are time-consuming and unlikely to result in anything positive for the child.

So be ambitious for your children - don't think of the Development Matters as ceiling targets, think of them as a guide and about providing high quality implementation of your curriculum.

I hope, by now, you're getting a feel for what the new guidance is all about. But for those who have read it, I guess you will be asking about the Checkpoints you've seen and asking "but what about the 2 Year Progress Check . . . . it's still there and we are still going to have to fill it in and provide evidence, aren't we?"

Checkpoints and the 2 Year Progress Check
There are Checkpoints in the Primary Areas of Development Matters, and they are there to help practitioners make a quick assessment, intended as a guide to highlight any barriers. They are not intended as a tick list.

The 2 Year Progress Check is really a focus time for parents/carers and an EY setting to have a conversation about what's going well and where a child might need extra help. This is all about collaborating in support of the child's development. 

So rather than providing loads of (pretty meaningless) data to the parents, the language should be plain and descriptive, such as "Charlie is putting together duplo blocks really well" rather than providing evidence of 'fine motor skills' from some checklist.  

In summary
The EYFS as it was always meant to be . . . 

Depth in learning is far more important than superficially trying to cover everything. 

Let's face it, that's what happened with all those checklists . . . trying to make sure the children covered everything. The focus now is on good, solid progress based on your professional input and judgement.

We all know that progress is not neat and orderly . . . it's variable and requires your professional judgement to identify progress, and the need for help when necessary. 

And we all know that every child can make progress with the right support.

Don't fill in forms for the sake of it. 

Detailed observation and recording might be helpful in some areas (counting, for example, can be very difficult for some children) and you may want to take notes. But any record keeping should be to help you to help the child . . . not to provide evidence to Ofsted etc. 

One thing to keep in mind - don't stop doing what you feel is useful.

Another thing worth noting is that, as many of you will know, some settings are involved in the Early Adopter scheme and are trialling the new framework. It may be that there will be a few tweaks here and there before the new framework is rolled out in September 2021. So the Development Matters may well change slightly between now and September.

So what will replace Trackers?
What does this mean for Trackers? Quite simply, there is no need for Trackers any longer. You are freed from the burden of endless recording. Use your professional knowledge and judgement to record what will be useful and spend more time with the children in your care.

I did look at producing something like a Learning Journal or Development Journal with hints and tips; something in which practitioners could write some notes in the Checkpoints, with a final 2 Year Checklist. But really, I don't think there is any need. It would be just as easy (and cheaper!) for you to have a simple file for each child with the information that you and parents will find helpful.

Nevertheless, I will keep this under review. If I can devise something that I think might be useful, I will. And I'm more than happy to have any suggestions and comments you might wish to send me.

Finally
Take the next few months to familiarise yourself with the new framework.

COVID has made us all use the internet so much more as a learning tool.

 

There are some very good online Vodcasts, and I include the links below. I found Dr Julian Grenier (the author), in particular, just outstanding . . . in fact, he absolutely nails it. Couldn't recommend him highly enough.

 

For everyone. This is a pretty comprehensive look at what it's all about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMKNvRaVCuE 

For childminders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhrtVU9rLNM

I hope you have found this useful.

Colin Gallow