Question mark over future of Development Matters guidance

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The Development Matters guidance widely used by early years practitioners appears to have been sidelined by the Department for Education.

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Its disappearance from the DfE's website fuels fears that there could be plans to change the early years framework and move away from a play-based curriculum.

Nursery World understands that the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) has been told not to use Development Matters in future EYFS Profile guidance and that local authority moderators have also been told not to use it.

The guidance has been removed from the DfE’s website to www.gov.uk

The non-statutory guidance is intended to support practitioners in implementing the statutory requirements of the EYFS.

It was commissioned last year by the DfE ahead of the revised EYFS, which came into force in September.

Although the guidance is non-statutory it is intended to be used as part of daily observation, assessment and planning, as well as for summative judgements at various points in the EYFS. It is published by Early Education.

Last month, Ofsted's chief inspector called for a major change to the approach to assessment in the early years.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said that the EYFS Profile was ‘too broad an assessment’ and did not link effectively to subsequent Key Stage assessments, with ‘a weak basis for accountability.’

On Nursery World’s forum there are concerns that removing Development Matters could signal a move to more structured learning and downgrade the importance of play.

Helen Moylett, co-author of Development Matters, told Nursery World, ‘I’m alarmed by the fact that it has disappeared from the website and quite alarmed as to why.’

She added, ‘What message does this give to practitioners who use this a lot and value it?’

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said, 'The Department’s website links to http://foundationyears.org.uk, a website managed by the Department’s strategic partner, which features a range of non-statutory resources to support the implementation of the EYFS, including Development Matters.'