Last year, the Government announced plans to review the early years curriculum, including revising the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) and rewriting the educational programmes for each area of learning.
The controversial proposals, set to come into force in September 2021, include the removal of shape, space and measure and technology from the ELGs and the Areas of Learning and an increased focus on literacy.
They have been dubbed 'a rewrite of the EYFS curriculum by the back door' and ‘not based on evidence’ by Early Education. The Early Years Alliance said the changes to the maths goals ‘remove the real-world contexts that support children to gain a solid understanding of maths’.
The consultation, which closes on 31 January 2020, draws upon findings from the evaluation of the EYFS Profile pilot and revised Early Learning Goals, published today by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
It seeks views on the following:
- Revisions to the educational programmes under the seven areas of learning;
- Revisions to the 17 early learning goals;
- Changes to the assessment and moderation process for the EYFS Profile, including the criteria used to score each child (emerging, expected, exceeding);
- Changes to the safeguarding and welfare requirements to promote good oral health.
The launch of the consultation comes after a survey of 3,000 early years practitioners last month revealed little support for making extensive changes to the current EYFS.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, queried the use of open-text boxes for consultation responses, saying it was ‘likely to make genuine, detailed analysis of responses very difficult, and begs the question: how interested is the Government on what the sector has to say on this issue?’
He added, ‘We know that young children benefit from a broad, rounded and holistic approach to early years learning - and yet the proposed changes to the Early Learning Goals demonstrate a move in the opposite direction.
‘That said, we urge all providers to respond to this consultation. It is vital that the views of those who use the EYFS on a day-to-day basis, and have an in-depth understanding of the way children learn and develop, are taken into account.’
The changes are more popular with teaching unions, however.
The National Association of Head Teachers’ director of policy James Bowen said the goals were an ‘important assessment tool’ and added, ‘It is right that there should be a focus on early language and communication skills, alongside other key areas of development such as children’s personal, social and emotional development.’
Ahead of the revised EYFS being made compulsory, schools can volunteer to implement the Early Learning Goals one year early (2020).
Beatrice Merrick, chief executive of Early Education, said, 'We urge the early years sector to respond to this important consultation. Early Education and other sector bodies have worked hard as a coalition to inform and influence DfE as the draft was prepared, but we believe there is still room for considerable improvement in the text of the educational programmes and early learning goals.
Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) said, 'We are encouraging all members and other practitioners to respond to this important consultation and read PACEY’s own response to the consultation which will be publish soon.
In addition to the support from PACEY, we are keen to understand how the DfE plan to provide the appropriate training alongside these changes, as well as an updated Development Matters. The resources to support practitioners to prepare are critical to ensuring any changes to the EYFS are embedded into day-to-day practice without placing additional demand and paperwork on already over-stretched providers.'
Education minister Nick Gibb said, ‘The consultation launched today will help make sure the Early Years Foundation Stage framework will make a difference to a child’s education as they move through the early years to more formal schooling.’
- The consultation is available here