Development Matters revised for new EYFS

Monday, July 22, 2019

The curriculum guidance for the revised EYFS is currently being developed, including an update of the non-statutory Development Matters, which is being rewritten as part of the reforms.

Julian Grenier, head teacher at Sheringham Nursery School in Newham, east London, is leading on the updating of the document with the Department for Education.

It is rolling out the guidance alongside the EYFS reforms, with the revised Development Matters due to be published in early 2020.

The DfE said it aims to focus practitioners and teachers on the importance of rich daily activities to improve outcomes and to help reduce workload.

The DfE has also appointed an EYFS advisory panel of 11 members, which includes Mr Grenier and ten others from the worlds of teaching and education (see box).

Although there are no individual representatives from the PVI nursery sector on the panel, Nursery World understands that the Early Years Alliance, the National Day Nurseries Association and the Professional Association of Early Years and Childcare (PACEY) are also involved in the guidance revision process.


The DfE’s Foundation Years team has been holding a series of Learn, Explore, Debate events around the country this month to engage with the sector to ensure the guidance document helps to reduce practitioner and teacher workload.

A presentation at the events set out the DfE’s rationale for updating the curriculum guidance for the EYFS:

To improve early years outcomes – in line with the Government’s social mobility ambitions to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children in order to narrow development gaps.

To reduce workload burdens – putting the focus back on the curriculum, rather than assessment and providing a foundation for helping teachers and practitioners to plan setting/classroom activities.

To provide specific Reception year guidance – to ensure children have strong foundations to begin Year 1.

This will be part of the overall guidance document covering the whole EYFS age range. The DfE said the new document should be clear about purpose and objectives, and be easy to follow for practitioners and teachers.

It should retain ‘the positive content of Development Matters’ and was not about ‘wholesale change’ but ‘improving on a familiar structure to meet our objectives’.

The DfE said it would:

  • cover what children should be guided to do under the seven areas of learning as set out in the EYFS framework, and not against the Early Learning Goals, in order to discourage unnecessary tracking of development stages – this should shift the focus to teaching against the areas of learning and not what is assessed
  • be ‘fairly high level’ and not ‘prescriptive’, i.e. providing teachers and practitioners with a guide to help with curriculum planning, and not the plan itself
  • be rooted in sound, evidence-based, effective practice where possible.

The DfE said it also wants to hear views from the wider early years sector, particularly on:

  • How can the age-stages development points be structured to discourage unnecessary tracking?
  • Would links to examples of effective practice be useful?
  • What would you like to see as an addition to the new guidance – which would be helpful to practitioners?

EYFS Advisory Panel – membership

Claire Sealy – St Matthias School

Jjulian-grenierulian Grenier (right) – Sheringham Nursery School

Dame Alison Peacock – Chartered college of Teaching

Emma Lennard – Civitas

Gill Jones – Ofsted

James Bowen – National Association of Head Teachers

Sara-Jayne Martin – Roxbourne Primary School, Harrow

Sir Kevan Collins – Education Endowment Foundation

Beatrice Merrick – Early Education

Iram Siraj – Oxford University

Jan Dubiel – early years consultant (formerly Early Excellence)

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