Practitioners want play and characteristics of effective learning in alternative EYFS guidance

Annette Rawstrone
Thursday, November 12, 2020

Play and the Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) should be given more emphasis in alternative guidance being developed to support the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), a survey has found.

More than nine in ten respondents want to see play included in the alternative EYFS guidance
More than nine in ten respondents want to see play included in the alternative EYFS guidance

More than 1,600 early years professionals responded to the survey by the Early Years Coalition (EYC), a group of 15early years sector organisations, aimed at establishing what practitioners want from non-statutory guidance following criticism of the revised Development Matters document published by the Department of Education in September.

The vast majority of respondents want to see play (92 per cent) and CoEL (89 per cent) included in the alternative guidance, to be known as ‘Birth to 5 Matters – early years guidance by the sector, for the sector’. There was also a lot of support for Prime and Specific Areas of Learning and Development  (79 per cent) and identifying possible developmental delay (78 per cent).

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents believe that the guidance should be structured under the EYFS Themes and Principles, like the Commitments cards that accompanied the 2008 EYFS.     

An area of contention was whether the current age and stage bands should be retained. While 45 per cent said that they should, 40 per cent disagreed and 15 per cent did not know. Of those who answered ‘no’ 62 per cent suggested that there should be bands but with no ages.

‘All of the way through [the analysis] we had a lot of agreement but when we get to the real nitty gritty of what we should do about the age and stage bands then that is when suddenly there is a much more diffuse way of looking at how best we approach that,’ said project lead Nancy Stewart. ‘That is the area that we are now looking at most closely to come up with some first draft ideas of how we will do that.’

She added, ‘There is a fine line between being told very clearly not to change too much but also recognising that there are areas that can be improved. There are obviously areas that we can make stronger or include that were not there before and we need to think creatively about how we can pull that together.’

Eighteen working groups are now looking in detail at the specific areas within the overall outline with the aim of a first draft of the guidance being published online in a month’s time along with another survey. Ms Stewart emphasises that it will be a ‘work in progress’ with some gaps but that the EYC is keen to gain feedback and ensure that they are ‘on the right track’. 

The EYC was pleased with the initial survey’s 1,647 response rate and good representation of practitioners across private and public settings. The respondents were both more experienced and more qualified than average, with 87 per cent having worked in the sector for more than five years and 81 per cent having a Foundation degree or above. In response to this, there are plans to capture the views and comments of people trained up to Level 3 and new to the sector through focus groups.   

A second draft of the guidance and further consultation is planned for mid-February with the aim of launching the completed Birth to 5 Matters guidance document at the end of March 2021. There will be a website with an interactive version along with further resources and evidence basis.

 

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