Practitioners want EYFS left as it is

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There is 'overwhelming' support among most early years practitioners for the EYFS framework, new research by the Institute of Education suggests.

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The study, commissioned by the former DCSF and published by the current Government, aimed to find out the views of those working with the framework throughout the children's workforce, ahead of a review of the EYFS this year. In July, children's minister Sarah Teather announced the review of the EYFS led by Dame Clare Tickell.

The report, Practitioners' Experiences of the Early Years Foundation Stage, concluded that there was 'overwhelming satisfaction with the current requirements', but noted that there were criticisms of the framework's implementation.

It added, 'The majority of respondents would like to see only minor changes in the EYFS, and would prefer "no change" to radical change in the current requirements.

'Many of the dissatisfactions expressed by practitioner groups stem from the implementation of the EYFS rather than the documentation itself, which is widely viewed as embodying the beliefs, principles and practices to which most practitioners adhere.'

Literacy and numeracy goals 'disliked'

The areas of learning were found to be 'generally appropriate', but there was some criticism of the levels set for the early learning goals for Communication, Language and Literacy and the Problem-Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy goals.

The report said, 'Both teachers and headteachers disliked the strong emphasis on emergent literacy and numeracy (CLL, PSRN) and felt that these goals tended to be pursued at the expense of Personal, Social and Emotional Development.'

Practitioners also said that they found that the need for assessments against the EYFS Profile, were 'increasingly problematic' in reception and 'practitioners attempt to map children's individual developmental trajectories on to a scale which many practitioners regard as ill-founded, illogical or inappropriate'.

The research took place during the first 18 months since the framework's introduction, between September 2008 and March 2010, and involved 190 attending focus groups and subsequent one-to-one interviews with 42 practitioners.

A consultation was launched in August, inviting nurseries, childminders, parents and all those working with the EYFS to contribute their views on the framework to feed into the review. The consultation closes at the end of the month.

COMMENTS FROM THE REPORT

'Our bible.' Reception class teacher

'Like a big lifeline for all the settings.' Nursery nurse

'There wasn't much of a change at all since we worked in that way before the EYFS became statutory.' Early years practitioner

'It confirmed a lot of our beliefs and how we were working before.' Reception teacher

'The main changes in the EYFS have been in the way we plan. Before the EYFS it was more or less staff-initiated planning, now it's more child-inspired. We oberserve the children, then we plan and we also take ideas from the children and the parents and staff.' Setting manager

'I don't say "We're going to do lots of jigsaws" because we need to do problem-solving and numeracy. It's what the children want to do, and then I fit it in with the curriculum.' Childminder

'I like the bringing together of care and education. It was seen before as educating and care was separate. It's a holistic approach - everything is about learning.' Early Years Professional.

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