EYFS review prioritises how children learn

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How, rather than what, children learn should be given greater emphasis under a revised early years framework, the EYFS review has recommended.


Dame Clare Tickell states, 'I recommend that playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically are highlighted in the EYFS as three characteristics of effective teaching and learning.'

The characteristics, she proposes, should also be added to a revised EYFS Profile.

While acknowledging that these are already 'implicit' in the current framework, Dame Clare goes on to say, 'I believe the EYFS would be a better product if these were made explicit. They are lifelong characteristics which need to be fostered and developed during the early years, as they are critical for building children's capacity for future learning.

A renewed emphasis on these characteristics will, she adds, 'encourage the spread of excellent practice', alongside other recommendations to realign the areas of learning and to cut the number of early learning goals from 69 to 17.

Under the proposals, the current areas of learning should be divided into three 'prime' areas (Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication and Language, and Physical Development) and four 'specific' areas (Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design).

Early years experts welcomed the renewed emphasis on the characteristics but pointed to the wider implications of the move.

Early years consultant Penny Tassoni said, 'It will require that practitioners understand what the characteristics look like in terms of the everyday practice and routines within a setting, especially when working with younger children.

'But there is also a great deal to be done in terms of helping parents to see that this way of working with children is effective. Many parents still like to see that their children are being formally taught.'

Early years adviser for Tower Hamlets local authority, Julian Grenier, said, 'While welcoming the review, I think some of the distinctions implied by Dame Clare are not simple - for example, there will be many different views about how "playing" differs from "exploring", and in turn how these are different to "active learning". We will need to be careful about trying to simplify all this too much.

'I think that, in the end, effective practice will develop through further training, reflection and professional dialogue. New guidelines will be the start of this process, but they will not be sufficient in themselves.'

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