Revised EYFS rejected by leading research centre

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Pen Green, the research centre recently appointed by the Department for Education to lead on raising standards in early years settings, has 'rejected' the revised Early Years Foundation Stage.

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In its response to the Government consultation, Pen Green said, 'We are registering our rejection of the revised EYFS. We are particularly concerned about the overall tone of the revised document, which is predominately one of regulation and reduction.'

Last month, Pen Green Research Base in Corby was chosen by the Department for Education to lead the project to raise standards and improve children's outcomes, by working with 16 children's centres and nurseries that will run as 'early years teaching centres' to help them disseminate best practice in their local areas.

Pen Green said that while the original EYFS framework helped to foster a culture that focused on developing an understanding of how children learn and encouraged practitioners to reflect on their practice, it feared that 'the revised EYFS will only encourage a tick-box approach, which will do little to develop practice and understanding'.The revised framework is more about regulation and 'preventing children slipping through the net'.

It is 'a missed opportunity to inspire the early years workforce with a useable document that sets the tone for a shared ethos around developing relationships and understanding child development, which will set the learning and development of young children back and create less, not more opportunities for affecting the very issues the Government is striving to address.'

Pen Green concludes that it is 'too soon to be making such sweeping changes and lose the value of training, thinking and reflection, and the improvements to provision that the document has made happen.'

Pen Green's main concerns are:

  • the 'translation of critical issues from the Tickell review is flawed'
  • the omission of the characteristics of effective teaching and learning;
  • scaling back the EYFS could leave 'weak practitioners with an excuse not to strive for a greater understanding of child development and learning'
  • the Tickell review stated that the specific areas of learning feed into the prime areas of learning, but this is not stated clearly enough in the revised EYFS
  • practitioners need to be encouraged to work with the 'whole child' in the context of their family - they say the document fails to do this.

'We are really concerned about the level of debate that has taken place in the formulation of this revised document. There is a lack of deeply considered detail, which makes it much less useful to parents as a curriculum document,' the response said.

Kate Hayward, assistant director of Pen Green Research Base, said, 'We're really worried because the focus of the EYFS has changed dramatically. We have no problem with the reduction in Early Learning Goals, but there has been a loss of a focus on play and an understanding of how children learn.'

She added, 'We're worried about the interpretation of the Tickell review, which has not been as considered as we would hope.'

The revised EYFS is 'not drawing from the tradition of good early years practice and is more a document for regulation, rather than an inspiring curriculum', said Ms Hayward.

'Good settings will continue to work effectively, but it won't support poor practitioners to work more effectively.'

Asked whether the revised EYFS would affect Pen Green's work leading good practice and the development of the early years teaching centres, she said, 'I don't think the revised EYFS will support us in the way we would have hoped, but we will be promoting reflective practice in the teaching centres.'

Ms Hayward also said that the revised EYFS will not help to narrow the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, because it is more about 'reporting' to parents than engaging with them, while keeping parents 'informed' of a child's progress is not enough.

'Our philosophy involves sharing knowledge about the child in ongoing dialogue about learning with the family, so that children's learning can be supported effectively.'

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