Early years sector raises concerns about revised EYFS amid a broad welcome

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The revised Early Years Foundation Stage has received a broadly positive response from the early years sector, although some reservations have been raised over the requirement for progress checks on two-year-olds.

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Early years organisations and unions welcomed the revised framework, but voiced reservations over the progress checks, which they said could create unnecessary panic among parents.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said, 'While we welcome the introduction of the progress checks, the Government must take note of parental concerns about these checks. A recent Alliance survey of 2,000 mothers and mothers-to-be found that most are worried the progress check could result in a possible misdiagnosis of their child, given natural fluctuations in children's development at this age.'

Teachers' union Voice also warned that the progress checks would need to be used sensitively and appropriately as well as to take into account differences in children's rates of development.

Another concern is the ambiguity in some areas of the revised framework, which were said to need further clarification.

Julie Mountain, director of outdoor play consultancy Play Learning Life, said, 'Every practitioner will have a different interpretation of what constitutes "unsafe" weather and unfortunately the inclusion of this word, especially after many of us lobbied so hard to have it removed, means children will still be prevented from experiencing outdoor play in all weathers.'

Ensuring practitioners have the right training to deliver the revised framework was another concern of the sector.

Virginia Beardshaw, chief executive of speech and communication charity I CAN, said, 'Practitioners need skills, knowledge and training to deliver the EYFS with its increased focus on developing communication in settings and evaluating and assessing the communication development of the children. This emphasis on training cannot be underestimated.'

Her view was echoed by June O'Sullivan, chief executive of London Early Years Foundation, who said, 'We now need to bring together key reviews such as Nutbrown to ensure we have the right type of training and qualifications to support the revised EYFS.'

The National Childminding Association said the Government had missed opportunities with the revised framework by failing to include requirements for individual childminders to pass relevant courses before being allowed to register.

Liz Bayram, the NCMA's joint chief executive, said, 'We would have been keen to see the revised framework include a requirement for individuals registering as a childminder, to have not only attended but passed a relevant introductory course (as currently required in Wales). NCMA would also like to have seen all practitioners be required to pass a mandatory, pre-registration child protection course too.'

The Government has also come under fire from early years providers who are unhappy about having to print their own copies of the revised EYFS framework.

Penny Webb, who runs childminding service Penny's Place in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, said that after less than 24 hours' use the copy she printed is 'dog eared and the pages are out of order.'

To meet the needs of nurseries for printed materials, the National Day Nurseries Association said it would be making professionally printed and bound copies of the revised EYFS framework and Development Matters available to nurseries at a cost of £9.50.

Chief executive Purnima Tanuku said, 'NDNA understands that many nurseries prefer to have printed copies of important documents so that these can be accessed and shared easily by staff.

'We hope nurseries will find this a useful recourse during this period of change in the sector and we are pleased to be able to offer this support.'

Nurseries can order printed copies from www.ndna.org.uk/eyfs.

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