EYFS: Early years settings get to grips with changes to practice and planning

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Thinking up imaginative ways to use their indoor space to develop children's physical development and renewed thinking about child-initiated learning are just some of the ways nurseries have been preparing for the new EYFS.

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At the Thomas Coram Centre in Camden, one of the early years settings involved in piloting the revised framework, staff and parents were able to give their input to fine-tune the Development Matters guidance.

Bernadette Duffy, head of the centre, said Thomas Coram had 'a bit of a head start' because she was a member of the advisory group for the revised EYFS.

'Staff here were already thinking about it. They really enjoyed using the old EYFS and wanted to see how things had developed, and were excited about how we could use the latest research to promote children's development.'

Some staff were involved in discussion groups with parents, and also separately, in meetings with officials from the Department for Education.

Ms Duffy said, 'The DfE were trying to get a sense of how the revised EYFS could best support children, both from parents' perspective and from a key worker point of view.

'For the two-year-old check, it was about asking parents, "How could practitioners talk to you about your child in a way that would be helpful?"'

The nursery has 'a very broad range of parents', with 20 per cent of children coming to the centre via local authority referrals, as well as children with special educational needs and disabilities, and also some looked-after children.

Staff were also able to share their views on developing the revised Development Matters, (which was produced by Helen Moylett and Nancy Stewart at Early Education).

Ms Duffy said, 'All the staff got to look at the draft Development Matters. The previous EYFS Development Matters was good, but this one is clearer. Some things had overlapped in the previous document and it was confusing for busy practitioners. The revised EYFS is stronger. The focus on children's development is very clear, and description of typical pattern of development and key milestones for children's early language development very helpful for staff. The move to Prime and Specific areas was welcomed by staff working with the youngest children.

'There were lots of opportunities to feed in. What we were most excited about was the strong emphasis on the characteristics of learning, not just what children learn, but how children learn and what works for children. It is about looking at how we are able to support play and exploration and really thinking about how this is helping children to learn.'

Thinking about the characteristics of effective learning has led to changes in the centre's planning, giving practitioners the opportunity to really think about how they are going to extend children's own ideas. With this in mind, the centre recently worked with Anna Craft, Professor of Education at the Open University and Exeter University and her colleagues Dr Alice Paige-Smith and Linda McConnon on a research project 'Creativity and Play'.

The project looked at how practitioners can support child-initiated play and promote creativity through play.

Ms Duffy is part of the co-production group at the DfE and was also able to feedback on the revised learning and development and safeguarding and welfare requirements.

Summing up her thoughts on the revised EYFS, Ms Duffy said, 'Reassuringly there are a lot of things that are the same, especially the principles and themes, but it's taken us on to the next stage, and puts into practice new ideas about how to support learning and development and what we have learnt from using the previous EYFS.'


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