The government’s 10-year strategy for childcare, Choice for parents, the best start for children, promised to establish a single coherent development and learning framework for all young children from birth to the age of five. The DfES is currently consulting on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which provides that framework.
This consultation* and the draft document on which it is based are relevant to SENCOs in early years settings and primary schools because EYFS has been designed to deliver improved outcomes for all children, across every area of learning and development, and to help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and others. For SENCOs the most relevant sections of the draft document are those on progression through the six areas of learning and development and meeting the welfare requirements.
This document sets out a clear and universal set of requirements for all early years providers. It also contains guidance and good practice, seeking out how providers might implement the requirements. EYFS has an important role to play in helping children achieve all five of the Every Child Matters outcomes: enabling the youngest children to stay safe, be healthy, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic wellbeing in the future.
The statutory EYFS document The statutory EYFS document covers what providers must do in order to deliver early years provision, and gives practical guidance about how they should fulfil their obligations. Covering both learning and development and welfare requirements, it describes how practitioners are expected to plan for effective care and education of children in the diverse early years sector.
EYFS provides a flexible framework, fostering all children’s development from birth, and ensuring that practitioners use observational assessment systematically to plan for individual children’s progression at a pace that is right for them.
Progression through the Areas of Learning and Development This section covers both the learning and development requirements that must be followed by all settings and also more detailed guidance about how they should be delivered, culminating in the early learning goals which most children are able to reach by the end of EYFS. The guidance sets out practical ways for practitioners to enable all children to participate, enjoy and achieve in a rich, play-based curriculum, indoors and outdoors, with a planned balance of adult-led and child-initiated activity. The section is arranged around four subsections: Development matters, which identifies the relevant skills, understanding, attitudes, characteristics and knowledge that children will have and develop during EYFS in order to reach the early learning goals at the end of the stage. Look, listen and note, which alerts practitioners to important things to look for in observational assessment, and gives guidance in using that systematic observation to plan for individual children’s next steps. Effective practice, which identifies the steps that practitioners should be taking in each Area of Learning and Development to consolidate and develop children’s development and learning.
Planning and resourcing, which highlights good practice to support practitioners’ planning and organisation of the learning environment.
Using these headings, learning and development materials describe children’s progression from birth to the age of five across each of six Areas of Learning and Development. These materials are not intended to be prescriptive or exhaustive – different children will do different things – nor should they be used as checklists. All six areas are an interdependent part of each child’s development as a healthy child, a strong child, a skilful communicator and a competent learner, and should be used together to provide appropriate provision for each child. They are:
- personal, social and emotional development
- communication, language and literacy
- problem solving, reasoning and numeracy
- knowledge and understanding of the world
- physical development
- creative development.
There is also an outline of the legal framework through which individual children may, in exceptional circumstances, be exempted from EYFS.
Meeting the welfare requirements
Welfare requirement grids set out the requirements that providers must meet in order to ensure that their setting is organised to meet the needs of children. The areas covered by the welfare requirements are:
- safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare
- suitable people
- suitable premises, environment and equipment
For each of these areas, the EYFS welfare grids set out the requirements that providers must meet, and additional good practice which providers should have regard to.
The accompanying CD-Rom will provide supporting resources, in the form of video material of effective practice, useful documents and resources, relevant research reports and websites. The CD-Rom will include the following:
- Planning for individual children – comprehensive links between the different developmental stages from birth to the age of five. These will be accessible either by following an interest in a particular stage or in an area of learning and development.
Information on key themes, such as:
- observation and assessment
- inclusive practice
- parents as partners
- outdoor learning
- effective transitions
- creativity/critical thinking
- key workers and secure attachment
- child development
- multi-agency working.
*The Early Years Foundation Stage – consultation on a single quality framework for services to children from birth to five Available online at www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/