Kate Pounder is the Early Years Lead at Caldicotes Primary Academy in Thorntree, Middlesbrough, an early adopter school.
The implementation of the new reforms has brought about much consideration across the Early Years sector. With debate, discussion and some myths surrounding curriculum maps, assessment checklists and more, the EYFS reforms have led practitioners to question how and what they teach in the early years sector.
Practitioners should now take this opportunity to step back and consider what is working well in their setting, preserve it and build on this good practice. Having quality dialogue with your team dedicated to reflecting on and self-evaluating your current practice will enable you to identify what is working well. Only when this is done, can you prepare a credible plan to meet the new requirements and their aims. What is most important to remember is that as early years professionals, we all went into education for the same reason; to provide the best possible start to each and every child’s learning journey.
This will be achieved through a carefully designed curriculum that provides children with the foundational knowledge and understanding they will need in key stage one and the rest of their learning journey. The new Development Matters has been written as a guideline to key milestones in a child’s early life.. It is there to offer guidance on the sorts of environments, resources, support and teaching we could provide children to make progress at different stages within the Early Years. That is why it is titled ‘Curriculum Guidance.’
Dr Julian Grenier, the lead author of the new Development Matters, writes himself about the importance of three key elements; care, pedagogy and curriculum. That is why these aspects feature in the revised Development Matters within ‘key features of effective practice.’
So when we consider making changes to our provision, in response to changes within the EYFS framework 2021, we should focus on those areas that make the biggest difference; high-quality care, pedagogy and curriculum.
What is not necessary is worrying about devising curriculum maps, collecting masses of data, and spending unnecessary time on excessive assessment. Most children, surrounded by a high-quality enabling environment and taught a high-quality curriculum, accompanied with loving care and effective pedagogy will make good progress in all areas of their development.
So the key message here is not to panic! Think about a plan for this academic year with realistic milestones. Don’t plan to change everything for at once or indeed plan to change everything at all. Build on your current practice and continue to maintain that professional dialogue with your team. Now is the time to embrace the changes set before us, move away from the rigid predecessor document of Development Matters and move towards a more current and appropriate curriculum, drawing on guidance. A curriculum that takes into consideration children’s interests and enables them to enjoy, practise, repeat and become secure in their skills and knowledge.