As guidance from the sector, by the sector, the Early Years Coalition intends for Birth to 5 Matters to listen and respond to what practitioners tell us they want and need.
We began by asking practitioners to tell us what they wanted in an online survey which closed on 2 November, and were pleased to gather the thoughts of over 1600 respondents. The response helped us to begin to shape the guidance to meet the needs of the sector.
There were endorsements for building on Development Matters (2012), updated and improved to reflect current evidence and practice expertise. It also pointed out some of the most difficult areas to resolve, on which we are continuing to consult.
You can read a detailed breakdown of the questions and responses (PDF).
Here is what we heard from the survey, and how we are responding:
- The EYFS Principles should provide the structure for the guidance.
We drafted the expanded guidance under the principles of A Unique Child, Positive Relationships, Enabling Environments, and Learning and Development, to support understanding of important elements of early years pedagogy.
- More guidance is needed on play and the Characteristics of Effective Learning.
We developed expanded sections on both play and the Characteristics of Effective Learning, and on the adult role in both. We are also developing examples of the CoEL in action, to be woven through the grids for areas of learning and development.
- Illustrating typical developmental progression is helpful, especially for new or less qualified practitioners, but it should not be prescriptive.
We are providing pathways for all the areas of development and learning, while all the guidance emphasises that these are examples of overall progression, while individual children will follow their own directions and rates.
- The guidance should support observation, assessment and planning without being used as a checklist.
We have developed expanded guidance on formative assessment, and emphasise that learning is complex and different for each child so a checklist approach is wrong. The format may encourage thinking about what the child is learning, rather than matching to a statement or band.
- The guidance should support periodic assessment of progress with best-fit bands.
We have maintained bands which can be used for periodic summative assessment, loosely linking to typical ages in a best-fit approach. Guidance on best-fit judgements and using the information will be available.
- Additional resources would be used for CPD.
We are planning for a wide range of additional resources and references to be available on our website, linked from an online version of the guidance.
- More information/support is needed on SEND and EAL.
We will have input from our specialist Working Group for SEND on supplying online guidance and resources; have new guidance on families and communities and will provide further online guidance on EAL.
- More emphasis should be placed on wellbeing.
We have highlighted emotional and physical wellbeing throughout, and reviews by Working Groups are ensuring this is woven through all areas of guidance.
- Keep the existing strands within the Areas of Learning and Development.
We retained the strands, including Space, Shape and Measure and Technology; where these are different from revised ELGs (2021), the links have been identified.
- Age/stage identification is helpful, but many are concerned about prescriptive age expectations.
We are continuing to consult on a revised format for presenting developmental trajectory alongside typical ages, to support understanding of overall progress while putting less emphasis on links to ages.
- There is a need to update and improve descriptors in the Areas of Learning and Development.
We have appointed specialist Working Groups of practitioners and academic experts, who are reviewing and updating all the descriptors.
- Don’t change too much.
We are maintaining the basic format of Unique Child, and adult role under Positive Relationships and Enabling Environments; we are making changes only where we have research or practice evidence that it is an improvement.