Interim evaluation

Press release, March 2022

Interim evaluation of Birth to 5 Matters shows strong cross sector support and shows the guidance has had a positive impact on professional development and confidence.

A survey conducted by the Early Years Coalition in late 2021 indicates that practitioners are finding the Birth to 5 Matters non-statutory guidance helpful to support implementation of the revised EYFS.  Practitioners reported that the guidance had a positive impact on staff professional development, increasing staff confidence in their professional judgement, and impacting positively on assessment, curriculum and learning and outcomes. It was also having some impact on diversity and inclusion and closing the “attainment gap”. 

Participants indicated that working with children with SEND was one of the main areas where further support was needed. With just under 500 responses, the survey offers an early broad indication from the sector, so the Coalition are considering undertaking a more in-depth evaluation when the guidance has had more time to bed in.

Practitioners also reported some positive impact from the EYFS reforms such as feeling able to use their professional judgement more, having reviewed the curriculum and moving away from use of tick lists in assessment.  Many respondents felt leaders and managers understood that less data now needed to be collected. However, nearly one in four disagreed, indicating there is still work to be done to change the culture around collecting evidence. 

There was a mixed picture over how the EYFS reforms had impacted practice which suggests that more research is needed to understand the impact of the EYFS reforms and whether they have supported quality improvement and impacted children’s learning and development.

Chair of the Early Year Coalition, Beatrice Merrick, said:

“One of the main principles behind Birth to 5 Matters is transparent, evidence-based approaches, so we wanted to get feedback from the sector and share it with the sector.  While it is early to see the full impact of the guidance, and no doubt the pressures of the pandemic impacted on the survey response rate, these early results are encouraging while suggesting a number of areas where more support is needed.  The sector has done extraordinarily well to implement the changes in the midst of a pandemic.  We would encourage government also to seek evidence that its reforms are having the intended impact, as the survey had mixed messages, with more progress towards some policy goals than others.”

Notes to editors

The Birth to 5 Matters non-statutory guidance is produced by the Early Years Coalition, a group of 16 major early years organisations, and aims to support practitioners as they implement the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage. 

The coalition members are

  • British Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA)
  • Early Education
  • Early Childhood Forum (ECF)
  • Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network (ECSDN)
  • Early Years Alliance
  • Froebel Trust
  • Keeping Early Years Unique (KEYU)
  • LGBTQIA Early Years
  • Montessori St Nicholas
  • National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA)
  • National Education Union (NEU)
  • Sector Endorsed Foundation Degrees in the Early Years (SEFDEY)
  • Sightlines Initiative
  • Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship
  • TACTYC: the Association for Professional Development in the Early Years

The initiative has funding from the coalition partners and from Cosy Fund.