Birth to 5 Matters provides comprehensive guidance, drawing on previous guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which has been updated in order to reflect recent research, to meet the needs of practitioners, to respond to current issues in society, to meet the needs of children today and to lay a strong foundation for their futures.

The purpose of the guidance includes reaffirming core principles which recognise:

  • the child at the centre of practice
  • the child’s connections within family, communities, cultures and the natural world
  • the need to consider the whole child: physical, social and emotional wellbeing, health, and learning
  • the child’s rights as a member of society under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), including:
    • Non-discrimination (article 2)
    • Best interest of the child (article 3)
    • Goals of education (article 29)
    • Right to be heard (article 12)
    • Right to play (article 31)
    • Right to freedom of expression (article 13)
    • Right to freedom of thought, belief and religion (article 14)
    • Right for children with a disability to live a full and decent life (article 23)
    • Right to learn and use the language, customs and religion of their family (article 30)
  • the sector’s responsibilities under the United Nations Sustainability Goals and UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development
  • the statutory requirements of the SEND Code of Practice.

Birth to 5 Matters will support practitioners in all their statutory responsibilities within the EYFS areas of learning and development and educational programmes, and to help children make progress toward the Early Learning Goals (ELGs).

In some cases, the organisation of strands does not match the structure of the ELGs, where a more logical arrangement aligning with child development has been used. The “Characteristics of Effective Learning” does not include the word “teaching” because these refer to behaviours and dispositions of the child, not the adult. We have rephrased “Creating and thinking critically” to “Thinking creatively and critically” to place a stronger emphasis on the thinking skills that are central to the creative process. Support toward all ELG content is included in the guidance. 

A note on terminology used in Birth to 5 Matters

• Children refers to all babies, toddlers, and young children from birth to the end of the EYFS, up to 71 months.
• Parents refers to all carers of children in the EYFS.
• Setting refers to all types of provision delivering the EYFS.

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