Making the EYFS 2021 work for you!
The revised framework for the EYFS 2021 is loaded with opportunities, it provides the scope for you to redesign your curriculum, enhance your practice and (hopefully!) reduce workload. However, understandably in these uncertain times, it has left many practitioners (teachers, nursery staff and those in the private sector) worried and feeling overwhelmed.
I hope this post can help in how I am approaching the new curriculum and point you in the direction in some of my resources which will help you on your own journey!
The first issue that seems to have everyone spinning is which document do I use?
The point to remember is that only the ELGs (Early Learning Goals) at the end of the Reception Year are statutory, how you choose to ensure children make good progress towards these areas and achieve a Good Level of Development is up to you… So the simple answer is… it’s totally up to you! You are the expert in your classroom or setting, you know your children, your cohorts, your families, your working style and your staff. Use the non statutory document that suits you best. I have read both indepth and feel that there are pros and cons to both, however I have opted to use the Development Matters as my “base” document. This being said, I think that the new EYFS has provided opportunities for us to reshape our own curriculum and learning goals (aligned with the ELG) and you will notice that many of my resources do this to improve the offering we make for our children.
Creating a curriculum
There is much buzz around creating a new curriculum… many of you are super excited (like me!) to be able to revamp, rejig and reclaim the curriculum offer, but lots of you are worried, particularly from a workload perspective! I get it- it seems like we have had two pieces of non statutory guidance a new statutory framework and ELGs and not a lot else! It can be daunting.
Bear in mind that your curriculum isn’t just down to the planning out of what learning takes place, it is everything you do in your setting, including visits, outdoor learning, subject specialists (music, physical development, artists), pedagogy, etc. The planning for learning aspect of this is just a small part of a much wider picture and most of it isn’t going to change. You are still going to be embracing outdoor learning, encouraging specialist teaching, developing a sound pedagogy, following the children’s interests and valuing children’s play, but some of how you interact, record, plan and teach may alter to meet the new requirements. What I am trying to say is DO NOT PANIC!
If you are working on developing a curriculum, or revamping what you have then take a look at my blog- Early Years Curriculum, where you will find lots of support and practical tips.
Planning for Progression in the EYFS 2021
For the new EYFS 2021, there has been lots of talk surrounding the use of progression grids, some settings have broken down every key skill and created progression maps which show all the smaller steps to get there, others have opted to not document any progression grids at all.
I decided to look at each of the ELGs individually and decide what key skills were needed for each. Initially I undertook the process for Reception but also then looked at what the key skills to achieve GLD were for nursery too (3 & 4 year olds).
It was from here I knew that many teachers and support staff (particularly those new to EYFS or not yet feeling confident in the new framework) may need additional information to help with interactions and bringing learning forward to ensure progression. I therefore created progression grids for each of the ELGs. These are available for both nursery (3 & 4 year olds) and Reception and marry up the steps in learning to achieve the ELG, providing progressive building blocks for learning. I opted to also show how these steps linked with the Year 1 National Curriculum and provide basic provision ideas to support.
Nursery/ Preschool (3 & 4 year olds)
I still use these grids when creating resources such as Long Term Planning, Medium Term Planning and Planning Support Banks for themes and stories. These grids are helpful to ensure breadth, depth and coverage as you map out learning over the course of a year. These grids have also been updated to include Skill Development Grids for scissor use, pencil grip, imaginative play development and artistic skills development. I know many of you no longer use long term plans, however I think there is a place for them to help you to ensure that learning is progressive and that you are getting good coverage over the year. But as always, it depends on your approach #youdoyou and the expectations of your school/ setting.
I believe the use of enquiry questions to lead a curriculum in Early Years (and beyond!) allows for learning to take numerous directions, be child led and linked to interests but also support us to ensure we were providing a good breadth of knowledge, skills and experiences.
As we know, the learning of knowledge and skills through varied experiences is what underpins all aspects of our curriculum and in their 2022 document “The EYFS in Schools”, Ofsted have made it clear that by progress they “mean that children know more, remember more and are able to do more of what was intended in the curriculum” and that they “will want to see that the curriculum on offer sequences the knowledge that children need”. Of course we know that curriculum is more than just knowledge it is how we ensure children have the variety of experiences that enable them to build both knowledge and skills. I therefore created these visual progression posters which can help practitioners see how the knowledge and skills build upon each other to build towards the curriculum goals.
As always, the main message is… #youdoyou