Riverside Training Spalding


6th May 2020

The vast majority of Early Years practitioners have expressed support for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in its existing form, despite Government plans to make a number of changes to the framework.

The overwhelming viewpoint has been revealed in a new online survey 'Mapping the landscape: practitioners views on the Early Years Foundation Stage'.

The survey, carried out by a coalition of Early Years organisations, found that more than 80% of practitioners felt that children's development was well supported or very well supported across the prime areas of development -personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language - by the current EYFS.

It also found that 60% of those who filled in the survey judged that children's development was well or very well supported by the specific areas of learning - maths, literacy, understanding the world and expressive arts and design. 

The results reinforces many of the findings of a recent literature review, also commissioned by the coalition, including the need to keep shape, space and measure central to maths; the importance of a stronger focus on technology; and that communication and language are of primary importance.

The survey which had 3,000 responses from Early Years practitioners - the majority (72%) of whom have worked in the sector for more than 10 years - was undertaken in response to the Government review of the EYFS.

The Department for Education is planning to roll out controversial reforms to EYFS on a national scale which it says will close the gap for disadvantaged children, strengthen the development of communication, language and literacy skills and reduce practitioners' workload.

But the survey found practitioners are strongly supportive of the EYFS in its current form, with Communication and Language receiving the highest approval rating of the areas of learning.

The core message is neatly summed up by one response from a nursery manager with more than 10 years' experience: "EYFS doesn't need to be changed. What must be enhanced are practitioner skills, training and funding available to settings to increase salaries and attract higher calibre teachers."

The lack of resources was a recurring message in relation to staff time to spend supporting children and families.

The unnecessary workload generated by excessive paperwork was frequently mentioned.

Comments suggested that the need for paperwork comes from settings' interpretations of Ofsted expectations, for example, and not from the requirements of the EYFS - demonstrating that changes to the EYFS itself will not change workload pressures.

Practitioners gave a clear message that to close the gap practitioners needed time to work with and support parents and carers in relation to the home learning environment. 

Respondents stressed the importance of funding wider Early Years services and difficulties helping families access the additional support they might need from related services such as speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, mental health services, SEND specialist support, children's centres and health visitors.

Practitioners also expressed the view that a better trained workforce would make more difference to children's outcomes than changes to the EYFS framework - and that needed to be accompanied by improving pay and conditions.

Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive of Early Education, said: "We hope that ministers will listen to what Early Years practitioners are telling them, and not devote further resources to trying to fix something that isn’t broken. 

"The messages are really clear that tinkering with the EYFS Statutory Framework isn’t going to achieve what ministers hope for.

"The sector would welcome the opportunity for dialogue with ministers and some fresh thinking about what will really make a difference to children’s future life chances."

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