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Government responds to EYFS consultation

By Rachel Lawlerchildren playing Jenga EYFS Reforms

The government has published its response to the EYFS Reforms consultation.

The consultation received a total of 2,452 responses to the consultation, including 69 responses from practitioners working in the PVI early years sector and 41 childminders.

48 early years sector representative bodies, including the Alliance, also submitted a response to the proposed changes.

Educational programmes
Following the consultation, the DfE said that it would make a number of changes to the reformed education programmes including:

  • PSED will include additional information on self-care and healthy eating.
  • Physical Development will be strengthened to include a greater focus on development from birth to reception and on the link between gross and fine motor skills.
  • Literacy will include a stronger emphasis on pre-reception literacy learning, and the link between language comprehension and later reading and writing.
  • Mathematics will include a greater detail on the importance of shapes, spatial reasoning and measure as part of early maths learning, and how children can foster a love of maths.
  • Understanding the World will include wider experiences for children.
  • Expressive Arts and Design will include a wider variety of ways children can develop their creative skills.

The Communication and language programme will remain as originally proposed.

Early Learning Goals
The proposed changes to the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) will also go ahead, largely as planned, with the following changes made:

  • Communication and Language will include focus on adult-child interactions, and the word ‘accurate’ has been removed from the Speaking ELG when referring to tenses.
  • Mathematics will include greater clarity to counting and comparing quantities in the Numerical Patterns ELG. Government will proceed with its focus on number and numerical patterns within the mathematics ELGs as the strongest predictor for later maths outcomes. This also reflects government’s continued commitment to strengthen the teaching of early numeracy so that all children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are able to start year 1 with a strong and confident foundation in number. Practitioners and teachers will still be required to teach children about shape, space and measures, as part of a well-rounded curriculum, as set out in the revised mathematics educational programme.
  • Understanding the World will include a change in relation to the Past and Present ELG to further clarify the expectation of children understanding the concept of ‘past’.
  • Expressive Arts and Design will include reference to a greater variety of use of tools, materials and techniques that children will need to demonstrate for the Creating with Materials ELG.

The ELGs for Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Physical Development; and Literacy will remain as proposed.

EYFSP moderation
The proposal to remove the statutory duty for local authorities to moderate the EYFSP in 25% of schools each year will go ahead.

Schools will still be required to submit EYFSP data to their local authority and this will still be collected nationally.

Exceeding judgement
The government will proceed with plans to remove the “exceeding” judgement criteria from the EYFSP and says that this will “free up teachers’ time”.

Teachers will be expected to continue to identify and stretch more able children.

Oral health
A need to include oral health alongside the requirement to “promote the good health of children” will be added to the EYFS framework.

Individual settings and schools will need to determine how to meet this requirement and practitioners will not be required to assess this.

Protected characteristics
The DfE says that it will work with sector experts to review the EYFSP Handbook and ensure that it is clear on how practitioners should complete the Profile for children with SEND, EAL and who are summer-born, including signposting to additional advice and support where appropriate.

September 2020
The DfE says that its EYFS Reforms will “provide a strong basis to support children who may have missed critical months of early education” and will therefore be proceeding with plans to offer schools the opportunity to adopt the reforms from September 2020 onwards.

The reforms will be implemented nationally from September 2021 onwards as planned.

Alliance response
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “We’re incredibly disappointed by the DFE’s response to the EYFS consultation released today. At every stage of the process, well-informed and constructive contributions were submitted from a variety of experts in early years development and they have almost entirely been ignored by the government.

"The government have been repeatedly warned about the risks of shifting towards a narrow and overly formal approach to early years practice. However, this response continues to ignore the widely acknowledged fact that a child’s development is best served from a broad, well-rounded and holistic approach to early years education, not by a rigid framework which restricts the positive impact childminders, nurseries and pre-schools can have on a child's development.

"The government's stance on the Early Learning Goals and the early years foundation stage profile continues to be deeply problematic. Indeed, the language used in the government response is particularly revealing as to how much influence the consultation responses have had on their policy decisions. Particularly as far as the EYFSP is concerned, where the common view was that the statutory moderation by local authorities should be retained, yet the government has chosen to remove it anyway. 

"This raises a serious question as to why have a consultation process at all, if you’re not willing to listen to the views of the sector and the experts within it? 

"We urge the government to re-examine the consultation submissions, listen to the expert and majority views and work with the sector to deliver EYFS reforms which truly enhance the learning and development of our young children, not constrain it."

Find out more
Changes to the EYFS 2021
Read the government's response in full