The History of the EYFS

The History of the EYFS

The Early Years curriculum has gone through many changes over recent years. As the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has again gone through a revision we thought that it would be an idea to take you through the history of the curriculum as it is today and the amendments that have been made to come into effect on the 3rd April 2017.

Early Years Curriculum across the UK

This article focuses on the Early Years Curricula in England, as the other 3 countries in the United Kingdom all have individual curricula different from the Early Years Foundation Stage, as follows:

Northern Ireland Foundation Stage (4 to 6 years)
Scotland Curriculum for Excellence
Wales Foundation Phase

Early Years Curriculum changes

The Early Years curriculum in England has gone through many changes and reviews over the years. If we go back to 2000 we find ourselves at the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage that comes from the National Childcare Strategy of 1998. This strategy was the vision of the Labour Government. The National Childcare Strategy was designed to break down the division between ‘Care’ and ‘Education’ for children and families. The strategy was set out in an historic Green Paper entitled ‘Meeting the Childcare Challenge’; the aim of the Green Paper was to provide high-quality, affordable childcare for children aged from 0 to 14 years of age. This was aimed at children in every neighbourhood, including formal childcare and support for more informal arrangements by:

  • Raising the quality of care
  • Making childcare more affordable
  • Making childcare more accessible by increasing places and improving information.

Curriculum Guidance for Foundation Stage

The Curriculum Guidance for Foundation Stage (QCA/DfEE 2000) was aimed at children aged between 3 years and 5 years old and was introduced in September 2000. The Foundation Stage set out 6 areas of learning which form the basis of the curriculum. These areas of learning are as follows:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication, Language and Literacy Development
  • Mathematics Development
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World
  • Physical Development
  • Creative Development.

Each of these areas had a related set of Early Learning Goals which were designed to support the Early Years Practitioners to fully meet the vast needs of children, so that most will achieve and, where appropriate, exceed the early learning goals by the end of the Foundation Stage. Most Nurseries and Preschools used the Stepping Stones to track and record the child’s development towards the Early Learning Goals.

In 2002, The Labour Government passed the Education Act 2002, which extended the National Curriculum to include the Foundation Stage. It also introduced the Foundation Stage profile which replaced other baseline assessment schemes. The Foundation Stage consisted of 13 summary scales covering the 6 areas of learning. Within the act the Foundation Stage was defined as the time between the child’s third birthday and the time they first receive primary education, other than nursery education.

At this stage in time, there was still no guidance for children under the age of 3 years old. The Department for Education and Skills developed the Birth to Three Matters Framework in 2002 in order to try to address this imbalance. The stated aim of the Framework was:

‘to provide support, information, guidance and challenge for all those with
responsibility for the care and education of babies and
children from birth to three years. ‘

(Birth to Three Matters, DfES 2002)

Birth to Three Matters

The Birth to Three Matters Framework was divided into 4 aspects as follows:

  • A Strong Child
  • A Skilful Communicator
  • A Competent Learner
  • A Healthy Child.

As you can see from the 2 different sets of learning areas, they are very different and don’t match, this complicates things for early years staff who were caring for children covering 0 – 5 years old. It was complicated because staff would have to learn 2 different sets of paperwork and documents in order to cover the children’s development throughout their early years.

National Standards for the Under 8s

Not only did early years staff at this point in time have to grapple with 2 early years curricula and frameworks, they also had to have regard for the National Standards for Under 8s. There were several versions of this document depending on which type of care providers were providing for children. A few examples are:

Red Book Full Day Care
Blue Book Childminding
Green Book Crèches
Purple Book Sessional Day Care
Orange Book Out of School Care.

The National Standards represented a baseline that no provider could fall below. It detailed 14 National Standards, each describing a particular quality outcome, supported by a set of criteria as to how this standard could be achieved.

Around this point in time, there were several pieces of research that had an impact on early years as well as the aftermath of the death of Victoria Climbié and the advent of the Every Child Matters Green paper. We will look at how the Every Child Matters affected the curricula shortly, but first let’s discuss The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) and Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years (REPEY).

EPPE – The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education

EPPE was the first longitudinal study of a national sample of young children’s development (intellectual and social/behavioural) between the ages of 3 and 7 years old in Europe. The research project investigated a range of influences on children’s development, these included home learning environment, parental employment and the quality of the child’s preschool setting. These aims were to measure the effectiveness of preschool on a wide range of children of various backgrounds and to then identify which characteristics of preschools made them effective. The research criteria for effectiveness included identifying the benefits of attending different types of preschools and how quickly these fade over time. The report concluded that the quality was higher where settings integrated care and education aspects, and that the benefits remained deep into Key Stage 1 at school.

REPEY – Researching the Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years

REPEY was commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills in 2002 and was based on the dataset of EPPE. It was set up in particular to study the pedagogical (the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept) strategies or instructional techniques which encourage and enable learning to take place. This included the community and home learning environment as well as that of the setting’s learning environment. The research found that there were particular concerns around children’s transitions, and that if a setting had continuity of learning between the setting and the home the cognitive outcomes of the child were far better than in situations where this was not the case.

Both EPPE and REPEY have a clear place within the modern day Early Years Foundation Stage as we will explore shortly.

Around the same time as these 2 pieces of research were being conducted and published, there was another channel leading us towards the modern day EYFS; this of course is the sad and untimely death of 8 year old, Victoria Climbié. Following on from her death, Lord Laming published his inquiry into the events that led up to Victoria’s death and he laid out changes that should be made.

Every Child Matters

The Labour Government at the time agreed with his recommendations and formulated the Every Child Matters framework. The document itself brought a raft of changes to the whole of the child sector of England and Wales, as well as 5 outcomes for children:

  • Staying Safe,
  • Being Healthy,
  • Enjoying and Achieving,
  • Economic Well-being,
  • Make a Positive Contribution.

These 5 outcomes are often remembered by the acronym SHEEP (Safe, Healthy, Enjoying, Economic, Positive). The heart of the Every Child Matters Framework is the universal child, and places the child at the centre of decisions and working towards ensuring that the children can maximise their potential and are protected.

In 2006, the Government reformed early years regulation and inspection arrangements. It introduced the Early Years Foundation Stage into the statute books, to be brought in to effect in 2008.

The Early Years Foundation Stage

When the Early Years Foundation Stage was released and became statutory in September 2008, it was a groundbreaking document and curriculum which for the first time covered all early years’ settings from 0 to 5 years of age. It had taken the best parts of the Foundation Stage and the Birth to Three Matters.

On release the EYFS pack contained:

  • Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • Poster
  • Principles into Practice cards
  • CD ROM.

The Statutory Framework document brought together all of the requirements of the National Day Care Standards by renaming them the Welfare Requirements. While the Principles into Practice Cards, Poster and CD ROM were all adapted from the concept in the Birth to Three Matters Framework. These documents were really helpful to early years’ staff to familiarise themselves with the new document. The Principles into Practice cards also made reference to the Every Child Matters outcomes, by highlighting which outcome the aspect of the curriculum met. We have included them on our Legislation page for guidance only as they may no longer meet the requirements of the EYFS.

Like the Foundation Stage before it, The Early Years Foundation Stage has kept the Early Learning Goals, to aim to achieve by the end of the Foundation Stage (Reception Class). The Practice Guidance had a really useful grid at the back of the document to help practitioners to aid children to maximise their potential and reach their goals.

So what are the influences and theories that have inspired this new curriculum?

We have looked at early years’ theorists below
who have had an impact on
the Early Years Foundation Stage
and in bold have highlighted where their
key belief is an
important part of the EYFS.

Friedrich Frobel was a childcare theorist who was hundreds of years ahead of his time. Frobel suggested that the early years are the most important time in a child’s life. He also recognised the importance of educational toys and activities. He also believed that the role of the adult is to observe the children, and he understood the support children need in the early years is different to the support that they need in later years .

Charlotte Mason is famous for regarding education as essential for all children regardless of their class. She equally believed that it was important to share information with the parents about their children’s educational needs. Mason believes that parents are a key important part of their child’s education.

Dr Maria Montessori’s method of caring for children is based on her theory of childcare and the work she did in asylums observing children. Montessori believes that children’s development depended on the adults around them and the environment that they are in. Modern day Montessori settings expect the adults to observe the children at all times, but they must not interfere with the child’s work.

Piaget is one of the most famous childhood theorists. He believed that there was a pattern in the way that children identified right from wrong. This made him curious about how children formulated their knowledge and understanding of the world. However some people have questioned Piaget and his theories because they are based on his own children with no consideration of social interaction, learning and context.

Vygotsky believes that learning is a social and contextual process. He is a believer that observations are more important than test scores, he believes that ‘teachers’ should be vigilant observers enabling them to better support children’s learning and development.

Susan Isaacs is a more modern day theorist who believes in more naturalistic observations. These observations should be conducted as the children learn through play without hindrance or interference from other people. According to Isaacs, children should be free to choose their activities, while the adult around them observes, supports and scaffolds the children’s learning.

Malaguzzi developed his pedagogical approach in the village of Reggio Emilia, Italy after World War II. Malaguzzi believed that children should be free to express themselves in as many ways as they can, including arts and crafts, drama, music etc.

Margaret Carr is best known for her work in developing learning stories. Carr believes that observations should be based on credit, whereby what the child can do and not what they can’t do is noted. She also believes that the observations should be part of a structure, in order for adults to make connections and assess where children are in their learning dispositions and/ or their attitude to learning.

Tina Bruce believes that children’s observations can be used to inform themes and the planning of the children. She also believes that adults should use observations as a variety of ‘lenses through which to tune into and understand the child’s development and learning (Bruce, 2005).

EPPE and REPEY have been reflected into the EYFS as follows:

  • The distinct combination of care and education
  • Key Person being statutory
  • One curriculum from 0 – 5 as opposed to the old system
  • One curriculum should improve cognitive development
  • ‘Sustained and Shared thinking’ incorporated into the Development Matters.

Changes to the EYFS over time

Since its introduction in 2008, the EYFS has gone through several changes to keep it up to date with current best practice and changes necessary to continue to safeguard and educate children. Education of children has been reviewed several times as well.

One such review was carried out by Dame Claire Tickell entitled Early Years: Foundations for life, health and learning, which was published on the 29th March 2011. The review was based on evidence gained from staff and adults working in the early years. Dame Claire found that the EYFS was a well-liked curriculum and that it was too early for settings to have an opt out of it, stating that the EYFS should remain mandatory. However, Dame Claire made several recommendations:

  • The 6 areas of learning should be replaced by 7 areas:
    • 3 Prime Areas:
      • Communication and Language Development
      • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
      • Physical Development.
    • 4 other areas:
      • Literacy
      • Mathematics
      • Expressive Arts and Design
      • Understanding the World.
  • The 69 Learning Goals should be reduced to 17.
  • A 2-Year check should be carried out by practitioners, to be included in the child’s red book.
  • The EYFS Profile to be amended to take into account the change in Learning Goals.
  • The EYFS Profile should be simpler to assess the child, and she suggested 3 scales:
    • Emerging
    • Expected
    • Exceeding.
  • A graduate led workforce should continue to be the aspiration of the Government.
  • Entry Qualifications to Early Years should be of a high standard consistent with the NNEB qualification.

EYFS 2008 to 2012 Version

The 2008 framework was updated in April 2012. The changes were based on the recommendations from Dame Claire Tickell as discussed above. This version of the EYFS was the first to be download only, the Government only updated the Statutory Guidance Framework document, and not the other supporting documents, however other agencies produced these as follows:

  • Early Education published Development Matters.
  • National Children’s Bureau published A Know How Guide: The EYFS Progress Check at Age 2.
  • 4Children published A Parent’s Guide to the EYFS.

The amendments made were designed to:

  • Reduce paperwork and bureaucracy
  • Strengthen partnerships between parents and practitioners
  • Focus on the 3 Prime Areas
  • Simplify assessment at age 5
  • Introduce early intervention.

The 2012 EYFS made the following amendments to the 2008 Framework:

  • A stronger emphasis in the framework on safeguarding children:
    • The Welfare Requirements became the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements
    • Included adult behaviour indicators
    • Policies should now include reference to cameras and mobile telephones
    • DBS Checks on managers are now providers’ responsibility not Ofsted’s.
  • Staff qualifications, training, support and skills was strengthened.
  • EYFS training for childminders MUST be completed before registering with Ofsted.
  • There was a clarification of the child: staff ratio exceptions.
  • Providers are now free to decide if a Risk Assessment needs to be recorded in writing or not.
  • As per the recommendations of Dame Claire, 6 areas of learning became 7.
  • 69 Early Learning Goals became 17, with a simplified assessment scale at the end of the stage.
  • The introduction of the Progress Check at age 2, to be shared with parents and included in the child’s red book.
  • The balance between adult and child led activities was clarified.
  • Clearer focus on the reasonable steps practitioners should take regarding English as an additional language.
  • Wrap around care now did not need to meet the framework in full.

The 2012 EYFS made a whole raft of changes to what was already a well-liked framework by the Early Years staff. The changes made were mainly based on the recommendations of Dame Claire Tickell, however the safeguarding changes were made in the aftermath of the ‘Little Ted’s’ Serious Case Review, in which Vanessa George was working at Little Ted’s Nursery in Plymouth and abusing the children in her care by taking indecent photographs of them and then sharing them. The Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements are designed to prevent this from happening again in the future.

Early Years Outcomes

In September 2013, the Department of Education released a non-statutory guidance entitled, Early Years Outcome., It was designed to support practitioners and inspectors in understanding child development throughout the early years. It is designed to be used by childminders, nurseries, preschool and other settings, as well as Ofsted, throughout the early years as a guide to make best fit judgements about a child’s development across the 7 areas of learning.

Early Years Outcomes shows a child’s typical development for their age but practitioners need to be aware and remember that all children develop at their own rate in their own time.

EYFS 2012 to 2014

The 2014 version of the EYFS was introduced and became statutory on the 1st September 2014. The revision came about following the Government’s response to the consultation on the regulation of Childcare. The idea of the revision is to capture new regulations and remove requirements which are stipulated in other statutory documents or that are now deemed as unnecessary.

The amendments included:

  • There was a lot of rewording of the document to include the phrase Childminding Agencies.
  • A summary page was added to the document for the first time.
  • The Progress Check had wording changed to include integrated working.
  • 3.13 of the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements was clarified further under section 35 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
  • Further clarification was made regarding disqualification of working with children.
  • 3.18 made further changes to include additional advice on staff taking appropriate training and development opportunities.
  • Providers should ensure that regular staff appraisals are carried out’ was removed.
  • Childminding training to be Local Authority approved requirement was removed.
  • Local Authority approved First Aid training requirement was removed.
  • Further clarification on Childminder Assistants being left in sole charge of children must hold a Paediatric First Aid qualification.
  • The operating hours were removed from the framework as were providers operating outside of 8am and 4pm.
  • Early Years Teacher Status was included to incorporate the new qualification.
  • 3.36 removed the wording except for children in Reception classes.
  • 3.38 changed wording to incorporate different legislation.
  • 3.40 added a new section, Before/After School care and holiday provision
  • 3.41 included wording to define ‘a young child’.
  • Removal of the requirement for settings to have and implement a behaviour management policy and procedures.
  • Removal of the requirement to have a named behaviour management practitioner in every setting.
  • Wording added, ‘providers are responsible for managing behaviour in a manageable way’.
  • 3.54 changed wording relating to overall floor space, age of children and fire safety.
  • 3.54 removed the requirement to have a health and safety policy.
  • 3.55 removed the requirement for a no smoking policy.
  • 3.55 changed the wording relating to smoking on the childcare premises.
  • 3.56 added wording for the settings to follow their legal responsibilities under The Equality Act 2010.
  • Removal of the requirement for provision for space for children who wish to relax, play quietly or sleep.
  • Risk assessment policy was removed.
  • The number of suggested toilets and wash basins were removed.
  • Providers need to be able to demonstrate how they manage risks, and not expose staff to unnecessary risk.
  • 3.65 removed the requirement for parent’s permission for children to partake in outings.
  • Changes to SENCO arrangements, ‘Maintained nursery schools must identify a member of staff to act as SENCO and other providers (in group provision) are expected to identify a SENCO’.

As you can see the 2014 framework made plenty of changes that built on and attempted to slimline what was already a well-liked and working well curriculum for children aged from 0 to 5 years.

This then brings us right up to date, or at least it would except for the fact that the Department of Education has released, on March the 3rd this year, a revised EYFS that comes into effect on April the 3rd 2017.

EYFS 2014 to 2017

During the Childcare Expo in London, the parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Early Years, Caroline Dinenage MP launched the long-awaited 2017 version of EYFS. We say long-awaited as we expected one of the changes to come into effect on the 1st September 2016, which now doesn’t become statutory until the 3rd April.

The main aims of the EYFS 2017 are to incorporate new Level 3 qualification requirements and First Aid regulations. On the same day the Early Years Workforce strategy was launched and the rule that Level 3 Early Years Educators must have English and Maths GCSEs at grade C or above.

The changes in brief are:

  • Changes to the Level 3 Requirements
  • All new staff into Early Years MUST have Emergency Paediatric First Aid
  • References to the Prevent Duty guidance added
  • Inclusion of identifying risks of FGM.

Let’s look at these in more detail:

Changes to the Level 3 Requirements

The Early Years Foundation Stage now states:

‘To count in the ratios at Level 3, staff holding an Early Years Educator
qualification must also have achieved a suitable Level 2 qualification in
English and Maths as defined by the Department for Education on the Early Years Qualifications List published on GOV.UK.’

This has removed the requirement for Early Years Educators to have a GCSE grade C or above in English and Maths.

All new staff into Early Years MUST have Emergency Paediatric First Aid

Section 3.25 of the Early Years Foundation Stage states:

‘All newly qualified entrants to the early years workforce who have
 completed a Level 2 and/or Level 3 qualification on or after 30 June 2016,
 must also have either a full PFA or an emergency PFA certificate within
three months of starting work in order to be included in the required
 staff: child ratios at Level 2 or Level 3 in an early years’ setting.’

This is expected to add an additional 15,000 qualified First Aiders to the Early Years Workforce. This is a massive improvement to the number of Paediatric First Aiders and a major step forward to ensuring the safety of children in early years’ settings. We believe that this is an excellent addition to the EYFS although we were expecting this to be the case from September.

A footnote to this requirement states that any newly qualified entrants who started work between the 30th June 2016 and 2nd April 2017 will have until 2nd July 2017 to achieve their First Aid qualification in order to be included in their setting’s staff ratios.

References to the Prevent Duty guidance added

For the first time the EYFS makes reference to the Prevent Duty. Section 3.7 says that providers must have regard to the Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales 2015, footnote 15 adds that the 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act places a duty on early years’ settings ‘to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’.

Inclusion of identifying risks of FGM

Section 3.6 of the Early Years Foundation Stage 2017 states:

‘Providers must train all staff to understand their safeguarding
 policy and procedures, and ensure that all
staff have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding issues….
Training made available may include…
any reasons to suspect neglect or abuse outside the setting,
for example in the child’s home or that a girl may
have been subjected to (or is at risk of) female genital mutilation.’

In the footnotes of this requirement the EYFS makes reference to the FGM guidelines, for your ease we have included a link in this article below:

Thisarticle brings you right up to date with the history of the Early Years curriculum, including the theorists that have impacted on the EYFS, as well as taking you through the changes of the EYFS to date. Obviously our main aim of this blog was to take you through the 2017 changes.

To help you in your planning for the new framework we have included a link to the new document below:

We have also included a link to the Early Years Workforce Strategy as mentioned earlier in the blog:

We hope that this blog has been helpful and look forward to reading your comments on this article.

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