It is available on their website, but, disappointingly, is only downloadable. The Framework becomes statutory in September 2012, so there’s not much time to become familiar with it (certainly less than when the EYFS was originally introduced).
From first reading, there seems to be only minor tweaks, the most obvious being the reduction in the number of pages (31 from beginning to end, down from 55). Another tweak being the seven areas of learning and development, which have been divided into prime areas (communication and language; physical development) and specific areas (literacy; mathematics; understanding the world; expressive arts and design). I feel the differentiation between prime and specific has been dealt with more eloquently in the development matters (practice guidance) on the Early Education website..
In general, it is what was expected. However, there are a few elements which worry me.
1. The ‘preparation for more formal learning’ (page 6, 1.9 penultimate paragraph). I had thought we’d left that behind long ago. Children should be doing what is developmentally appropriate for where they are NOW, not where they may be in 6 months time. Reception teachers, who are already struggling against the inappropriate top down pressure from head teachers, may well feel that the rug has been pulled out from under them.
2. The guidelines for the progress check at age 2 (page 10, 2.3 onwards). These seem very woolly, which may be good for those confident in completing this new piece of paperwork, but I feel the Framework should have been more prescriptive here. The requirement is for a ‘short written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas’, identifying strengths and any areas where progress is less than expected. How short is short? What sort of areas would need highlighting?
This section also indicates that any identified Special Educational Need should be identified. I would sincerely hope that practitioners would not wait until the progress check to highlight a child’s possible SEN, but I can see that the temptation would be to do just that.
There had been much discussion prior to publication of how the progress check would be shared with Health Visitors. However, on page 11, we find that it is down to the parents/carers to share the progress check with the health visitor. Unfortunately I fear this will either just not happen (creating an obsolete report) or will only happen where there are no concerns, so the very children who need help will slip through the net again.
3. Training and qualifications. There is a worrying phrase used on page 17, section 3.22. ‘providers should consider supporting’ staff to obtain level 2 qualifications. I feel this leaves a massive loophole for unscrupulous providers to not bother with training because its been ‘considered’ but nothing has been actually done about it. The original EYFS says ‘In particular, those staff with no qualifications should be supported in obtaining a relevant qualification at a minimum of a full and relevant level 2 qualification’ (Original EYFS, page 31) which I feel is a much stronger statement.
4. Risk assessments. Page 25 says that ‘providers must determine where it is helpful to make some written assessments’ and that it ‘does not necessarily need to be in writing.’ I would advise all providers to check the legality of this for their particular setting on the Health and Safety website. The Health and Safety laws may require written risk assessments, even if the EYFS doesn’t.
5. Record retention. The original EYFS demands that records must be kept for 3 years (page 40), whilst the revised version suggests a ‘reasonable period of time’. This is dangerously vague and could allow records to be destroyed before a child has transferred to school (6 weeks may be considered a reasonable time?).
And this really is a good example of my main doubt about the revised EYFS.
By reducing the quantity, I feel that it has created a number of areas which are open to interpretation. Although it could be argued that it makes the Framework more flexible, I’m a little worried that inexperienced or less confident practitioners may not find the support they have had in the past.
Similarly, it may not be helpful when the Ofsted inspector calls!
Overall, the revised EYFS is not a big change to the existing Framework.
It will be how nurseries and settings choose to implement it which will make the difference.
with thanks to Ryk Neethling at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rykneethling/ for the image