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Reflective Practice and the EYP

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EYPS, reflective practice and how this can improve outcomes for children at a setting


Reflective practice is one of the tools which can be used by Early Years Professionals to fulfil their role as ‘change agent’, which is at the heart of the Early Years Professional Status (CWDC, 2008). By structured reflection on current practice the EYP can identify what change is valuable, worthwhile and improving.

Methods vary from setting to setting. Practitioners may have personal reflective log books which are then reviewed regularly. Reflection can be done as a team in staff meetings. Documents such as the Self Evaluation Form (SEF) and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) are valuable starting points.

Each of the EYFS Principles into Practice cards has a very constructive section on the back entitled ‘Reflecting on Practice’ which gives the sort of questions and issues practitioners should be considering.

In the practice guidance, reflecting on children’s play is identified as ‘crucial’ (EYFS, Practice Guidance, page 7). The guidance goes on to say that in a continuously improving setting the leader will lead and encourage a culture of reflective practice, self evaluation and informed discussion (page 9).

I recently had the pleasure of meeting an EYP from Bolton in the North West of England, who has thoroughly embraced the philosophy of reflective practice. During the visit to her setting I saw firsthand how she has influenced her setting since gaining the Status and created an ethos of reflective practice.

When she first started her initial priority was training staff and getting the environment right for the children. She did this by personally reflecting on every aspect of the setting, from the implementation of the EYFS to risk assessments. She felt it was important that the team were fully involved with the process and the practitioners had ownership of the ideas, so there was a period when staff met after work every week to discuss practice and ideas. From this a number of good ideas emerged.

Once such idea was the ‘jungle room’ where the conservatory area of the setting was converted into a jungle. Natural, open-ended resource such as logs, tubes, dried rice and pasta were introduced into the area. Children can easily access these and play with them in any way. The play is totally child initiated and child led. Whilst observing the children’s play and reflecting on the activities going on in the room, resources are added to extend their play. This is a constant process. The EYP believes that “constant, reflective practice results in continuous, improving practice”.

Twelve months on and she is planning on removing all the doors of the rooms to allow free flow play, for all ages of children, throughout the setting. This will have many advantages:

  • one excellent sand area instead of several sand areas of lesser quality in each room
  • easier transitions as the children will already be familiar with all the practitioners
  • peer learning through vertical integration within the setting
  • independent learning as children make their own choices.

This is going to require teamwork and commitment, both of which the EYP and the setting staff strongly support.

Reflective practice is enshrined in the EYFS and can be achieved in a number of ways. The essential element is that the reflection results in improvements in practice.

Whilst studying for the EYPS, candidates have to reflect on every aspect of their work. This is excellent preparation for being an EYP when being an effective change agent means continually reflecting and leading the team onto better practice. The benefits, though not always felt immediately, are immensely worthwhile.

References:

CWDC (2008) Guidance to the Standards for the award of Early Years Professional Status, Leeds

A longer version of this article originally appeared in Early Years Educator (EYE). You can access EYE at http://www.earlyyearseducator.co.uk/, either to subscribe or download articles.

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  • Lizzy Kengyelics 15 April 2011, 11:26 pm

    hi Kathy
    I am a Family outreach Worker based in Leeds, i am studying for a degree in Children’s Care Learning and Development. i am in the middle of writing an assignment and I just had to email you and say thank you very much for showing me how reflective practice is linked to EYFS you have put it in such succinct simple terms that I feel that I can now approach the assignment with a clearer picture of how reflection plays a big part in the framework.
    Many thanks

  • Kathy Brodie 16 April 2011, 5:51 pm

    Hi Lizzy,
    Thank you very much for your comments. I’m really pleased the reflective practice piece was useful.
    It is an area which is so important, because it underpins everything else that you do.
    Other references which you may find handy are:

    Lindon, J. (2010) Reflective practice and early years professionalism London. Hodder Education
    Moon, J (2008) Critical Thinking, an exploration of theory and practice Oxon. Routledge

    And check out the Government’s Quality wheel – very similar to one which was developed by the DCSF a couple of years ago, but still interesting:
    Quality Wheel http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/earlylearningandchildcare/a0074584/quality-improvement-in-early-years

    All the very best for your degree and future work

    Kathy

  • Tracy B 25 June 2011, 12:46 pm

    Kathy.
    I am currently undertaking EYPS, and have assessment in November. I am reflective in my practice but sometimes find it difficult to get other members of staff on board with new ideas, often hearing ‘but we have always done it like this’ which leaves me quite frustrated! I am determined to make positive changes for the setting, the children, colleagues and for myself personally and professionally, and am now trying to lead by example…if I am continually reflective in my practice and can show the positives that this practice creates, I am hoping this will drive my colleagues too. This article has made me ever more determined-Thank you.

  • Kathy Brodie 27 June 2011, 10:17 am

    Dear Tracy,
    Many thanks for your comment.

    I know you are not alone in this!

    I think you have summed up the whole ethos of EYPS very well in your comments. There are no easy fixes (or else we would’ve used them already) and your role as an EYP is to keep chipping away, to introduce better practice, in whatever way works best.

    Very best of luck for your studies

    Kathy

  • Rukhsana 6 October 2011, 9:48 pm

    Hello Kathy i am in the final process of my Foundation Degree in Early Years. One of the last essays that i have to hand in is about reflection and being ‘change agents’. Your advice has been very helpful, especially the ones about the EYFS cards and how little changes matter. i have been trying to think of big changes but the way put it ‘keep chipping away’ makes it sound alot better. I feel like i can tackle this essay now and talk about the little changes i have made. Thank you

  • Kathy 6 October 2011, 10:46 pm

    Hi Rukhsana,
    Thank you very much for your comment.
    I’m very pleased that the article has helped you.

    Best of luck with the rest of your studies,

    Kathy

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