Last reviewed 26 October 2012

By Kay Crosse

As early years providers are fully aware, the revised framework is now a reality. For most providers this has meant some “tweaking” of practice and documentation rather than radical change to existing high-quality practice. After busy weeks spent planning and a few weeks implementing these plans, providers have raised the following points for clarification.

Characteristics of effective learning

The characteristics of effective learning emphasise how children learn rather than just what they learn. The three characteristics are identified as the following.

  1. Playing and exploring — how to enable children to become fully engaged in activities and learn through investigating and appropriate risk taking.

  2. Active learning — recognising that children are more motivated when they take an active part in activities and learning that arise from their interests and encourage concentration and perseverance.

  3. Creating and thinking critically — planning which enables practitioners to develop sustained shared thinking and enables children to make connections and develop their own ideas.

The role of the key person

It is a requirement that all children are supported by their own key person and that parents are informed of the key person role when their child starts at the setting. The key person is responsible for ensuring that every child’s learning and care meet their own individual needs. In addition, the key person must support parents in guiding their child’s learning in the home and, if necessary, support parents in obtaining specialist support. It is highly likely that the key person will be responsible for implementing and writing the two-year-old progress check

The prime areas of learning

All providers need to plan for the individual needs and interests of all children, particularly the youngest, but there is now a strong focus on the three prime areas of learning.

  1. Communication and language.

  2. Physical development.

  3. Personal, social and emotional development.

These prime areas are described as the basis for the key skills and abilities that children need before starting formal schooling. If a child’s progress in any of the prime areas gives cause for concern, practitioners are required to discuss this with parents and then agree with them how best to support the child. The prime areas of learning are the focus of the two-year-old progress check.

Children with English as an additional language

Providers are required to support a child’s home language through planning opportunities for children to develop their home language in play and learning activities. However, providers must also ensure that children have opportunities to reach a good standard of English during the EYFS so that they can fully benefit from learning opportunities in Year 1.

Providers must assess the child’s skills in English. If the child does not have an effective understanding of English they must explore the child’s skills in their home language to consider if there is any language delay and if so plan for appropriate support.

The assessment of learning and development

The EYFS profile handbook (EYFSP) is due to be published in the autumn of 2012. Assessment must take place during the final term of the year in which the child reaches five years of age and ensure that paperwork is limited to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development.

The assessment can be made using a variety of means, including:

  • providers’ daily observations

  • written records made by staff working in the setting

  • records of discussions with the child’s parents

  • records of discussions with other adults who can offer a useful and relevant contribution.

Each child’s level of development is to be assessed against the early learning goals (which have been considerably reduced in number) and recorded on the EYFSP using the criteria of:

  • expected — meeting the expected level of development

  • exceeding — exceeding the expected level of development

  • emerging — not yet reaching the expected level of development.

The results of the EYFSP must be shared with the child’s parents and the Year 1 teacher. In addition to a copy of the profile, providers must also provide a short written report on each child’s skills and abilities in relation to the three key characteristics of effective learning, so that reception and Year 1 teachers can use it as a basis for future planning.

Supervision of staff

Early years providers who have contact with children must receive effective supervision, which may consist of support, coaching and training. Supervision must promote mutual support, teamwork and continuous improvement as well as encourage appropriate confidential discussion of sensitive issues. Opportunities must be offered for staff to:

  • discuss any issues, particularly those concerning a child’s development or well being

  • discuss and identify plans of actions and solutions to address ongoing issues

  • discuss their professional development needs and receive support and coaching to improve their personal effectiveness.

In addition to the above requirements, providers must also receive regular staff appraisals so that training needs can be identified together with plans for continued professional development.

The revised framework and childminding providers

Childminders must complete a local authority approved training course to help them understand and implement the revised EYFS before they can register with Ofsted.

Childminders are responsible for the quality of work of any assistants, and any staff in sole charge of the children for any period of time must hold a current paediatric first aid certificate.

Childminders’ assistants may be let in the sole charge of the children for a maximum of two hours during any one day.

Childminders are not required to have written procedures for handling complaints (although many childminders do) but it is a requirement to keep a record of any complaints that are received, together with the outcome.

Additional guidance for childminders is available from the local authority childminding support officer and the local childminding network.