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Early years foundation stage and Development Matters advice

Development Matters sets out the pathways of children’s development in broad ages and stages to help you assess each child’s level of development. This enables you to make informed decisions about what a child needs to learn and be able to do next. It guides but does not replace professional judgement.

Development Matters should not be used as a tick list. It is a non-statutory document to help guide you. You can also use other resources to help guide you, for example:

Completing a 2 year progress check

You still need to complete a 2 year progress check.

Please refer to section 2 of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage 2021.

2.4. When a child is aged between two and three, practitioners must review their progress, and provide parents and/or carers with a short, written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas. This progress check must identify the child’s strengths, and any areas where the child’s progress is less than expected. If there are significant emerging concerns, or an identified special educational need or disability, practitioners should develop a targeted plan to support the child’s future learning and development involving parents and/or carers and other professionals (for example, the provider’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or health professionals) as appropriate.

Refer also to paragraphs 2.5 and 2.6.

If you are currently using any tools and resources to help you assess children’s learning and development, please do not just stop using them.

The Quality and Development Team and the team at the Children’s Development Centre are working on alternative materials to support you.

Generic transition form

There is a generic transition form below if you wish to use it which also reflects Development Matters 2020.

Training on Development Matters and SEND

We have asked providers to let us know of specific training they would like. We have offered to present the Introduction to EYFS 2021 and Development Matters 2020 to staff teams.

Base lines

A base line is the first assessment that you make regarding a child’s learning and development. It should involve:

  • parental views
  • the voice of the child
  • any other information from professionals who may be working with the child
  • your observations

It is up to your professional judgement regarding what or how much you record. However, what you do record should be useful and relevant so that it informs planning for the child. It should also highlight areas where the child is at risk of falling behind their peers so that support can be targeted to help children who are struggling to access the curriculum and to make progress.

When children are at earlier stages of development than expected, it is important to notice what they enjoy doing and also find out where their difficulties may lie. They need extra help so that they become secure in the earlier stages of development. It is not helpful to wait for them to become ‘ready’.

Moderation examples

It is expected that moderation examples for Yr. R classes will be published later in the year.

There is a new Birth to 5 Matters document with supporting resources for practitioners.

Encouraging parents and children who are terrified of the dentist to look after their oral health

Supporting oral health is about developing respectful relationships with the families who access your provision. It’s about being pro-active rather than reactive.

So, it’s about sharing good practice and educating families about healthy eating and not giving their children sugary sweets, snacks and drinks. Bear in mind that a high number of advertised ‘healthy drinks and snacks’ contain a large amount of sugar. It’s about how you teach the children about being healthy and to look after their wellbeing, for example through stories, activities, role play and what you provide for them to eat and drink.

It is also about working with parents to help their child ‘dump the dummy or bottle’ and encouraging them to make sure that their child brushes their teeth at least twice a day and that they take their child to visit the dentist regularly.

Observations around each individual child and their learning

There is no set requirement regarding the frequency or amount of observations and assessments practitioners should be doing. Ofsted do not want you to do this for them. Watch a video by them about this.

Dr Julien Grenier (author of Development Matters) suggests that you will need to record some things, but focus where it really matters, especially for the ones who are struggling.

Consider recording some children for some of the time but not for all children all of the time. Assessment should be useful - it’s not about gathering lots of data and evidence and should not take you away from children for long periods of time.

Don’t do observations just for the sake of it - there is no use in recording the same thing often. Accurate assessment helps practitioners to make informed decisions about what a child needs to learn and be able to do next.

Adult and child interaction

Effective pedagogy is a mix of different approaches. Children learn through play, by adults modelling, by observing each other, and through guided learning and direct teaching. Having an enabling environment which is carefully planned both indoors and outside, is also important to enable high-quality play with time and space available for children to invent their own play and with adults who join in sensitively to support and extend children’s learning.

In planning and guiding what children learn, practitioners must reflect on the different rates at which children are developing and adjust their practice appropriately. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:

  • playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things and ‘have a go’
  • active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
  • creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things

Contact information

Quality and Development Team

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