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The Route to EYPS

Having handed in my written tasks on the Monday morning, I set about getting ready for my setting visit on the Thursday. Talk about a busy week!

I decided to use the programme as suggested in the handbook, as this fits well with the structure of our morning. So my assessor arrived at 8.20, she met the nursery supervisor, we made coffee and set ourselves up in the study. First off was the discussion around one of the critical incidents I had written about for task 4. I wasn't required to add anything extra: my assessor was supportive and asked questions to help me really think about my actions and their effect on others. A good experience.

I then showed my assessor my evidence file, and how I had organised it. I had put a sticky label on each item and numbered them D1-D52; very easy to follow! She had an hour and a quarter to go through it, and we then had the setting tour.

I had already decided which standards I was going to focus on for the tour, and had written bulleted points to remind me what I was going to say or point out. I also wrote the number of the standard, and the standard itself underneath each point. I literally walked around the setting pointed things out, eg
* This is where the children put their name tags as they self-register.
* This is our graphics area where the children can choose which resources to use from our low shelving.
* This is where we keep our observation sheets, and today, our focus child is Lottie.
* I created this display for the parents, showing how the children learn through play.

I have a small setting, but it still took around 40 minutes. I then gave my sheet to the assessor so that she could use it to write up her notes. She then had 45 minutes before my first witness arrived for her interview. I had asked a past-parent whose two boys had attended my setting, and who occasionally comes in on supply. I had asked her to provide supporting evidence for the standards around relationships with children (S25 to S28), and around communicating and working in partnership with families and carers (S29 to S32).

My next witness was my second-in-command, our nursery supervisor. I asked her to talk about my role relative to the first group of standards (S1 to S6), the professional development standards (S37 to S39) and a few from the effective practice section.

My third and final witness was my newest member of staff. I had selected her because I believed she could give an account of how I promote teamwork, how my induction process works, and how I have integrated her into the setting. These are the standards within the teamwork and collaboration section, (S33 to S36). I also asked her to provide some evidence for the remaining standards in the effective practice section (ie those that hadn't been covered by my supervisor).

My assessor then had an hour and forty minutes for lunch and for reflection time. We had a brief chat at the end, which would be ordinarily used to "mop up" any gaps in her assessments, but luckily she thought that all standards had been covered sufficiently.

I now have to wait for the moderation to be carried out, and to be notified that I've got EYPS (hopefully!).

I'd like to end with some positive comments about the whole process. I'm really glad I did it, for several reasons. Firstly, it made me think deeply about my current and recent roles and, to a certain extent, it was a bit of an ego boost in that I think I do a good job! It also allowed me time to reflect on things I would like to develop in my professional knowledge and skills. It has also promoted much thought about future roles for EYPSs and the exciting developments ahead, both in terms of the new EYFS and also the Children's Centres agenda.

I felt that the validation process ran very smoothly, but I deliberately did it at a time in my life where I wasn't too pressured elsewhere. I have just the two jobs (!): running my nursery and contributing to this forum. My children are 12 and 9 and therefore a little more independent, and I'm not doing any other courses at the moment. For all these reasons, it was an enjoyable experience. I do however, know other candidates who are working many more hours per day than I am, have a very young family, AND are doing a degree simultaneously, and I know they are finding it too much. My advice would be to choose your time carefully, make sure you are familiar with the 39 standards and that you truly believe you can provide evidence for them, and it should be a smooth process. Good luck!

Helen Edwards
Helen was a primary school teacher before setting up and running her own nursery for ten years. She worked as a Foundation Stage advisor for East Sussex local authority before achieving EYPS with the first cohort of candidates at the University of Brighton. She was an EYPS assessor for two providers in the South East, a reflective practice tutor at the University of Brighton and an Ofsted inspector. She is a Director of the Foundation Stage Forum and a member of the Tapestry Education Group.

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