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The Route to EYPS

We attended a preparation day for the formative or Gateway review. The whole process was explained to us, and we were able to practice the tasks that we would be carrying out "for real" at our Gateway review.
The review comprises four exercises and a written reflection of the review itself. It is designed to not only check that we understand the 39 Standards, but to assess the following three key skills:

* the ability to make decisions on the basis of sound judgement
* the ability to lead and support others
* the ability to relate to, and communicate with, others

The Gateway review iself:

1)Personal interview
I had been asked to prepare some notes prior to the day, where I had briefly written down my relevant experience and knowledge against each of the standards. In addition, we also had a sheet to share with our assessor at the personal interview. The headings were:

* Groups of Standards about which I am most confident and why
* Groups of Standards about which I am least confident and why
* What do I need to do to build on the strengths and address the areas of weakness before I submit for assessment?

These notes gave my assessor and I lots to talk about. I was able to say how confident I was that I was able to evidence all of the standards, although some had more evidence than others. We talked about how I would continue to develop professionally and what my immediate plans were.

2)Staff interview
I was given a brief, ten minutes prior to the staff interview, where a scenario was described. The content is confidential, but suffice to say it was a scenario that could happen in any early years setting. I was allowed to make notes before asking the actor in, and beginning the interview.
This was the one task I was dreading, feeling that it would not demonstrate my skills as a leader and manager, and that I would not be able to role play sufficiently to demonstrate my skills. I was wrong! The actor was brilliant, and within seconds, I was well into my role and feeling pretty comfortable about it all.
My assessor was present, observing and recording the 15 minute discussion.
I ended the meeting, left the room, and my assessor and the actor discussed my performance!

3)Written exercise
This exercise consisted of five items, eg a description of a letter from a parent, a reported telephone conversation, or a post-it note from a member of staff. I had to write a bulleted response to each, stating what I would do, when, and by what means. This was a tricky one; we only had 30 minutes for the whole thing, and I feel it's impossible to cover everything that you would like to, in such a short time. Inevitably candidates will miss things out, as you can only write so fast! I really don't feel I was able to demonstrate all my knowledge and skills due to the restricted time, and in real life, one would consider alternatives and deliberate one's response.

4)Group exercise
I needed to prepare a four minute talk about something I have done to bring about change in a setting. We were only allowed brief notes; no overheads, handouts, etc, and we were required to give a list of bullet points to our assessor.
In a group of four, we took it in turns to do our talks, and we were then required to discuss them, drawing out conclusions, similarities, etc. and listing them on the board. For this latter discussion we were allocated 14 minutes.

The final part of the day was a brief questionnaire, requiring us to reflect on the four exercises.

The following week, I received the feedback from the formative review, for each of the four tasks. There was also a feedback summary sheet, detailing my strengths and development points in relation to the three skills listed above. The information will inform areas that I will need to address and/or emphasise through the written tasks.

We have a day planned for preparing our written tasks; that will be part 4!

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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