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Reflecting on the Revised EYFS

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Last week the revised EYFS was released, with changes to the educational programmes, and to the Early Learning Goals (ELGs).

In this Coffee Break we take a moment to reflect on each of the revised programmes, the place where the EYFS journey begins and from where settings begin to build inspiring curriculums.

What went well and what might have improved them?


Communication and Language

What Went Well:image.png

There is a focus on ‘back and forth interactions from an early age.’ The value of early language experiences, making noises, exploring sounds, mimicking each other, creating conversations with sounds that become words as a baby and child develop.

‘By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children’s language effectively.’ The programme emphasises using spoken words to create a language rich environment.

The whole programme recognises the many ways children practice and repeat vocabulary to embed it, and how this underpins all other learning.

Even Better If:

The inclusion of partnership with parents here would have been welcome, working with them on understanding the importance of the ‘back and forth’, ‘commenting’ and ‘echoing back ‘.


Personal Social and Emotional Development

What Went Well:

Wellbeing is emphasised: ‘healthy and happy lives’ (including healthy eating appearing in this programme). Inspiring curriculums around Mind, Body and Soul could emerge from this, in combination with aspects of Physical Development, to begin lifelong healthy habits.

There are some positive balances in the phrases used: ‘persist and wait for what they want’ is one example. The balance between being tenacious and patient.

Even Better If:

More emphasis on the ongoing nature of healthy habits. They can be with us, and we can keep learning them, forever – and they don’t stop when a child has reached an ELG standard.


Physical Development

What Went Well:

Gross Motor and Fine Motor are discussed separately, giving each of them greater presence.

Wellbeing is a focus: ‘pursue happy, healthy and active lives’. Aspects of the PSED and PD programmes could dovetail positively and creatively into a Mind, Body and Soul curriculum.

Even Better If:

The fine motor wording may be in danger of limiting children to certain kinds of activities and of increasing overzealous adult intervention to ‘improve’ pencil grip rather than celebrating the desire to mark make and write.



What Went Well:

‘It is crucial for children to develop a lifelong love of reading.’ The best opening statement of all the programmes!

There is a positive division between Language development which ‘starts from birth’ and word reading which is ‘taught later’. This makes it clear that one follows the other, and where they sit in the EYFS developmental space.

There are strong links with Communication and Language and talking.

Even Better If:

In the interests of linking the programmes together to encourage the creation of an holistic curriculum, mention of the physical aspect of writing (fine motor skills) as well as ‘transcription’ and ‘composition’ would have been welcome.



What Went Well:

A greater focus on number: ‘develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers.’ It is made clear this depth of understanding is to 10.

Shape Space and Measure is included in the programme.

There is an emphasis on supporting positive attitudes towards maths: ‘have a go’ and ‘not be afraid to make mistakes’ are the phrases used. Developing confidence with number through trial and error.

Even Better If:

The phrase ‘build and apply this understanding’ is included, but the word play is absent from this programme. The early years is arguably the best place to ‘build and apply’ mathematical concepts and understanding because of the many opportunities for play and exploration.

In the Literacy programme the opening line is ‘a lifelong love of reading’. In the summary of what has changed since the consultation the phrase ‘foster a love of maths’ is used. But when we get to the programme for Mathematics, we see words like ‘excel’ and ‘mastery’ and ‘positive attitudes’. The inclusion of a lifelong love of number would have made a real impact.


Understanding the Worldimage.png

What Went Well:

Not a lot!

Even Better If:

For a programme that could open the world up for children, the wording used is closed and limiting. Cultural, social, technological and ecological understanding is to be fostered by passively ‘listening to a broad range of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems’, alongside some visits to ‘parks, libraries and museums’ and from ‘important members of our society’. Where is the awe and wonder that will inspire our youngest children to become informed, kind, innovative citizens of the future?


Expressive Arts and Design

What Went Well:

The senses are given centre stage: ‘see, hear and participate in’ and ‘hear, respond and observe’.

There is plenty of room for interpretation in this programme, allowing settings to respond to each cohort and individual child.

Even Better If:

For a programme that is about expression and creativity, the language used is bland and uninspiring. The word imagination only appears once in all the programmes, and it is here, hidden away in a sentence about ‘artistic and cultural awareness’. Seeing imagination referred to more often in all the programmes, and especially here, alongside awe and wonder (also absent) would have been welcome.


You can listen to our education team discuss the revised education programmes in their podcast here

Edited by Jules

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