• The Key

Changes to the EYFS Framework

Updated: Mar 26

Back in 2019 – do you remember those days, when staff sickness and recruitment were amongst the top 5 of our challenges – the DfE led a 12 week consultation on the proposed changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. This subsequently led to new educational programmes and early learning goals (ELGs), which are being trialed by early adopter school as we speak.


Let’s take 5 to remind ourselves of the changes that will be in place from Sept 2021;


  • The Early Learning Goals are defined as ‘the level of development children should be expected to have attained by the end of the EYFS’. As in previous guidance, the goals are not be used as a curriculum but should be used to support practitioners to make ‘best-fit’ judgements about a child’s development.

  • Communication and Language “Listening and attention” has changed to “Listening, attention and understanding” with the removal of the individual “Understanding” ELG.

  • Physical Development is reduced to only fine and gross motor skills. Selfcare has moved to Personal, Social and Emotional Development, which we feel is a much better fit.

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development include Executive Function which we are pleased to see introduced into this new framework. There is also the inclusion of the requirement for children to “Form positive attachments to adults and friendships with peers”. Whilst this may first sound great, we know that attachments are much more complex than simply being formed and there are a range of factors at play which can impact on how well attachments are formed.

  • Literacy divides the ELG for Reading into Comprehension and Word Reading or decoding. Not an approach we are a fan of, as dividing the two only serves to see phonics as a stand-alone concept, which we know is not effective in early years.

  • Mathematics now has the ELGs of “Number” and “Numerical Patterns”. We wholeheartedly welcome the attention to detail on the understanding of numbers to ten, however the inclusion of automatic recall of number bonds and double facts is not something the team at The Key Leadership is supportive of.

  • Understanding the World shows a complete change to all its current ELG’s with “Past and Present”, “Culture and Communities” and “Natural World” taking their place. Technology has been taken out completely which we feel is a huge mistake.

  • The changes within Expressive Art and Design, from “Exploring and using media and materials” to “Creating with materials” is something we again are not entirely happy with. Does this change place the focus on the end product rather the creative exploration and process? “Being imaginative” becomes “Being imaginative and expressive”.



With these changes confirmed in the new guidance, a further consultation is under way as required by law under the Childcare Act 2006. The legislative process, needed to ratify the reforms to the EYFS, includes the requirement of the DfE to seek views on proposed minor changes to the safeguarding and welfare section of the revised EYFS statutory framework.


So what are they proposing to change?


There have been some minor tweaks, which we won’t go into, but the over arching themes are as follows:


There is additional guidance on using the ELG’s as a best fit, not as a curriculum or to 'limit the wide variety of rich experiences that are crucial to child development, from being read to frequently to playing with friends.’ However, the statement then moves into, ‘….their readiness for year 1’. Is this ‘readiness’ a willingness to sit down and be taught rather than to continue learning holistically through play as in the early years? Unfortunately, the likely answer is yes.


The guidance (pg 17) goes on to mention the assessment process, removing the requirement for any physical evidence, which we are pleased to see. However, this is going to take a lot of work, not only to change the processes embedded in lots of early years settings, but also the minds and hearts of inspectors as they inspect settings. But hold up….pg 18 then tells us we have to assess ’each child's level of development against the early learning goals’, indicating levels of attainment, on the EYFS profile, ….so….yes….we actually are required to ‘prove this through collection of physical evidence’, albeit reduced.


Pg 25 includes reference to providers responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 and this is a welcome addition. It is essential that the services and employment that we offer includes fair and equal treatment for all.


The addition of the word approved’ in reference to qualifications also serves to improve the service we offer. What hope for now is a coherent and easy to navigate list of approved qualifications to be able to check against….wouldn’t that be lovely?


Increased transparency of children’s menus and food safety is included on pg 32 and includes footnote links to example menus. This is something the majority of settings already do, and we welcome children’s health being prioritised alongside their education.


Staff smoking and vaping rules have been made explicit……just incase anyone was wondering……do people really still think this is ok around children? Time to update your policy to include vaping maybe?


Pg 37 includes a new sentence…”records can include a daily record of staff attendance’. … hmmm… we would suggest having a record of staff attendance is pretty much a necessity, not a ‘can’; think fire regs, health and safety and safeguarding. The ability to look back and know for sure who was in the setting on which days and which times, is a big deal we feel. What’s more, pg 40 then goes on to include legal duties around employment law, anti-discrimination, health and safety, data collection and duty of care. But keeping a daily record of staff attendance….ah, you can …if you want to! **Rolls eyes** .


With all this in mind, we will be submitting our response to these proposals and urge you to do the same. It is essential that we use our voice to bring about change. If we don’t, we can’t complain at a later date when we don’t agree with the reforms. You have until the 18th March in which to voice your opinion here:


Have your say: Draft EYFS framework & statutory instrument | From pregnancy to children aged 5 (foundationyears.org.uk)


Let us know what you think in the comments!