Speaking up for children: the DfE’s consultation on reforms to the EYFS

We’d like to start this blog by saying Happy New Year! We know it’s been a while since we last posted, but we are starting 2020 afresh with a New Year’s resolution to continue to contemplate childhoods with a new article every week.

Thinking about our 2020 New Year’s resolution has made us reflect back on what we’ve pledged to do previously. If you were reading our blog back in 2018 you’ll remember that our New Year’s resolution then was to speak up more for children. We argued that there are always small things we can we can say and do in our everyday life to make a difference for children – whether it be signing a petition, challenging practice within our early childhood workplace or supporting children in speaking up for themselves.

If you do want to speak up for children, one thing we’d encourage you to do this month is consider completing the Department for Education’s consultation on proposed changes to the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. The consultation has been open since October 2019 so you may have already completed it, but if not then you have until 31st January 2020 to share your views. Whether you are working in early years, studying early years or a parent or carer, it’s a way that you can have your voice heard on the reforms that the government is proposing to make to the EYFS framework.

Before completing it, we’d recommend reading through what others have to say about the planned changes. Early Education, The British Association for Early Childhood Education, has argued that “the proposals are problematic and need significant further changes to ensure the revised EYFS is an improvement on the current version rather than a backward step.” This view is, in part, as a result of a literature review commissioned by a coalition of organisations that represent the early years sector, including Early Education, National Children’s Bureau, PACEY, BERA and TACTYC, amongst others.  The literature review aimed to answer the research questions of How far does the rationale for the prime and specific areas and the characteristics of effective learning reflect current knowledge about early learning and teaching? and What aspects of the EYFS are affirmed and what need adjustment based on evidence from the last 10 years? One conclusion taken from the literature review is that the research evidence “does not support extensive changes to the EYFS, and those it does support are not always reflected in the proposed changes, eg increased emphasis on citizenship and children’s rights.”

So if you are looking for a way to speak up for children, take the opportunity to do some reading on what organisations in the sector think of the proposed EYFS changes, and then complete the Department for Educations’ consultation. If you’d like to share your views on the proposed reforms we’d love to read them in the comments below.

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