/ Rory Haynes
Aside from all of you early adopters, many Primary Schools across the country will be getting to grips with the new EYFS Framework Update for 2021. This set of standards and requirements, originally implemented by the government in 2008 to provide a framework which could deliver consistent and high quality environments for all children from birth to five, has been modified to improve outcomes for children. While this is not the first set of changes made to the EYFS framework, the latest instalment has a distinct focus on addressing language and literacy results among disadvantaged children while also reducing teacher workload.
In this blog, Bromcom will explore the main changes that represent the first major revisions to the bill since 2012, and how our Primary Tracker can accommodate both statutory and non-statutory requirements to ensure all your students make the progress they need to succeed.
EYFS Statutory Framework – Early Learning Goals (ELGs)
First, we turn to the ELGs or Early Learning Goals for you non-abbreviation types. The ELGs are in place to summarise knowledge, skills and understanding which all children should have gained by the end of their reception year. If this is the case, they will reach GLD or Good Level of Development and, if not, it may be that intervention is required or that SEN provision is put in place.
In total, there are 17 ELGs which form the skeletal structure of the EYFS statutory framework. Students must meet these ELGs by the end of their reception year, which are all encompassed within seven overarching topics including, amongst others, Understanding the World and Physical Development. Teachers are required to assess their students against these statements which should accurately depict their child’s development and readiness for the dizzying heights of Year 1. But more on assessment later…
So what has actually changed with ELGs? Well, the headline changes from the government come via phraseology which, for both the 17 strands and seven topics, has been made clearer and more specific. It is hoped that this clarity will help to remove some of the ambiguity regarding what students should be achieving by the time they reach the age of five, and leave no doubt as to what a child should be expected to learn in ‘Year R’. An additional advantage to this may well be time saved by teachers who are not having to meet previously abstract criteria, allowing them to focus on individual child development.
In addition to wording changes in the statutory framework for EYFS, many of the topics and strands have had a rebrand. This includes, but is not limited to:
In general, while this doesn’t represent wholesale changes to ELGs, it should hopefully make the life of a Primary school teacher and student that little bit easier. Now, as promised, we shall turn our attentions to assessment.
The EYFS assessment framework 2021 certainly looks a little different from previous iterations. The EYFS profile itself must be completed in the final term of reception in which all children, if they have not already done so, turn five. The ELGs help to provide an accurate picture to other practitioners, SLT and parents/guardians of the child’s abilities against the benchmark Good Level of Development.
In previous years, the EYFS framework for assessment had been centred on three different criteria: emerging, expected and exceeding. In the EYFS assessment 2021 update, exceeding has been removed from the statutory grading system with teachers now only have to judge whether a child is meeting the level of development expected or not yet at the required level.
This development puts teacher’s expertise at the heart of the child’s progress. Aside from the stripped back grading system, they will also have the opportunity to provide a statement on each of the 17 strands that form the ELGs. These short commentaries relate to three fundamental aspects of a child’s learning which are: playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically. The grading simplification is designed to make progress easier to define across EYFS without being bogged down in the minutiae of smaller grade subsets. With a smaller spectrum of grading/progress aims there can be more focus on the pupil to get them to the required level or push them to discover more.
Another change in relation to the common assessment EYFS framework is also aimed to reduce the burden placed on practitioners. Previously, 25% of schools within a Local Authority were required to provide data which could then be moderated to ensure consistency across the board. The removal of moderation means there is less emphasis on evidence gathering for evidence gathering’s sake, again placing more of an onus on the teacher’s relationship with the child and a greater opportunity to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
Schools may still wish to moderate internally to ensure all teaching staff are on the same page, but this is now at their discretion. Each teacher will be given guidelines to feel assured they are making the correct judgements when it comes to the ELGs.
These changes mark the most significant alterations to assessment for EYFS. The Progress Check, aged two, remains in place to check child’s development in key areas and address any emerging concerns. As well as this, the Reception Baselines Assessment (RBA) has made the cut in the 2021 EYFS policy update with some small wording changes to the statutory guidance. So far we have dealt with the statutory. Now, to the non-statutory which means sliding into Development Matters or DM, if you will.
The EYFS Development Matters 2021 guide is a central component of the EYFS non-statutory framework. It provides curriculum guidance which compliments the statutory structure and supports the work towards ELGs at the end of Reception.
Much like with the ELGs, there are no ‘wholesale changes’, more minor tweaks and wording changes. Nonetheless, it is important to address how they fall in line with the main EYFS framework and their benefits to schooling life in early years education.
Though, as mentioned, there is no obligation to use or even look at the Development Matters content, it is designed to inform the approach to a Reception year curriculum. It can also be utilised for nurseries and childminders too. There are now three age categories which give clear guidance on what a child is expected to achieve during specific years, these are: birth to three, three to four years olds and reception. This differentiates from the previous iteration which was separated by six age bands, measured in months. Again, this promotes the idea of a more holistic overview at certain key stages of a child’s young life with the Development Matters document also now providing ‘Observation Checkpoints’ to help you notice whether there are developmental concerns.
This top-level view of how a child should develop and learn is by no means concrete and does not provide the ultimate answer to ascertaining a child’s progress but it seems the DfE have been considered with this document and it should help many schools up and down the country for curriculum inspiration and may support child minders and nurseries with activities to help nourish their pupils, educationally.
So there it is, an overview of the EYFS Framework 2021 for schools up and down the country. Be it statutory or non-statutory, it is all covered in reams of PDF pages available on the government website. But what about schools with unique assessment procedures or different ways of addressing primary education? With these changes in place, can your current software compute the statutory amendments which are now in place? At Bromcom, we have an answer to all these solutions and more with our Primary Tracker.
Bromcom are acutely aware that a ‘one size fits all approach’ does not work for all schools or trusts, even if you eventually have to grade in the same consistent format. Some schools prioritise formative assessment throughout the year while others focus on summative at key termly intervals. Some will want to use Development Matters as the basis of their curriculum, while others will wish to harness their own unique curriculum which may be vastly different but still ensures those ELGs are met. So, with our Primary Tracker, we have adapted and accommodated to meet all circumstances.
We begin with assessment. Ultimately every primary school will have to fulfil statutory requirements but there are several paths available before reaching this juncture. Bromcom’s flexible Primary Tracker provides the opportunity to set both your own assessment criteria and frequency with which you assess. Typically, schools may wish to perform summative assessments once in the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms with the EYFS baseline 2021 coming in the first six weeks of reception. However, if this is not frequent enough for your needs you can up the amount with simple filters to add more assessment columns. Conversely, you may be a formative first educator and would prefer to remove summative assessment columns from the various templates on offer. Again, this is something which can be accommodated with our easy-to-use software. If you’re going to do more frequent formative assessment then why not add this to your assessment tracker in a different colour so it is easy to identify when going back over mark sheets! It should also be mentioned that formal ELG statements are readily loaded in meaning there is no need for manual entry and, as they are mandatory, they are locked in place to ensure final grading is not completed incorrectly. Development Matters statements are also available, should they be required.
Our assessment functionality does not stop there. Though you can use government recommended templates which are already housed in our MIS, you can change the grading system to one of your own choosing. If you have established a different system across your school or trust or even want to keep ‘exceeding’ in your terminology to earmark students who are excelling in certain areas, you can create these parameters. All these changes are complex enough for educators alongside their existing workload so if you want to stick with the old faithful ‘below, developing and secure’ then be our guest!
Once you’ve configured your assessment sheets to include everything your school, trust or local authority requires, you can then look at prioritising evidencing and analysis. Again, Bromcom has you covered.
Evidencing child’s progress has never been so straightforward. Instead of creating huge binders of pupils work or folders located in the deepest darkest corners of your PC, you can now upload pieces of work to different strands or topics with a click of a paperclip. Say for example, a student does an excellent piece of work which fulfils your pre-approved criteria for assessment, simply take an image or screenshot and attribute it to the pupil’s profile. When evidencing decisions with SLT or even simply for peace of mind, you can slowly build up a comprehensive portfolio of work across all subjects to help with justifications come ELG grading time at the end of the year. If a whole class is working on a particular strand and the vast majority have evidenced their aptitude for the subject, a flood fill column is available for quick and easy marking, meaning only those who are ‘emerging’ or ‘developing’ need to be completed.
When it comes to analysis this can be done on an individual, class, year or school-wide basis. You can compare results with previous cohorts, contrast aptitudes across different strands and even filter with specific parameters such as FSM, EAL or SEN. This series of subsets allows for a forensic analysis of primary tracking data which is all logically presented on your assessment tracker sheet. Simply pick your filter and spot the patterns. This data is not limited to Bromcom’s MIS either, all of this data can be exported to Excel and can be used to justify strategic decisions and required intervention at any stage throughout the year. Ultimately, we want you and your students to be in the best position at the end of the year and visibility over your data is paramount to this.
Bromcom’s Primary Tracker has been adapted to help you achieve the best outcomes for your students. With our platform, much like these EYFS reforms, we make your life easier so you can focus on engaging with your classes and maximising their opportunities for success.
Finally, with change comes uncertainty and we want to leave the ‘Bromcommunity’ with some parting words of wisdom when it comes to addressing the new EYFS framework update in your day-to-day life:
Good luck for the remainder of the academic year and, remember, Bromcom are always here to support your Primary needs.