Why Birth to 5 Matters

This week, we are hosting Nancy Stewart, Project Lead of Birth to 5 Matters, new non-statutory guidance being developed in response to the government’s reforms to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in England. Join us on Tuesday 9 March at 19.00 (UTC). Register here.

But why does Birth to 5 Matter? This week’s blog post offers a timeline shedding light on this valuable document being prepared by the sector for the sector.

  • October 2020

    Nursery World reports that the revised Development Matters guidance has been met with criticism by some in the sector. In response, the Early Years Coalition launched an online survey to find out what practitioners really want from non-statutory guidance.

    Ms Stewart, co-author of the original Development Matters, said that “the goal of the alternative guidance, Birth to 5 Matters, is to maintain what is best and change only what updated evidence shows will improve the guidance,’ she said. 

    There will also be expanded guidance in central aspects of practice, with priorities likely to include children’s wellbeing and key skills and knowledge for every child growing up in the 21st century such as digital literacy, sustainability and citizenship. There will be a downloadable document that will minimise workload by looking familiar to practitioners, and we are also planning an interactive online version that will be backed up with additional resources to support practitioners as they want to go more deeply into an area of practice.”

    Nursery World, 20 October 2020

  • November 2020

    More than 1,600 early years professionals responded to the survey by the Early Years Coalition (EYC), and the vast majority of respondents want to see play (92 per cent) and the Characteristics of Effective Learning (89 per cent) included in the alternative guidance.

  • January 2021

    An article in Nursery World highlights there continues to be a strong support for age bands, an issue that Nancy Stewart describes as one of the thorniest. The first draft of the document asked respondents to rank their preference of having:

    • three broad descriptors
    • overlapping ovals
    • overlapping blocks
    • retaining the current age and stage bands model from Development Matters 2012.

    Responses were strongly split on the option of three broad descriptors, with a third listing it as first preference, and a third listing it as least preferred.

    The two options for overlapping bands were chosen by a total of 45 per cent as first choice. Overall overlapping bands shown with ovals showed the most consensus, with only 10 per cent placing it as least preferred. There was least support for the option of retaining the current age/stage bands, with 37 per cent listing it as least preferred.

    Nursery World, 25 January 2021

  • February 2021

    The second draft was published along with another consultation survey seeking input from the sector.

    These members of the EYC explain why Birth to 5 Matters is needed.

    Dr Stella Louis

    Kate Irvine

    Victoria Bamsey

  • March 2021

    The working groups and project team incorporate further feedback into the final version of the guidance, to be published at end March 2021. The guidance will be available, free of charge, on the Birth to 5 Matters website and will be accompanied by training for practitioners.

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