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Birth to 5 Matters

New non-statutory guidance for the EYFS by the sector, for the sector

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We invited the sector to respond to our online survey to find out practitioners’ views and needs for guidance to support the revised EYFS, with this first survey closing on 2 November. This was the first stage of a process to help shape a revision of the 2012 EYFS non-statutory guidance Development Matters in response to feedback that showed practitioners want to keep the best aspects of this highly valued guidance, while updating and improving it to reflect current challenges.  Over the next several months the Early Years Coalition will provide opportunities for comment on successive drafts of the new guidance, to be known as “Birth to 5 Matters – early years guidance by the sector, for the sector”.

Read the press release


The Early Years Sector Coalition was disappointed with the government's new non-statutory guidance for the EYFS (read our statement) and therefore propose to work with the sector over the next six months to develop guidance for the sector, by the sector, which we are calling Birth to Five Matters.  

This is an opportunity to revise existing guidance to develop an evidence-informed document for our times that addresses practitioners’ needs and concerns about doing what is best for children.  Priorities are 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. 

The process of developing the guidance will give practitioners opportunities for active involvement in producing guidance and resources that support practice, that reflect their pedagogic principles and that bring together research and practice knowledge.

In due course, there'll be a website to keep everyone informed about progress in researching, drafting and consulting on the new guidance.  For now, we'll post any updates here.

Members of the coalition will keep their members informed about the process and how to get involved, or you can sign up to get updates about Birth to Five Matters direct to your inbox.

About the Early Years Sector Coalition

In 2018, the government announced its intention to review the Early Learning Goals, and it became clear that a reform of the EYFS Statutory Framework and non-statutory guidance was also intended.  Concerns about the process and objectives led all the main bodies representing the early years sector to come together to express their concerns, provide constructive support and advice to ministers and officials, and act as a voice for the sector.  Those bodies, collectively representing tens of thousands of practitioners and providers, are:

  • Early Education has 900 individual members and 400 organisational members with multiple practitioner contacts
  • The Early Years Alliance has 14,000 members
  • The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) represents 60,000 practitioners
  • Keeping Early Years Unique (KEYU) represents 47,000 practitioners, leaders, parents/carers, lecturers, advisors, consultants. 
  • Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network (ECSDN) represents HE institutions which deliver Early Childhood Studies degrees and their equivalent to 20,000 students
  • TACTYC: The Association for Professional Development in Early Years has over 160 individual members and a reach of 21,000+ website national and international visitors.
  • Sector Endorsed Foundation Degrees in Early Years Professional Association (SEFDEY) represents c.1000 staff and students across 70 institutions
  • The Froebel Trust has over 1,000 associates
  • Montessori St Nicholas represents 4,700 Montessori teachers
  • Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship represents 500 Early Childhood practitioners
  • British Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) reaches several hundred early years researchers and practitioners
  • The Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) reaches several thousand early years researchers and practitioners
  • The Early Childhood Forum (ECF) has 21 member organisations each of which has hundreds, some thousands of members (some of which are also members of the Coalition).

The work of the coalition is being financially supported by Cosy.

The coalition:

  • produced a review of the research literature from the last ten years to identify evidence which should be informing the changes.  This was publicly launched and published and offered to government to inform its thinking. 
  • carried out a survey of 3000 practitioners’ views on what aspects of the EYFS should be changed to support ministers’ stated objectives.  This was also published and shared with government.

The clear view among practitioners and the evidence from the research was that the EYFS Statutory Framework and non-statutory guidance did not need substantial reform.  Despite this, the entire text of the educational programmes and early learning goals in the Statutory Framework were re-written. Most of the change was unnecessary and did not improve the framework in terms of clarity, practicality or correspondence with child development.  Similarly, the text of the non-statutory guidance has been entirely re-written. Only 2800 schools have decided to become early adopters, meaning that over 80% of schools have opted not to introduce the new framework this year. 

What you need to know about the EYFS reforms