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Early years practitioners urged to have their say, as work begins on “Birth to 5 Matters” EYFS guidance

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Monday, 19 October, 2020

An online survey is being launched today by the Early Years Coalition (EYC), a group of sector representative bodies, to find out practitioners’ views and needs for guidance to support the revised EYFS. This is 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”.

“We will be working with the sector to build on existing guidance and develop an evidence-informed document for our times, reflecting key concerns raised by the pandemic and longer-standing debates around how to create strong foundations for children from birth to 5.  It will address practitioners’ needs and concerns about doing what is best for children,” said Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive of Early Education who is chairing the Early Years Coalition (EYC). “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.”

Birth to 5 Matters is a collaborative project by the coalition of major early years sector organisations. The EYC has appointed two members of staff to coordinate the project and ensure wide participation from across the sector, gathering input from a range of expert working groups and from public opportunities to respond to drafts as the guidance develops. Nancy Stewart, Project Lead, and Sharon Colilles, Project Assistant, will be advised and supported by the EYC Steering Group.

“We know from the EYC’s earlier survey of over 3000 practitioners that the current Development Matters is a much-valued resource.  The goal is to maintain what is best and change only what updated evidence shows will improve the guidance,” said Nancy Stewart.  “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.”

Each organisation in the coalition will be contacting its members to invite them to take part in the first online survey for Birth to 5 Matters via an organisation-specific link.  Practitioners who are not members of EYC organisations are also encouraged to take part in the survey using the following link:  The closing date for responses is 2 November 2020.

Notes to editors: 

1. The coalition members include:

  • British Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA)/Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC)
  • Early Education
  • Early Childhood Forum (ECF)
  • Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network (ECSDN)
  • Early Years Alliance
  • Froebel Trust
  • Keeping Early Years Unique (KEYU)
  • LGBTQIA Early Years
  • Montessori St Nicholas
  • National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA)
  • National Education Union
  • Sector Endorsed Foundation Degrees in the Early Years (SEFDEY)
  • Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship
  • TACTYC: the Association for Professional Development in the Early Years

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

2. For further information, contact:

Early Education (The British Association for Early Childhood Education) is the leading independent national charity for early years practitioners and parents, campaigning for the right of all children to education of the highest quality. Founded in 1923, it has members in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and provides a national voice on matters that relate to effective early childhood education and care of young children from birth to eight. The organisation supports the professional development of practitioners through publications, training, conferences, seminars and access to a national and regional branch network. For more information on the work of Early Education visit