Our third major online survey (12-26 February 2021) offered the chance to read and respond to the second draft of the Birth to 5 Matters core document.
Among the 371 respondents, there was detailed comment relating to all aspects of the document, with nearly 700 individual comments to be considered for the final version of the guidance – with around half of those applauding the document so far.
There was also significant endorsement of the approach to development and learning trajectories, identified by “ranges” with a separate key to typical age links.
In preparation for the launch and rollout of Birth to 5 Matters at the end of March, we also asked about what format people would be likely to use to access the guidance, and about needs for professional development.
There were many enthusiastic responses to the draft:
“I absolutely loved reading this guidance, it resonated with my beliefs and approaches. Whilst an experienced practitioner it still allowed me to reflect on current practice & where improvements could be made. I think it will be so valuable to our less experienced practitioners & I hope training organisations for early years practitioners take note & start improving their training in line with this. Thank you to everyone involved!!!!!”
” This is a really excellent document which will support and inspire practitioners.”
“It is a very well thought out document which will support all practitioners to implement quality EYFS education.”
“Great job! I really value how the whole sector, no matter their level, have been welcomed in shaping this guidance.”
“The guidance reflects the skills of specialists working in different settings, a positive approach.”
“It is very informative. Makes me feel more valued as it seems to talk our language and shows exactly what we do. It is also not that dissimilar from the format of the previous Development Matters that we use to monitor and track children’s progress. It seems a lot more practical and we could implement it.”
You can read a detailed breakdown of the questions and response.
Here is what we heard from the survey, and how we are responding.
There were many comments on each area of the guidance – in each section, between 4% and 10% of the respondents made a comment and roughly half of those were simply expressing appreciation. The other comments were suggestions for improvements.
We will consider each suggestion for the final revision, working together with our expert Working Groups.
The great majority think the approach to presenting ranges of development and learning in the trajectories, with a separate key to typical overlapping age bands, meets our aims and is an improvement on the previous approach (82-91%). Only 3-7% disagreed that the approach will be effective and is an improvement over the previous version, with the remainder neutral.
There were some comments expressing confusion or concerns about how it may be used as ticklists, and how to show progress.
We will use the ranges with an age-linked key. We will consider presentation of the approach to explain it clearly. The Early Years Coalition is considering how to support implementation with professional development opportunities.
There is significant interest in professional development to support using Birth to 5 Matters, as a general introduction, for leaders and managers, and in specific areas.
The Early Years Coalition is developing an approach to training and professional development opportunities which will be available after the launch of Birth to 5 Matters.
Most people would like a hard copy of the guidance (80%), while the online version is also popular (61%). There is also interest in accessing the guidance through an app (49%).
The Early Years Coalition will make printed copies available, along with a free downloadable pdf, and an interactive website version which will also contain links to further information and evidence. Several app providers are interested in making Birth to 5 Matters available on their platforms, and discussions are ongoing.
There is some uncertainty about how Birth to 5 Matters sits alongside the statutory EYFS and other guidance, and concern that there could be confusion for practitioners.
We will send clear messages in all our communications about how Birth to 5 Matters supports practitioners to implement all aspects of the statutory EYFS and is not in conflict with it. We will explain the reasons for the structure used, and assure practitioners that both Ofsted and DfE confirm that they may choose to use any non-statutory guidance which they find useful.