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EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE

Introduction:

The Early Years Foundation Stage [EYFS] is the statutory framework that is mentioned in Section 39 of the Childcare Act 2006 developed by the British government. EYFS is the highly effective childhood curriculum in England that sets the standard for the learning, care and development of children from their birth to 5 years. This study will discuss the development and evolution of EFYS from 1996 onwards. In this section, the study is going to discuss that through what changes the EYFS framework went and how the early year education framework in ancient UK had been transformed into the modern EYFS curriculum. This study has selected another popular childhood curriculum, Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) of USA. Then the study will discuss why the observation of children's learning and development through the EYFS framework is important. This study will also discuss the observation methods that are available in EYFS setting in England. The essay will demonstrate the inclusion issues in the EYFS setting that can affect the overall assessment process.

Analysis of the evolution of EYFS and its comparison with another curriculum: (LO 1)

The EYFS had gone through several changes in the policies, practices and legislation throughout its journey from 1996 to the modern world. It is evident that during early 1996, the British government published the Desirable Outcomes for Children Learning ((Nicolastobbs and Reed, 2017). During this year the British Government also launched the Nursery Voucher Scheme based on the written, memorandum sent by British Association of Early Childhood Education (BAECE) to the Education and Employment Committee. As mentioned by Mukadam and Kaur (2016), during the late nineteenth century British government emphasized on establishing a well-constructed and highly-organised education curriculum that will promote positive academic and behavioural development in children. During the end of the nineteenth century, the EYFS framework passed through effective modifications such as Hundred Language of Children Exhibition was conducted and the goals of the British Association of Early Childhood Education (BAECE) had been changed with the increasing emphasis on quality and diversity in early year education. According to Mukadam and Kaur (2016), During the late nineteenth century, the British government emphasized on making innovative changes in the EYFS curriculum which can meet the diverse learning and behavioural needs of children. Evidence suggests that during 1998, the 'quality of diversity concept has been established in England. As mentioned by Mcevoy (2019), the concept of ‘quality of diversity’ had been presented by the National Children Burau. The intention behind establishing this framework was to enable practitioners to understand, think and support the learning needs of children from their birth to 5 years. As mentioned by Street (2020), the concept “quality of Diversity” had been built to enable the different people working in the different academic setting to share their language, opinion and strategies regarding children’s learning and development. Through this shared decision-making, practitioners from diverse background can better understand the process of how child learn. In 2001, the Department of Education and Skill Development had set a guidance, the Sure Start guidance that included three matters. In this context, Rawstrone (2018) argued that, although the Sure Start guidance had been developed by British Government, this could not be properly implemented due to lack of resources and poor infrastructure in the academic field. Then during 2008, the review of Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage (2000) had been advocated and since then, the revised format of EYFS had come into practice.

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In 2011, the report of Clare Tickell on the review of the Early Year’s Foundation Stage had stabled the concept, ‘The Early Years - Foundations for Life, Health and Learning’ (Rawstrone, 2017). Clare Tickell recommended different aspects such as the importance of parent’s involvement in the children’s education and entitlement of children into a balanced and well-constructed curriculum. She also highlighted the three major areas of development such as personal, communication and physical development of children.

In 2012 four principles are developed to shape the activity and effeteness of EYFS in promoting lemming and behavioural development in children. These four principles are:

  • Each child needs to be considered unique who requires continuous learning and development (Mcevoy, 2019). The child can be capable, resilient, self-assured and confident
  • Children will be provided with a positive and supportive environment in which their individual needs are met
  • Children must be taught how to be independent and strong in any situation. They are trained to make a positive relationship with the surrounding people (Mukadam and Kaur, 2015).
  • Children learn and develop through different learning processes and at different rates.

Like EYFS in England, the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework [ELOF] sets the standard for curriculum planning and teaching in the USA (Gregoriadis et al. 2016). Similar to EYFS, the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework [ELOF] focuses on promoting positive behavioural and learning development in children from birth to 5 years (McCrory and Gatt, 2020). ELOF has a total of five domains based on which practitioners work to foster children in school and life. These domains are approaches to learning, emotional and social development, language and literature, cogitation, and motor, physical and perceptual development (Ang et al. 2017). Unlike ELOF, the EYFS has seven specific domains including physical development, social development, language as well as communication skill development, design, art, mathematics and understand the world. As mentioned by Cowley (2020), while comparing the EYFS with any other curriculum in other countries it can be stated that EYFS sets the most well-constructed and modern curriculum that focuses on determining how children can learn and develop their positive behaviour. Like EYFS the ELOF has the practical guidelines for each domain that are based on four components such as see, know, do and improve (Nursery, 2018). Early year practitioners in the USA need to follow these four assessment guidelines while working on children's needs. As mentioned by Vlasov and Hujala (2017), through using these four aspects, early year practitioners in the USA can better understand the learning and development of the children which assist them to set such as care and education plan that is highly relevant to specific needs of that particular child. Unlike EYFS, in the USA the ELOF sets the Practices Based coaching (PBC) that establishes the domain-specific teaching processes in the country (Ang et al. 2017). It is evident that, in the modern academic world, the PBC is highly effective in case of children to evaluate their ever-changing learning and developmental needs. In the USA early years practitioners work on three areas while providing care and academic support to children (McCrory and Gatt, 2020). These areas are set the goals, emphasize overhauling the observation and evaluation or reflection of the entire process. Unlike EYFS, the ELOF has the Implementation Toolkit that guides the practitioners to carry out the proper alignment process thereby helping the program to promote children’s cognitive, behavioural, social and emotional development (Vlasov and Hujala, 2017). There are Effective Practices Guide in ELOF system, which has the principles that the early years practitioners have to follow to ensure that children are provided with a well-constricted and modern environment at the school which will promote their positive learning and development in all the domain.

Discussing the use of the assessment in EYFS and roles of observation considering the ethical issues (LO2)

As mentioned by Chan and Ritchie (2016), the accurate and reliable assessment at the end of the EYFS is generally underpinned by several principles that practitioners must follow in terms of promoting children’s development. These principles are as follows:

  • The accurate and reliable assessment in EYFS is mainly based on the knowledge and understanding of practitioners regarding the child’s academic and development needs (Mitchell and Coll, 2017). Practitioners can gain this knowledge from the observation of a range of regular activities of children and interaction with children and their parents.
  • There must be a responsible and highly realistic pedagogy for children that will assist the provision to enable children to demonstrate their developmental and learning needs freely (Clerke et al. 2017).
  • Practitioners must assess what a child can perform independently and consistently on daily basis (Mcevoy, 2019). Through assessing the individual activities of the children the practitioners will be able to gather a better understanding of which types of learning processed, care and academic support the child needs
  • An effective assessment in EYFS will present the holistic view of the learning and development of a child. According to Knettel et al. (2017), in EYFS system early years practitioners must have such assessment practitioners that will enable them to promote the holistic development of children. Holistic developed is underpinned by promoting the cognitive, behavioural, physical, social, emotional and spiritual development.

As mentioned by Clerke et al. (2017), assessment in EYFS is highly important that enables the early year's practitioners to assess the learning and development needs of children. Evidence suggests that, through carrying out the well-organised assessment process, practitioners can understand what the children have learned and understood in the EYFS. There are different types of assessment in EYFS that are carried out by practitioners to assess the learning and development of each child.

Responsible pedagogy:

Responsible pedagogy is crucial in EYFS that enables children to learn in realistic and modern techniques that can develop their intelligence and cognitive skill (Nicolastobbs and Reed, 2017). The setting of a responsible pedagogy is based on how effectively the assessment information is used to develop a motivating and relevant learning plan for a child. As mentioned by Rawstrone (2018), the effective and highly organised assessment can be carried out when children are provided with the environment in which they can demonstrate the actual development, learning and understanding.

Children must be provided with a rich learning environment in which they would be provided with the opportunity to flourish their skills, abilities and expertise in every aspect. As stated by Nicolastobbs and Reed (2017) based on the effective assessment process, a modern and realistic pedagogy can be developed in which all the aspects of learning and development can be covered. The assessment in EYFS would be carried out in such a manner which will enable the practitioners to develop a realistic pedagogy that will respect each child as the individual thereby valuing his or her interest, effort and purpose. As mentioned by Mukadam and Kaur (2016), respecting children’s autonomy, their preferences and interest are instrumental to develop the successful learning system for children.

Observational assessment:

Observation assessment is considered as one of the most effective processes to understand and know what the child understands, knows and does throughout the day (Nicolastobbs and Reed, 2017). This assessment process is based on gaining an in-depth understanding of children's learning and development by interacting with, listening and watching children engaged in their regular activities. As stated by Rawstrone (2017), through direct observation of children’s regular activities, practitioners are enabled to determine not only their learning needs but also their psychology, preferences and emotion. Observational assessment is considered the most reliable and effective way of capturing an accurate picture of children's activities (Mukadam and Kaur, 2015). Through carrying out this assessment practitioners can observe whether there is any change in children’ behaviour and their way of interaction with their peers and teachers during their day-to-day activities. As mentioned by Mcevoy (2019), the observational assessment is highly effective as it enables the practitioners to capture all the important moments of children and then analysing the observation to gain a better understanding of children's needs.

Considering the ethical issues of observation:

Observation in EYFS leads the practitioners to gain an in-depth understanding of children's needs and development (Cronin and Argent, 2017). Through observing children's activities on daily basis, early year partitioners can develop effective pedagogy in terms of meeting these needs of children. As mentioned by Gregoriadis et al. (2016), the observational assessment in EYFS is associated wit some ethical issues that early years practitioners need to overcome to promote the positive development of children.

One of the most common ethical issues that practitioners need to considers while assessing children’s learning and development needs is the conflict between the child's autonomy and the practitioner's ethics. Knettel et al. (2017) mentioned that sometimes respecting a child's autonomy and preferences interfere with implementing effective curriculum for the children thereby hampering their learning and development. For example, many children are so stubborn that they stick to such activities that can hurt them such as jumping on stairs or playing with the harmful object or playing video games all the day (Cook, et al. 2016). In that case, practitioners have to divert the concentration children forcefully from these objectives which can interfere with the child’s autonomy and rights.

Another ethical issue is the embedded learning as well as the secure environment for children which sometimes is not relevant to the actual learning and development needs of children. According to Hardy et al. (2018), practitioners must ensure that the pedagogy and the curriculum developed during EYFS, must be relevant to the individual learning and developmental needs of each child. It is evident that in many cases an average and more or less similar learning regimes are developed for all the children rather than setting up a specific learning environment based on their individual needs (Polisenska et al. 2020). This can interfere with the ethics and principles of EYFS.

Lack of competence of practitioners to link the areas of learning to children’s developmental needs can raise several ethical issues. As mentioned by Underwood et al. (2016), there is a strong relationship between the practitioner’s competence and effective children assessment. Early years practitioners must be enough competent to link the assessment process to the learning and development needs of children in terms of providing the opportunities to each child in which the child car demonstrate the learning and development needs. According to the Polisenska et al. (2020), the lack of skill of practitioners in determining the learning and developmental needs of children make them unable to form a highly effective and realistic pedagogy that can meet all these needs.

Lack of contribution to the assessment can interfere with the accuracy of the assessment process which can raise the ethical issues. As stated by Polisenska et al. (2020), carrying out an accurate assessment framework mainly depends on different ranges of contributions of different people, such as participation of children, their parents and practitioners. Practitioners’ inability to promote the active involvement of parents and children in the observational assessment interfere with the overall outcomes of the observation.

Practitioners knowledge is highly important in carrying out an effective observational assessment in EYFS (Knettel et al. 2017). The lack of competence and professional knowledge of practitioners can raise the chances of their inability to follow the EYFS principles while carrying out the observational assessment thereby leading to the ethical issues. As stated by Hardy et al. (2018), most of the EYFS profile analysis comes from the in-depth knowledge of practitioners regarding child’s needs that they gain through observing children’s activities. Evidence suggests that practitioners need to be enough competent to develop good knowledge in the individual learning and developmental needs of children through carrying out day to -day interaction with them (Nicolastobbs and Reed, 2017). Lack of knowledge of practitioners interferes with the trustworthiness and validity of the assessment framework.

Focusing on the inclusion issues in both curricula that can affect the overall assessment process (LO 3):

While implementing the principles of early years curriculum such as EYFS or ELOF into practices to carry out a well-organised assessment of children’ needs, practitioners may face different inclusion issues. As mentioned by Nicolastobbs and Reed (2017) these inclusion issues affect the overall outcomes of the assessment process. These issues are as follows:

While assessing the needs of children with Special Education Needs and Disability early years practitioners in the UK and USA face challenges in maintaining the accuracy in recording the children’s activities and analysing the observational results (Mukadam and Kaur, 2016). Children with special education needs and disability (SEND) has ranges of needs such as emotional, psychological, physical, learning and sensory needs. As stated by Mcevoy (2019), although observation assessment is an effective way to determine the children’s needs, children with SEND cannot properly demonstrate their development and learning. Evidence suggests that practitioners while carrying out the observational assessment in case of children with SEND face severe interruption in capturing the important moment of children. This is because the children most of the times are unable to express their preferences, needs and difficulties they face (Rawstrone, 2018). Therefore, in both the EYFS and ELOF, early year practitioners must be enough competent to have the patience to make with interaction with the children to understand their psychology, and needs.

Early years practitioners in EYFS and ELOF face inclusion issues in case children whose home language is other than English. Here early years practitioners face the communication barriers. As stated by Rawstron (2017), the effectiveness of an assessment process in EYFS or ELOF is based on how perfectly the early year practitioners can make day-to-day interaction with children. In the case of children with different home language there develops a communicational gap between the practitioners and children which makes the practitioners unable to gain the in-depth understanding about what are the children’s learning and developmental needs. As mentioned by Mcevoy (2019), early years practitioners must determine the home-language of the child and any educational experiences of the child elsewhere. Both the ELOF and EYFS practitioners must respect the language diversity of children thereby trying to use nonverbal interaction process to reduces the communication gaps between them. As argued by McCrory and Gatt (2020), in observation assessment, the non-verbal communication cannot assist practitioners to develop a strong understanding of children’s need. Here early years practitioners must use the simple and small sentences in English that the children can easily understand. As mentioned by Mukadam and Kaur (2015), to deal with communicational barriers with children, practitioners need to focus on three major aspects such as developing children understanding of their home language improving their knowledge in using and understanding the English language and train them to have good communication skill.

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Ethnicity plays an important role in setting the behaviour attitude and psychology of children. Ethnicity is a potential inclusion criterion in the early year's curriculum that affects the result of the children's assessment (McCrory and Gatt, 2020). Evidence shows children from the minority communities have different behaviour, psychology and skills that create difficulties for early years practitioners to determine the actual developmental and learning needs of children.

Conclusion:

From the overall discussion, it can be concluded that EYFS sets the standards for the early year learning and development for children. There are principles of EYFS, which need to be followed by early years practitioners to gain an in-depth understanding of the learning and developmental needs of children. ELOF is the statutory framework that sets the learning and educational standard for the children in the USA. Both the EYFS and ELOF have some similarities and dissimilarities, but the main goal of these two frameworks is to provide the opportunity to children in which they can demonstrate their learning and development. Early years practitioners can face several ethical issues while carrying out the observation assessment of children’s developmental and learning needs. Practitioners need to be enough competent and knowledgeable to manage these issues and meet the children’s learning and developmental needs accordingly.

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