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EYFS Curriculum 2024: From policy to outstanding practice

everything you need to know
17 min of reading
03 November 2023
EYFS curriculum - preview image

If the Early Years are where the magic happens, your EYFS curriculum is the magic preparation. Having an EYFS curriculum that sets you apart from other local nurseries may be the deciding factor for prospective parents, helping you to achieve those 2024 growth targets.

In this article, we share all you need to know about the 2024 EYFS curriculum. Beginning with what the EYFS curriculum is, the statutory documents that underpin it and lastly set you up with 7 easy steps to creating your own outstanding curriculum policy.

Let’s dive in!

In this article you will find:

    What is the EYFS curriculum?

    An EYFS curriculum is what your nursery setting decides the children will learn whilst they are with you. The required skills and areas of learning that must be covered in your setting’s curriculum is set out in the EYFS statutory framework.

    Now, some may question why the early years needs a curriculum guidance, especially when so much of the learning is experienced through play.

    As we know, even a simple play interaction holds endless development opportunities for a child across a host of learning areas. Having an EYFS curriculum ensures that children purposefully develop across the required seven areas of learning for EYFS, leaving nothing to chance and regulating the foundation experience all children receive before they begin Key Stage 1.

    Your nursery setting will have its own EYFS curriculum, that ticks off all aspects of the statutory framework requirements whilst being flexible to meet the children’s needs. This curriculum will follow the four overarching principles set out in the framework.

    Each principle has been chosen to ensure practitioners and teachers are able to offer the best learning environment for every child – inclusive practice being at the heart of implementing curriculum policy.

    The four EYFS principles that must be at the forefront of practice are:

    • Every child is unique
    • Positive relationships help children to progress
    • Enabling environments help children to learn with their own individual interests and needs
    • Learning occurs at different rates for each child

    What documents underpin the EYFS curriculum in 2024?

    All Early Years settings (including schools) follow the EYFS statutory framework, with the most recent changes brought in in September 2023. This saw changes to ratio requirements, childminder guidance on sibling care and safety guidance for mealtime supervision.

    From January 2024, the current EYFS statutory framework will be replaced by 2 separate documents.

    • EYFS statutory framework for childminders
    • EYFS statutory framework for group and school settings

    Working hand in hand with the EYFS Framework is the updated Development Matters document, designed to be used to plan your Early Years curriculum. This non-statutory document is used by nursery managers and owners to help shape their chosen curriculum.

    Another document used when creating an EYFS curriculum is the Early Learning Goals (ELG) guidance. Designed to not be used to decide what is taught in the Early Years but to assist with EYFS assessment.

    What should be taught in Early Years?

    Every Early Years setting will follow the EYFS statutory framework, this decides what is taught. There are seven areas of learning that your EYFS curriculum must include, they are split into prime and specific areas.

    EYFS curriculum - What should be taught in Early Years

    It is important to note that the most effective curriculums are tailored to meet the needs of the children. They are purposefully adapted in line with the curriculum intent (what you aim the children to know by the end of their journey with you.)

    The EYFS curriculum should be play-based, with plenty of opportunities for the children to engage with activities and experiences to develop across each area of learning.

    Let’s look into what an outstanding EYFS curriculum policy looks like, including all of the tips to writing a tailored policy to your setting.

    How to write an outstanding EYFS curriculum policy

    Your EYFS curriculum policy is a favourite amongst prospective parents. They want to see what their child will be learning and how it will be organised. There is a list of EYFS statutory policies and procedures your nursery must follow. Don’t forget, the curriculum policy should be visible on your nursery’s website.

    Top tips for writing your curriculum policy for your nursery:

    Be brief:

    Explain to your parents exactly what they need to know, what your aims are for their child’s learning, and how you plan to implement this.

    Tailor it to your setting:

    If your childcare provision is in an area of deprivation and speech and language levels are particularly low, tailor your curriculum to meet this need. If you have a forest accessible as part of your grounds, build your curriculum around this.

    Be Ofsted mindful:

    Your setting is unique because of your staff and the curriculum you decide to offer. Check that the format of your policy covers the Ofsted 3 I’s of Intent, Implementation and Impact.

    Be accessible to all parents:

    There are several acronyms and abbreviations used in education (EYFS, ELG, GLD). Make your policy accessible to all parents by explaining terms in the simplest way.

    What to include in your Early Years curriculum policy

    Ofsted evaluates your quality of education in 3 main areas: Intent, Implementation, and Impact. Organising your curriculum policy in this order for coherence can be useful. There is no set structure for you to follow when creating your EYFS curriculum policy, however here are some must-haves to include.

    EYFS Curriculum intent

    Curriculum intent is where you want to showcase your aims for what the children will learn during their time in your nursery setting. It can be useful to use a graphic-creating website such as Canva (free and paid options available) to make a visual takeaway of your curriculum in a nutshell.

    EYFS curriculum - Curriculum intent

    EYFS Curriculum design

    You will have chosen your curriculum design for a reason, underpinned by several pedagogical theories that resonate with you. Explain at the very beginning of your Early Years policy which theories drive your chosen curriculum. There are countless theories for you to choose from and it does not have to be an exhaustive list.

    Explanations can be appreciated by parents to show the style of teaching and learning their child will receive. For example, you may use the Curiosity Approach to guide the activities you prepare for the children, encouraging exploration of loose parts play to enrich the child’s learning and development.

    EYFS curriculum - Curriculum design

    EYFS Curriculum implementation

    This section explains the everyday practices that help you to achieve your intended curriculum and the vehicles that are used to actualise your curriculum vision.

    EYFS Charter and mission statement

    The mission statement and EYFS charter for your setting can summarise what each parent should expect from the staff, but should also make reference to their part in their child’s progress.

    Effective characteristics of learning

    Taken from the Development Matters government document, you may want to include how your curriculum implements the four effective characteristics of learning in Early Years.

    Don’t forget that your curriculum policy, although mainly used to showcase your provision to parents, can also be shared with staff to explain their professional expectations.

    In this section, you can explain how your curriculum is designed to develop the uniqueness of the child by getting to know their needs and interests. Show parents how they can use the child profile on your chosen parent app to submit detailed information about their child’s unique interests and needs.

    This also communicates to parents the different ways you encourage children to learn about themselves and others.

    Building positive relationships should be a vital part of your EYFS curriculum, encouraging relationships with children and adults equally. Your parents should be made aware of how your team uses learning activities to build these relationships.

    Your settling-in new children policy and information may also explain to parents how to begin initial relationships between the child and their key worker.

    Having an enabling environment means that all children are given what they need to flourish. This ties into building positive relationships and the celebration of uniqueness with the child. 

    The enabling environment should be demonstrated to the parents during their walk-around, showcasing the different tasks, role-play opportunities and learning topics you have chosen in your curriculum to enable all learners to progress. This also includes supporting children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

    Finally, share your learning and development processes with the parents, including the structure in which the learning is delivered. This section of your curriculum policy can also cover any educational programmes or schemes that are used. Which may be Phonics, Maths, communication and language or problem-solving.

    Role of adults in curriculum implementation

    Each nursery has different practices when it comes to the level of adult interaction with learning activities. In your policy, it can be useful to explain if your setting is an advocate for child-led learning or if they have a mixture of adult interaction and self-driven play.

    Parental involvement in your eyfs curriculum

    This is the first step on their educational journey, and it’s important to set a positive tone for nursery and home interaction. Parental involvement can include their input into choices of policy and procedure in your childcare setting or can be physical participation in nursery-based activities.

    Keep your parents updated with the topic of learning through the child’s learning diary in your Blossom Parent App.

    Inclusion (SEND and EAL) in the EYFS

    Explain your local offer for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in your setting. For example, a staff member in your setting could be fluent in British Sign Language (BSL) and their skills are regularly used across the curriculum. Or you may work hard to make your nursery Autism-friendly, sharing how different sensory play strategies are used to support additional needs. 

    Describe how you support families who are English additional language (EAL) in this section, and cater to the needs of your families by sharing information via your parent app that is visual. Using images and videos) helps your nursery to overcome the language barrier.

    Curriculum Impact

    Signs of curriculum impact

    This section will link to your aims of intent for your children’s learning, how will you know the curriculum you have designed will be a success? It might not be through baseline and measurable assessments but through confidence levels, improved resilience, and social interaction with peers.

    7 steps to an outstanding EYFS curriculum for your nursery

    Each Early Years provider should have a bespoke curriculum that meets their needs: there is no one-size-fits-all. To create an EYFS curriculum you should consider how you and your team will:

    Assess children: explain the how and why

    Be inclusive, in every meaning of the word

    Develop cultural capital for all

    Vary the levels of social demand and interaction

    Promote a love for reading

    Develop emotional resilience in your children

    Get your parents and carers involved

    Assessment and the Early Years curriculum

    Children are assessed at the end of reception using their EYFS profile (they’re also assessed at ages 2 and 3.) These assessments are to give a baseline for their future progress to be compared throughout their journey in primary school.

    In your curriculum policy, include information about the assessments you use and importantly why you use them. To assess a child’s progress in line with the 7 areas of learning, observations and evidence recording are the main methods rather than a scaled-score assessment. 

    You can easily add observations and evidence into their own digital learning journeys, showing parents their progress and using evidence as a basis for assessment.

    Inclusion in your nursery

    There shouldn’t be an add-on option for an inclusive activity, inclusive practice in the Early Years should underpin all activities in your curriculum. True inclusive practice in a nursery is the recognition of the barriers to learning and accessibility of tasks, and altering to meet the needs rather than altering a task for the individual child.

    An example of this would be the use of story time, when supporting toddlers who are demonstrating ADHD characteristics, sitting still for extended periods of time can be a real challenge. Instead of altering storytime for that child, adapt the story time to include physical movements, drama and interaction with the story.

    Inclusion is a broad term and covers additional needs, English additional language (EAL) and everything in between. Know your families well and recognise the inclusivity that may be needed in your curriculum.

    Create ‘wow!’ moments and develop cultural capital

    What does cultural capital mean in the Early Years? It is preparing and delivering opportunities for children to experience the world around them first-hand. Children learn through experience, yet they experience different levels of enrichment outside the nursery. Your curriculum should endeavour to close the experience gap for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    How to vary the levels of social demand and interaction

    For most children, the nursery is the first setting where they are challenged socially. Having to share toys and activities with multiple children and turn-taking can be challenging or overwhelming.

    Varying the levels of social demand for the activities and experiences they will participate in throughout the day will help children slowly build their communication and language skills. Use EYFS PSED activities to offer opportunities to learn about themselves and others.

    Promote a love for reading in the Early Years

    Even though the EYFS curriculum is underpinned by play and not formal reading and writing activities, there must still be the opportunity to develop a love for early reading in nursery.  Storytime should be a staple part of your daily routine.

    Be creative with implementing storytime in your nursery. Use visual stimulation, introduce story stones to make your own narrative, and read a breadth of traditional and modern stories with a diverse representation celebrated throughout.

    Phonics development should be considered when planning your curriculum. You may wish to use a scheme or programme of study if you feel they meet the needs of your children and setting. Take care to avoid the common mistakes made when choosing a Phonics scheme.

    Develop emotional resilience in the Early Years

    Emotional resilience and self-regulation are important for developing mentally healthy habits. Your Early Years curriculum should introduce conflict resolution strategies, empathy for others and model these social skills with other practitioners and children regularly. It can be important to share with parents the intention to praise the effort rather than the outcome to build resilience. This can be a simple recognition change that can build emotional resilience when faced with challenges.

    Parental involvement in the Early Years

    Parental engagement in the Early Years is impactful for a toddler’s progression. Studies have shown that with increased parental engagement comes improvements in reading and phonics skills.

    To build positive home-nursery relationships, digital nursery software can be used to help share insight into what children learn at nursery. This window into the nursery day can give parents inspiration for activities to try at home and include them in their child’s learning.

    Your Early Years curriculum will be tailored to the needs of your families and children, making use of the facilities and resources you have around your nursery setting whilst providing a broad and balanced learning offer.

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