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Essential tips to help prepare for the revised EYFS 2021

date April 27, 2021Maureen Hunt

What is changing with the revised EYFS?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) reforms and the new EYFS framework became statutory in England in September 2021 [i]. It is intended that the reforms will support the social mobility ambitions of the government and improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged children to narrow development gaps at school entry.

The reforms are also designed to reduce the bureaucracy in early years assessment and planning, allowing practitioners more time to spend developing a broad and rich curriculum, focusing on the needs of the children in their care. The new framework also incorporates specific Reception Year guidance and revised Early Learning Goals (ELGs) to ensure children have strong foundations and are ready to begin the National Curriculum in Year 1.

Change always stirs up some anxiety but the good news is that much has stayed the same – the look and feel of the new framework is familiar and that should support you to feel confident. You will still see:

  • The seven areas of learning and development.
  • The distinction between prime and specific areas.
  • The characteristics of effective teaching and learning (COETL)
  • The overarching principles that the ‘unique child’, ‘positive relationships’ and ‘enabling environments’ lead to learning and development.

Childminder with children

However, there are quite a few changes, some of which appear quite subtle, for example, words removed or changed which, in some cases, alters the meaning in a much bigger way. No doubt you will have heard and read a lot of information already and you are not alone if you are left feeling confused and unsure of where to start. Many people have expressed concerns about assessment, supporting children with SEND, the new ELGs, baseline assessment [ii], and the creeping formalisation of the curriculum. How much of this is based on truth and how much has been whipped up by social media is often unclear.

It will take you some time to absorb the new framework and understand the implications for you in your setting.


As well as the new framework the DfE has published new non-statutory guidance – Development Matters [iii] that looks and feels very different to the 2012 document.

There is also another guidance document Birth to 5 Matters [iv] that has been developed by the Early Years Coalition and published by Early Education. Plans are in place for exemplar materials to support the changes, but not likely to be available very soon as the pandemic has delayed the training programmes.

Asian children with childminder

Essential tips to help prepare for the revised EYFS 2021

So, what should you be doing now to prepare? Where do you start and what guidance should you use?

  • Do a direct comparison between the existing and the new framework and if you’re working in a team, discuss the differences internally. Listen to everyone’s views and concerns and allow people time to think.
  • Make a plan about what you need to change and how you will make the changes.
  • Think about who you need to talk to – parents, schools, the local authority?
  • Identify areas that are ‘quick wins’ and implement them now.
  • Take your time with ‘weightier’ issues such as assessment or referrals.
  • Brush up on your child development knowledge.
  • Do what you think is right for you and your children.
  • Advocate for the child – keep them at the centre of all you do.
  • Access our EYFS 2021 hub with all the resources you need just a click away.

Watch our EYFS webinars

Subscribe to Kinderly Learn and get up to date with the latest EYFS changes. On this webinar recording, Maureen explores the changes to the EYFS, considers what the available guidance offers and supports you to think about how you will get ready for the changes, one step at a time.

The webinar will address:

  1. The intention of the reforms
  2. An overview of the key changes
  3. Review of the guidance documents
  4. Knowing and assessing children
  5. Getting everyone on board

revised eyfs 2021 webinar collection


[i] Department for Education (2021). Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

[ii] Standards and Testing Agency (2020). Assessment Framework, Reception Baseline Assessment.

[iii] Department for Education (2021). Development Matters.

[iv] Early Years Coalition (2021). Birth to 5 Matters.


Maureen Hunt photo

About Maureen

Maureen Hunt is an independent education consultant specialising in early years. She taught for over 20 years in nursery and infant schools and spent 15 years in leadership roles. Maureen is currently the Early Years Lead for Achievement for All where she is responsible for the design and the delivery of their award-winning early years programme “Achieving Early”. Maureen holds a BEd, a master’s degree in Education Management, the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination and the National Professional Qualification for Headship.

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