Following six months of consultation and input from across the early years sector, the Early Years Coalition tonight launches Birth to 5 Matters.

The materials include a core document available as a free download, with printed copies available to purchase, and an interactive online version which includes all the text from the core document, plus additional resources, suggestions for further reading, and a bibliography.

Dr Karen Boardman, Head of Early Years Education at Edge Hill, has been involved in the project.

Dr Boardman said: “It is such a privilege to be supporting early years practitioners and future practitioners with their provision at all levels. Birth to Five Matters is important because from conception onwards all members of the Birth to Five Matters group are listening and carefully considering the views of the whole sector – a compassionate process. The document is focused on how children develop and learn, to support the Statutory EYFS. We have built in many points for practitioners to feedback to us.

“We have encouraged all our EHU students and staff to ‘get involved’ and to share their opinions via focus group discussions and these have been incorporated into the document. It is very exciting to be launching this document and we are very proud of our involvement.”

“We are delighted to offer this support to the early years sector as they look ahead to implementing the revised EYFS from September,” said Beatrice Merrick, Chair of the Early Years Coalition. “It is a rich resource which will support knowledge of child development and how children learn, and help practitioners make their own professional judgements about meeting the needs of the children they work with.” 

Although Birth to 5 Matters builds on previous non-statutory guidance for the EYFS, it has updated all the material to reflect research evidence and meet the needs of practitioners today.  It outlines the foundations of good practice and offers information and guidance for practitioners to consider how the Principles of the EYFS can be brought to life in their setting. New sections on play, characteristics of effective learning, and self-regulation are designed to help practitioners to reflect on and develop their own pedagogy.  

“The guidance includes detailed examples of trajectories of development and learning in all the prime and specific areas,” says Nancy Stewart, Project Lead.  “The need for this information to support child development knowledge came through very clearly in our consultations.”   

But she cautions that a new mindset is needed across the sector, to move away from a checklist approach that takes practitioners away from being with children. “If settings have been using previous guidance as a checklist, they should not see Birth to 5 Matters as a replacement to be used in that way,” she says.  “Instead, it is a support for informed professional judgement that will help practitioners move to a new way of understanding and supporting children’s learning, with a minimalist approach to recording assessment.’ 

The Early Years Coalition is currently planning for training materials and events to introduce practitioners to using Birth to 5 Matters, as well as to support professional development in areas that have been highlighted through the consultations.  

The launch at 7pm on Wednesday 31 March will be streamed live at https://www.facebook.com/birthto5matters, and a recording of the event will be available after the launch at https://www.birthto5matters.org.uk/.