Inspection and the early years’ curriculum – a guide for practitioners in the EYFS


10th December 2021

Inspection and the early years’ curriculum – a guide for practitioners in the EYFS

The revised Ofsted framework came into force in September 2019 with a sharper focus on curriculum and the quality of education. In this article, EYFS adviser, Gill Quantrell, explores curriculum requirements in the early years, inspection myths and sets out how the new Cornerstones early years projects can support you.

Inspection and the early years’ curriculum – a guide for practitioners in the EYFS

Inspection and early years curriculum

When evaluating the quality of early years education in schools, inspectors will consider the early years’ curriculum intent, implementation, and impact and how well it meets all children’s needs. Crucially, inspectors will also want to know that subject leaders across the school understand the links with the early years’ curriculum and their subjects.

Inspection myths

There has been a lot of concern in the sector about whether schools need to produce detailed curriculum maps. Ofsted recently published a document, The EYFS in Schools, to answer questions and put early years leaders and practitioners at ease. Here’s a brief look at some frequently asked questions and myths.

Curriculum maps

The EYFS in Schools clarifies that there is no need for schools to produce curriculum maps for each area of learning. However, teachers and leaders need to be clear about how the curriculum in the early years gives children ‘foundational knowledge and understanding’.

Early years teaching should lay the foundations for learning and provide children with knowledge and vocabulary to access the curriculum as they progress through school. There is no specific format for curriculum models, but they should be progressive and well-sequenced to build children’s skills and knowledge as they journey through school.

Deep dives

Some early years teachers have questioned whether the new ‘deep dives’ into national curriculum subjects require them to teach specific ‘history’ or ‘geography’ lessons. The National Curriculum does not start in the EYFS, so inspectors won’t expect or want to see discreet teaching in ‘deep dive’ subjects. However, inspectors will look at the educational programmes in the EYFS to discover how ‘foundational knowledge’ and key vocabulary forms a natural part of learning in the early years. Subject leaders must understand the EYFS seven areas of learning and early years teachers need to know how their curriculum supports later learning.

Tracking progress

The change from a data-led Ofsted to one that focuses on the curriculum has left teachers concerned about what information to collect and how to track pupil progress. Some have questioned whether they should be tracking learning against the revised Development Matters. It is important to remember that Development Matters is a curriculum model and not a list to tick off. Ofsted also clarified that they do not expect to see progress data. Moreover, the inspection handbook explains that any assessment should not take adults away from the crucial interactions with children.

Helping you to meet the new Ofsted requirements

It has taken two years of development to create the new EYFS curriculum here at Cornerstones. Over those two years, we have collaborated with schools to discover what they want and need from an early years’ curriculum. Our curriculum is built on strong early years pedagogy to support all children to succeed.

Cornerstones’ projects are rich with language, stories and vocabulary

Research shows that,

‘Language provides the foundation of thinking and learning and should be prioritised.’

Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) report Preparing for Literacy

Communication and language are at the heart of the new Cornerstones early years curriculum, with each of the child-friendly projects built around quality stories and rhymes that promote talk.

The curriculum model is carefully sequenced and progresses throughout the year. It builds children’s knowledge and vocabulary and prepares them for their learning in Year 1 and beyond. The autumn term projects in each sequence provide plenty of activities to develop children’s skills in the Prime areas and lay solid foundations for their learning. The summer term projects offer extra challenge for reception children whilst maintaining an early years’ ethos.

Adapting and editing the curriculum

The Cornerstones early years projects provide an ambitious, carefully sequenced, language-rich curriculum for all children. As with all of the Cornerstones’ projects, schools can customise them according to the interests and needs of their class.

Maestro’s online platform now contains CurriculumPRO. CurriculumPRO enables you to view and articulate the narrative of a subject and see how knowledge and vocabulary are introduced and built on as children journey through the curriculum. The projects are designed around the educational programmes, but CurriculumPro clearly shows the links between the early years’ statutory framework and the national curriculum. CurriculumPRO supports you to view and explain how foundational knowledge and understanding in the early years develops in Year 1 and beyond.

For more information about Cornerstones early years projects, you can contact us on 03333 20 8000 or book a personalised demo here:

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