Westminster Education Forum

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Next steps for early years education in England - EYFS implementation, the workforce, inspection, and the impact of COVID-19

February 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference focuses on the next steps for early years education in England and implementation of the newly reformed EYFS framework.

The agenda also looks at:

  • key issues for the sector and its workforce going forward
  • inspection of early years settings, under the new framework and during the pandemic
  • the impact of the pandemic itself on early years education

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DfE; the Government Legal Department; the NAO and Ofsted.

The agenda

  • Assessing early years provision in England - key challenges and the experience of the pandemic
  • ‘The role of innovation in closing the school readiness gap’
  • Supporting the sector moving forward and workforce priorities - coping with demand, resources and funding issues, and staff recruitment, pay and career development
  • Inspecting early years settings under the reformed EYFS framework
  • Implementing the reformed EYFS framework - lessons from the early adopters, improving literacy and mathematics skills, and impact on staff workload and assessment
  • ‘Bringing evidence-based language approaches to the Early Years’

Key areas for discussion:

  • funding - how to address the key financial issues facing the sector, with some nurseries facing severe financial difficulty or risking closure due to decreased demand for childcare during lockdowns
  • early language skills - assessing:
    • varying approaches to how they can be improved, particularly to catch up on learning time lost during the pandemic
    • government support measures being offered
  • the workforce - what more can be done in the areas of:
    • pay - discussing support for those in the sector who are struggling financially
    • professional development - including addressing low qualification levels, as well as assessing the impact of the recently-introduced Education and Childcare T Level
    • recruitment - tackling immediate and long term problems, including the recruitment of well qualified staff, particularly with the sector having an ageing workforce
    • diversity - with the makeup of the sector being 96% female (and 40% under 30), how to tackle gender imbalance and provide more male role models for younger pupils
  • the reformed EYFS framework:
    • early adopter schools - the experience of those taking part in the trials of the new framework this year, and what has been learned
    • preparing for full launch - with some questioning the need for reform, and looking at how the sector is adapting to the prospect of the new framework becoming statutory in September
    • the curriculum - assessing concerns from some practitioners in areas such as:
      • the increased focus of the reformed EYFS on improving language, literacy and maths skills leading to a narrowing of the curriculum and making it too formal
      • the decision to remove shape, space and measures from the EYFS risking spatial awareness being neglected by teachers
  • assessment - with local authorities set to no longer be required to moderate EYFS profile assessments by teachers, discussion is expected on ways to ensure:
    • practitioners can accurately evaluate and provide evidence of children’s progress in the early years goals without this leading to excessive paperwork
    • the framework achieves its aim to ensure that children are not being classified as failing and leaving some, for example those with SEND or EAL, feeling excluded and unable to achieve the goals

Relevant developments:

  • Early adopter schools: EYFS framework - the recently published draft for providers taking part in the early adopter year ahead of the full roll-out of the reformed framework in September 2021
  • Ofsted announces new early years inspection arrangements:
    • introduced as a more proportionate and flexible approach to inspecting nurseries and childminders
    • focusing on inspecting those rated less than ‘good’ and where there are significant concerns
  • Children hardest hit by COVID-19 pandemic are regressing in basic skills and learning - Ofsted’s recently published findings on the pandemic’s impact on some children of all ages and backgrounds
  • Children’s Commissioner for England calls on Government to make early years central to COVID fightback with a new ‘Best Beginnings’ guarantee - recommending reform and increased funding
  • government allocations of emergency funding for the sector, including:
    • Early years support package to help close COVID language gap - £9m for early language skills and £23m for Maintained Nursery Schools in the 2021 summer term
    • Business rates: nursery (childcare) discount 2020 to 2021 - a business rates holiday for many childcare providers in 2020-2021
  • Alliance calls for £240m early years funding in Spending Review - the Early Years Alliance proposing an Early Years Sufficiency Fund for childcare providers that are at risk of closure
  • The stability of the early years workforce in England - the Social Mobility Commission finding a severe impact on staff due to low pay, high workload and lack of career development
  • The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services - the Education Committee’s current inquiry

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education; the Government Legal Department; the National Audit Office and Ofsted. Also due to attend are representatives from A Better Start Southend/Early Years Alliance; Bath Spa University; Bradford Council; Cambridgeshire County Council; CGP Books; Crossens Nursery School; Diocese of Chichester Education Dept; Durham County Council; Education Endowment Foundation; Education Policy Institute; Hayes Park School; Kirkham Grammar Junior Infant and Pre-School; Kirklees Council; Lincolnshire County Council; MERYC England Charity No 1169504; Newcastle School for Boys; Norfolk County Council; Norland College; Oxfordshire County Council; Pregnant Then Screwed; Reach Early Years Education Consultancy; Royal Borough of Greenwich; Sheffield City Council; South Gloucestershire Council; St. Columbas College; Talking Tots; The Education People; The Learning Institute; The Peterborough School; University of Edinburgh and White Rose Maths.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles