A consideration of the principles and practice that underpin the Early Years Foundation Stage and how the current framework relates to young children's needs and interests

Essay 2014 10 Pages

Pedagogy - Nursery Pedagogy, Early Childhood Education




Principle 1- Every Child is Unique

Principle 2- Children become strong and independent through positive relationships

Principle 3- Children learn and develop well in ‘enabling’ environments

Principle 4- Children develop and learn in different ways and rates




DfE (2013a) enunciates that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a set of statutory guidelines which all childcare providers (including schools, nurseries and children’s centres) must adhere to in catering for children between the ages of 0 to 5, upon which time they will enter full-time education. The EYFS has been in circulation for several years, undergoing numerous revisions and amendments. The most recent version was published in September 2014 and is a simplified version of past documents, by having four overarching principles which is guided upon: every child is unique, children become strong through building positive relationships, children learn and develop well in ‘enabling environments’ and finally that children develop and learn at different rates (DfE, 2014). These 4 areas will provide the structure for this assignment. The EYFS seems to comprehensively cover all the needs which children may have in their formative years. It is also concurrent with previous initiatives the government have devised, such as SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning), which implored teachers and practitioners to adopt a holistic stance in educating their pupils (DfE, 2010) and Every Child Matters, which stressed that each child was an individual and should be treated as so (DfE, 2004).

Principle 1- Every Child is Unique

Perhaps the most notable principle espoused in the current early year’s framework is the need to recognise the child as an individual, one who is unique and should have care tailored to meet their needs (DfE, 2014). This is a point which seems to have sound theoretical backing. Bandura (1977) feels that children do develop in a unique manner, also giving credence to the fact that the social environment influences their development, something the EYFS also recognises. Bandura also feels that social interaction is something that is imperative to the child’s development, which is agreement with the communication and language need identified by the framework. Although Piaget (1952) does recognise that each child is an individual, he posits that their development amongst each other is fairly uniform, as he feels that children progress through a series of fixed stages, particularly in a cognitive manner. This is slightly different to the message which the EYFS framework conveys, as they do recognise that children progress through stages, but the document expresses that their development may not be so homogenous: rather each child is on their own unique learning journey (DfE, 2014). In my own practice, children were treated as an individual, with an emphasis on the present, rather than adhering to a fixed model of child development. On my placement each child had their own box and folder where detailed notes on them were kept, which shows how they were being considered as individuals. It seems important to treat the child as an individual so that they can grow in stature and become someone who has an authentic identity. This is something which is inherent with the theory of constructivism which advocates children being treated as individuals who make sense of their world in a way which is unique to them, allowing them to build understanding in a way which is ‘special’ to them (Bruner, 1961: 22). This seems to ratify the ethos of the current EYFS framework in treating children uniquely, although parallel to this, it may also be pertinent to bear in mind that there are certain stages which children progress through. Even if each child’s development is not uniform, there may still be some similarities between them, which emphasise the importance of consulting certain theoretical models of development.

Principle 2- Children become strong and independent through positive relationships

This principle seems to be slightly paradoxical in nature. Piaget (1952) articulates the importance of children being active and independent whereas Vygotsky (1977) feels that guided participation (from an adult or worker) is essential in fostering a child’s development. The EYFS framework arguably combines these theoretical notions, recognising that children should have be independent and be able to explore, whilst being able to have a positive relationship with their ‘key person’, the adult who is most involved in their care (DfE, 2014). The framework elaborates that it is the key’s person role to ensure that the child becomes settled into the environment, becomes comfortable in the setting and also to build a productive relationship with the parents. However, Bandura (1977) offers an extra dimension of the key worker’s role, which is that they can model and display the desirable behaviours which the children they look after can copy and imitate, a phenomenon which Bandura feels is particularly powerful in influencing a child’s development. Nutbrown and Page (2008) emphasise the importance of the key person, in that they should exude warmth, friendliness and possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills which will enable them to develop a rapport with the child and be able to contribute to their development successfully.



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University of Cumbria
Pedagogy Early Years Foundation Stage Teaching Education Learning Theories



Title: A consideration of the principles and practice that underpin the Early Years Foundation Stage and how the current framework relates to young children's needs and interests