16th November 2020 All Posts Leadership & Management

Julian Grenier on working with the revised Early Years Foundation Stage

Dr Julian Grenier


Last week I attended the Nursery World Virtual Event, The Future of the EYFS, and listened to Julian Grenier as he provided an excellent overview of current early years practice and carefully explained why the EYFS reforms have taken place.

Julian Grenier led on the revision of Development Matters for the Department for Education. He has independently written guidance to support practitioners, teachers and settings in understanding and implementing the updated Development Matters. 

Julian has been kind enough to share the following article with our readers.

‘Working with the revised Early Years Foundation Stage : Principles into Practice’.

Quality matters to all children. But it matters especially for disadvantaged children. So, it’s important for every early years setting to have a plan to improve quality and to support any children who might be in danger of falling behind the majority.

Effective early years settings are always ambitious to become better.

Professional Development can lead to improvements in quality. But, in practice, it doesn’t always succeed in that. Professional Development has to be planned carefully, delivered well and regularly evaluated. It needs to be seen as a year-round activity, not a one-off event.

It’s important to start with a clear understanding of your local context: what do children bring to your setting? What do they need you to offer them? What does your assessment information tell you about the progress children make? All of this information can help you to pinpoint priorities for improvement. You might need to focus more on certain areas of the curriculum: for example, if many of your children have limited space to play,

You might need to spend more time on supporting their physical development.

Once your aims are clear, you are ready to plan your Professional Development programme. This is most likely to be effective if it’s based on the best available evidence and clearly focused on improving children’s experiences in your setting. Consider how your programme will lead to:

  • children learning better
  • children having improved health and wellbeing
  • children experiencing better care.

You can look for evidence of what works in the Early Intervention Foundation’s report, Teaching, pedagogy and practice in early years childcare: An evidence review or on the Education Endowment Foundation’s Early Years Toolkit. The evidence suggests that a successful programme will run over a whole year, or the majority of the year. Each practitioner will engage in at least 20 hours of training in total. Those 20 hours might include a whole-staff session, self-study and online learning, discussion, mentoring or coaching, and peer support. There isn’t any evidence that sending staff to one-off training events and asking them to share their learning with the wider team is effective in improving quality, although it might support an individual’s professional development.

Professional development is most effective when there is a clear focus on practice, clearly linked to theory. Ongoing support will mean that participants can transfer what they are learning into their daily practice, and understand the theory that underpins what they are doing. For example, practitioners could regularly observe or film their practice (with the consent of parents). That will help them to check that they are putting their training into action. Coaching sessions can help practitioners to keep focused on their training, and to overcome barriers to change.

It’s important to include everyone in the training and implementation sessions. Ensure that sessions are engaging and practical, with focused professional learning and plenty of practical examples. Participants will need to know what the new practice looks like. Settings can reduce the costs of Professional Development by joining together as a group and working together on a programme. Local authorities, Teaching School Hubs, and Research Schools can help with this.

You can read more about planning effective Professional Development for your team in Julian Grenier’s new book, Working with the revised Early Years Foundation Stage: Principles into Practice. 

You can download this as a free PDF or buy the book from Amazon at £20.  

Other useful links can be found here:

Since the revised Development Matters was published for early adopter schools in September 2020, there have been several video discussions (vlogs) and blogs about the new guidance. Hear from Julian Grenier with representatives from Ofsted and the Department for Education:



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Marketing Lead at Connect Childcare