We’ve been working with our Early Years Network to bring to you some brand new updates and a wealth of useful resources to help you get ready for September 2021.
Introducing Spotlight in iConnect
We’re very excited to release our brand new Spotlight screen in iConnect!
The EYFS reforms have brought a big shift in practice and mindset for the whole early years sector and our products are adapting to this. Spotlight is the result of much collaboration with you and early years consultants. It has been designed to reflect the sector’s values and requirements.
The following frameworks and guidance for the EYFS are now available in Spotlight…
The Future of Spotlight
We recently ran a customer workshop to show you our plans for the future of Spotlight and find out which features you needed most. Don’t worry if you missed it – you can catch up here.
We received some great feedback from you and have started development on your key priorities.
The changes to the EYFS statutory framework are being made to:
Once you have read the new EYFS Statutory Framework, you will find that not much has changed except for the need to include oral health alongside the requirement to “promote the good health of children” and, of course, the slim-lined Early Learning Goals. But ultimately it is still a framework and it’s still statutory focusing on safeguarding, welfare and partnership with parents.
The main focus, and the part most people are worried about is the teaching and learning requirements, the seven areas of learning and development and the Early Learning Goals.
Pre-reception providers do not need to use the early learning goals but you can familiarise yourself with the changes to understand the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young children should have gained by the end of the reception year.
The changes to ELGs
The early learning goals have been changed to make them clearer and more specific. They are more focused on the main factors that support child development at age 5. The 7 areas of learning and development are:
The early learning goals should not be used as a curriculum. They should be used as an assessment during the summer term of the reception year.
The Government has also republished their Development Matters non-statutory guidance with the following changes:
It’s much shorter, about two-thirds of the length of the previous version, to allow for more freedom to develop the right broad curriculum for the children you work with.
The age bands have been simplified to avoid tracking activities that do not support child development. There are now 3 age bands instead of 6:
There’s more room for professional judgement. You can make more judgments based on your knowledge and experience, instead of using the early learning goals or age bands in the framework to track children’s progress.
Another popular new non-statutory guidance has also been created by the sector – Birth to 5 Matters.
It is a legal requirement to adhere to the Statutory Framework for the EYFS, so we would advise that you familiarise yourself with all of the changes to the statutory framework here. The Government has also pulled together some guidance and practical support to help you get ready for the changes here.
You have the freedom to create your own curriculum. After speaking to our customers, we’ve found that most settings are planning to use either Development Matters or Birth to Five Matters as guidance to help shape their approach.
Development Matters and Birth to Five Matters are both non-statutory guidance documents. There is no legal requirement to use either of these.
The status of the two documents is essentially the same. Both the Department for Education and Ofsted have made it clear that there is no expectation that you will refer to any particular non-statutory guidance. It is completely up to you to choose to use any guidance that you find helpful in your practice.
You could choose to use either Birth to 5 Matters or Development Matters (2020), or use them both, or use neither. You are equally free to refer to previous EYFS guidance.
One of the aims behind the changes is to reduce workload such as unnecessary paperwork, so you can spend more time with the children in your care. So you may want to use this time to cut back on how you record and report on children’s progress. Recording of supporting evidence should be kept to a minimum and there should not be an excessive level of frequency or detail.
We suggest that you hold a staff meeting to brief your staff about the changes and discuss how they feel about the changes. You may find that some of your staff feel completely confident, but others may need a little more support, this may be a good time to discuss CPD with your teams.
Connect Childcare Helpdesk Articles
Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (2021)Download here
Development Matters (2020) non-statutory guidanceDownload here
Birth to 5 Matters (2021) non-statutory guidanceDownload here
Early years inspection handbook for Ofsted – registered provision (2021)Download here
Help for early years providers (GOV.UK)Find here
Spotlight has been developed to reduce workload such as unnecessary paperwork, so you can spend more time with the children in your care.
We’ve reduced how much information is collected to ensure what we are recording is significant and useful. Think quality over quantity.
Spotlight uses the new grading with more positive wording (Working Towards and Achieved) and the new Development Matters 2021 and Birth to 5 Matters guidance documents to allow you to add Snapshots and Learning Stories with reference to these documents.
We’ll be adding this in a later version of iConnect. We’ll be holding workshops to understand how you would like this to look – look out for invites or send us your feedback from within iConnect.
If you select Baseline, Two Year Check, or Transition your learning story will include this as a label so it is clear for your staff and parents. You do not have to select one of these options.
We are adding more options in a future version of iConnect. We’ll be holding workshops to understand what these need to be – look out for invites or send us your feedback from within iConnect.
The EYFS framework is available in Spotlight but please note this is EYFS 2017. We’ve left this option in as some settings wish to remain using it.
However you can use Development Matters 2021 which supports the EYFS reforms and uses the new age bands (1, 2 and 3).
The reason behind the spotlight screen not linking your snapshots to your learning stories (in the same way the add screen links observations to assessments) is to remove the pressure of adding unnecessary snapshots (observations) – and to reduce your workload. There’s no intrinsic need for evidence so snapshots should only be collected if they serve a purpose for you as a practitioner or are helping to involve parents/carers in their child’s learning journey.
We know it can be tricky to shift mindset but the idea is to use Spotlight to gather useful information and allow practitioners to really show they know the child, rather than producing lots of tracking data. Development Matters (2020) offers a simpler way of assessing children. It includes useful information on the principles of assessment and planning. It does stress, the document is not to be used as a tick list, or to generate lots of data.
Saying that, we are however considering the ability to view if there have been any concerns logged when you are creating a new Learning Story. We think this is an important piece of the puzzle. We’ll be holding workshops to understand what this will look like – look out for invites or send us your feedback from within iConnect.
In a future version of iConnect, the events you have added on Spotlight will link with the Learning Journal Report to include your published Snapshots and Learning Stories in the same way they currently include Observations and Assessments and Moments.
If your setting is currently heavily report focussed, you may need to communicate with your team that you will no longer be able to produce all of the tracking reports that they may be used to.
We are however looking to add a Cohort Report for nurseries and a Parent Progress Report and we’ll be holding workshops to understand what these will look like – look out for invites or send us your feedback from within iConnect.
The Add screen can still be used to add your other daily events such as:
You can’t remove the add screen but you can amend the Event Types in your provider settings.
The Development Matters guidance has helpfully provided ‘observation checkpoints’ for the 3 prime areas with examples of how to support these:
We have gone one step further. Our Development Checkpoints not only provide the 3 prime areas directly from Development Matters, they also provide useful checkpoints across the 4 specific areas of learning:
Our Development Checkpoints have been formulated with Early Years Experts (in line with the new EYFS) to support you with each area of learning right up to reception age. They can be added when you complete a Learning Story to demonstrate a Development Checkpoint has been reached.
You will also find the Early Learning Goals from the EYFS here for you to reference in a Learning Story.
Clicking on ‘Framework Indicator’ when completing a Snapshot or Learning Story, will allow you to select statements from each framework that is enabled at your site and grade them as ‘working towards’ or ‘achieved’ You can enable/disable your desired frameworks by heading to your framework settings. Please note that Spotlight does not work with the Leuven Scales framework.
Spotlight can be enabled now. Go to iConnect -> Settings -> Manage Permissions -> Assigned Permissions -> Enable Spotlight, then go to Event Types and enable Learning Story and/or Snapshots which form part of the Spotlight screen.
Read the helpdesk articles here:
We really appreciate all the feedback and ideas we’ve received with regard to implementing the EYFS reforms. We’re continuously developing our products to meet your needs and we always welcome your thoughts. After all, this has got to work for you! Once you’ve had a chance to check out the new screen – send us your feedback.
Resources released to help you prepare for the changes.
iConnect Spotlight and Development Matters – Released to Customers early August
Birth to 5 Matters – Released at the end of August
Spotlight in use by Customers
Customer Workshops and surveys on how you are finding the new approach and what you might like to see in the second iteration.
Spotlight Phase 2 Customer Feedback Workshops
Here you can interact with the wonderful community of Connect Childcare users to ask questions, post ideas, get useful advice and generally share the joy of childcare with a like-minded group. You’ll also keep up to speed with latest updates, tips, and insights directly from the Connect Childcare team.