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EYFS Reforms Hub

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. 

Software Releases

The latest software updates

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.

See which frameworks and guidance can be used with Spotlight here.

If you wish to use Birth to 5 Matters in your setting, you can request access to have it enabled here.

We are adding more frameworks all the time. Please let us know if we’ve missed one which you would like to use by submitting feedback below.

Coming soon...

The Future of iConnect

Next up, is the new Event Checker! This is planned for release in January.

We’ve been running regular Customer Workshops to show you our ideas and get your feedback so that Spotlight is built to work for you.

We’re always working on your key priorities and you can see what’s coming next and our plans in the pipeline here.


With change comes lots of questions, so we've answered them below...

The changes to the EYFS statutory framework are being made to:

  • – improve outcomes at age 5, particularly in early language and literacy
  • – reduce workload such as unnecessary paperwork, so you can spend more time with the children in your care.

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:

  • – communication and language
  • – personal, social and emotional development
  • – physical development
  • – literacy
  • – mathematics
  • – understanding the world
  • – expressive arts and design

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:

  • – birth to 3
  • – 3 and 4-year-olds
  • – children in reception

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.

  • – Development Matters is non-statutory guidance published by the government.  
  • – Birth to 5 Matters is non-statutory guidance published by the sector.  

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.

Don’t feel alone in this, consider seeking advice from other members of the Connect Community group and share your experiences. You can also find expert advice on our EYFS blog series.

Connect Childcare Helpdesk Articles

Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (2021)

Download here

Development Matters (2020) non-statutory guidance

Download here

Birth to 5 Matters (2021) non-statutory guidance

Download here

Early years inspection handbook for Ofsted – registered provision (2021)

Download here

Help for early years providers (GOV.UK)

Find here

Up to date ParentZone User Guide

Find here

EYFS – A Guide for Parents and Carers 2021

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.

Yes you can. We have added a new Considerations area when creating a Snapshot or Learning Story. 

This is for you to reflect on a Snapshot or Learning Story and what to do next to help with a child’s development or to highlight their accomplishments.

You can choose to select a status for the Consideration which allows it to be flagged for Intervention, Monitoring or Staff Support.

These Considerations will also appear on the Today screen.

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).

Spotlight is also compatible with the Birth to 5 Matters guidance which can be referenced when making assessments in a Learning Story.

You will be able to view any previous Spotlights (Snapshots and Learning Stories) for a child when adding a new Snapshot or Learning Story. 

You will also be able to see any previous Considerations logged with a Snapshot or Learning Story, and if anything has been flagged as a concern for intervention, monitoring or staff support.

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 ‘Big Picture’ report for a cohort or an individual and a Parent Progress Report.

The Add screen can still be used to add your other daily events such as:

  • Moment
  • Medicine
  • Accident
  • Nappy
  • Toilet Training
  • Sleep
  • Meal

You can’t remove the add screen but you can amend the Event Types in your provider settings.

Yes you can! Just make sure you have the new Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning enabled in your Framework Settings and you’ll be able to use it when adding a framework indicator to a Snapshot or Learning Story.

The Development Matters guidance has helpfully provided ‘observation checkpoints’ for the 3 prime areas with examples of how to support these:

  • – Communication and language
  • – Personal, social and emotional development
  • – Physical development

These can be found in Spotlight under Development Checkpoints and they are highlighted in yellow.

We have also 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:

  • – Literacy
  • – Mathematics
  • – Understanding the World
  • – Expressive Arts and Design

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.

It looks very similar to how observations and assessments have been shared in the past, except they will use the new grading ‘working towards’ and ‘achieved’ and the new age bands (depending on which framework you have referenced).

You can view an example of this here:

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:

You can find all the frameworks and guidance documents that are currently compatible with Spotlight here

Please note, more are being made available in Spotlight all the time. If there is one that you require, please let us know by sending us feedback below.

Do you have feedback on our software updates?

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!


The latest articles from our EYFS Blog Series

From some of the leading Early Years Experts


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