The Birth to Five Matters was produced by the Early Years Coalition and launched in March 2021. The document was developed to support practice with very young children and families. Early years professionals, scholars and consultants came together to create the resource.
I was privileged to lead the Attachment and Key Person working group. The six of us in the group came from diverse work backgrounds and represented varied values, principles and aspirations. Our aim was to pool our expertise and develop a succinct, comprehensive and helpful guide for professionals, with links to references and online resources. The group met online several times to discuss the topic, draft and review the text, and share resources. We engaged in rich discussions before we arrived at a consensus. The work was truly collaborative.
We were clear that the guidance should serve to help professionals develop their practice. It was not intended as a “how to” manual or a tick-list. We were conscious that the documents should support practitioners to implement the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage in a pedagogically principled way, drawing on evidence and research. The intention was that practitioners should refer to the document as needed alongside their professional judgement, knowledge of the children in their setting and the wider context including family and community.
We also wanted to support practitioners to develop their pedagogy to reflect contemporary issues such as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and growing up in a digital age. Accordingly, for example, our group considered varied possibilities for home visits, including meetings in outdoor communal areas. There was no attempt to be prescriptive, but simply to highlight key principles based on research and suggest appropriate practice. Accordingly, we included case studies from current contexts.
We were conscious of the need to communicate effectively to a diverse audience. The early years workforce in England ranges from unqualified staff and volunteers to experienced professionals with qualifications up to and including doctorates. This involved frequent re-wording and re-organisation of our text.
I was privileged to be part of this collaborative process and work with expert colleagues including early years leaders in setting, researchers and consultants. The Early Years Coalition, of which we were a part, hope that the resource generates lively professional dialogue, reflection and knowledge exchange.
Find out more about The Birth to Five Matters: https://www.birthto5matters.org.uk/
About the author
This blog was written by Honorary Associate Professor, Dr Sarah Cousins.