Early-Years teachers on the January 2019 BIEA Overseas Study Tour visited the Archway Children’s Centre on the fourth day of their trip. Upon arrival at Archway, they were warmly welcomed by BIEA EYFS Course Manager, CPD Senior Course Instructor and Tales Toolkit founder Kate Shelley. Kate explained to the group; “how EYFS promotes the development of high-quality international nurseries”, and explained the concept of EYFS, its teaching and about the favourable environment needed for it to work. She also led the teachers on a tour of the nursery.

1. What is EYFS?

It is vital for the early years teachers who participated in the UK study tour to understand the central concept of the Early-Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The aim of the lecture given by Kate Shelley was to help establish a systematic EYFS basic knowledge. Kate summed it up as the following:

“EYFS is a statutory early basic stage education framework that sets standards for children’s learning and development from birth to pre-school stage, which is guided by the three principles of A Unique Child, Positive Relationships, and Enabling Environments, supporting the learning and development of young children in the areas of communication and language development, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and art and design expressiveness.”

2. The teaching under the EYFS system

The focus of EYFS teaching

EYFS teaching is a topic that interests teachers who are eager to understand the UK EYFS system. Kate pointed out that EYFS teaching has a core point that must be kept in mind: teaching is a combination of teacher-child interaction in adult-led activities and interaction between adults and children in child-directed games. In response to this core point, the teachers presented a discussion on “the role of teachers in teaching”. During the discussion, the participants also raised the question of how British teachers observe and evaluate young children.

Observation-evaluation-plan of EYFS teaching

Kate patiently listened to the students’ opinions on teaching issues and commented on their views. In response to the question of how to perform an observation-evaluation-planning cycle, Kate summarised the process as the teacher collecting evidence of the learning and development of the child through observation, including reading, listening, recording and description; based on the evidence for the child, the development is analysed and evaluated to plan the next development and learning stage of the child.
Inter-field relationship under EYFS.

Many of the participating teachers have been exposed to EYFS in their home country, but they did not fully understand the relationships between different areas laid down in EYFS. One teacher asked, “what is the relationship between the key areas of EYFS and specific areas?” In this regard, Kate believes that the most important thing is the development of key areas, but as long as the development process of key areas also includes activities in other fields in order to carry out comprehensive activities cross multiple fields.

3. A favourable environment

The “favourable environment” of the three principles of EYFS is one of the most important stages for the teachers adopting EYFS in China. Kate first explained the definition of a favourable environment in EYFS and then presented pictures of the sand playing area, water-playing area, role-playing game area and other learning areas existing in British nurseries. Kate’s patience and teaching helped the teachers master the concept of a favourable environment under the EYFS system.

A teacher summarized Kate’s interpretation of the “favourable environment” as: through openness and discovery materials and resources we can engage children and maximize learning, it can stimulate and reflect children’s interest and development.

Kate had repeatedly emphasized in the process of creating the environment, “we should provide more open materials for young children to stimulate their creativity, we should also make full use of natural resources such as mud and wooden blocks.” This has the bonus of being environmentally friendly and allows children to get close to nature.

4. Observation

In the afternoon everyone accompanied the Director of the Archway Centre, Ciara to visit the nursery and learn more about how the nursery practised EYFS and completed learning objectives. During the observation process, there was a “nature and spelling” class for 3-5 years old children in the garden, providing the teachers with an opportunity to observe.

Note: Due to child protection, we are not allowed to take pictures of young children. If you would like to use the above pictures for any purpose, please consult Archway Children’s Center.

5. Wonderful moments

Experience teaching from Tales Toolkit

Kate is not only the EYFS course manager at BIEA but she is also the founder of the TalesToolkit. Kate shared with teachers the teaching method she designed. “It begins with a “small pig”, and started the path to story creation.”

Note: Tales Toolkit is a teaching method that guides children to create stories through related teaching aids. It is mainly used to assist children in creating stories, thus promoting their language ability development.

British preschool policy and direction

The teachers were not only fascinated by EYFS teaching but were also interested in the development of the British early years’ education industry as a whole. One teacher asked, “what is the social identity of British nursery teachers?” To which Kate responded:
“The welfare and entry requirements of preschool teachers in the UK are consistent with those of other stages. But there are also some parents who believe that the primary responsibility of preschool teachers is to look after their children. In recent years, the government has also increased its investment in early years education, as all sectors of society have come to realise that early years education is a long-term development process that will have a profound impact on the future learning and development of young children.”

The BIEA Overseas Study Tour is an opportunity for overseas teachers to get up close of the latest in British educational practices. If you are interested in being involved either as a host, expert or attendee please contact us.