Nannies are not obliged to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), unlike childminders and nurseries, and the freedom from this can be seen as a big plus for both nannies who have experience mountains of paperwork in other childcare settings and parents who don’t want formal learning for their children. But should nannies be using it all the same? This is what Frances Norris, Policy Officer for BAPN has to say.
Why don’t nannies have to follow the EYFS?
Basically the Government can’t control what goes on in people’s homes, even if you’re registered with OFSTED. The parents of a child get to decide what you do in their house while looking after their child. Childminders and nurseries are more heavily regulated and have to meet certain standards – the EYFS sets out the Governments expectations of those standards and makes the job of evaluating the simpler.
How can the EYFS support nannies?
Although nannies don’t actually have to follow the EYFS there’s a lot of great information in there, and it’s handy to be up on what it says to communicate effectively with nurseries and schools as a fellow childcare professional. Assessing a child informally against the EYFS can help pinpoint any difficulties and give you more weight if you ever need to raise a concern. Finally it’s a good way to check you’re providing a rounded experience and developing your charge(s) across all the areas of learning.
Does the EYFS restrict what you can do?
Not at all, as long as it’s not dangerous (because the Safeguarding and Welfare requirements as well as common sense require you to keep children safe from harm). In fact many things that nurseries and childminders with a high ratio ‘can’t’ do because it would be unsafe under the guidelines for assessing risk are perfectly possible as a nanny because you have fewer children to look after.
What are these areas for learning?
The EYFS divides skills into 3 prime areas and 4 specific areas of learning. The 3 prime areas correspond to the major developmental areas for young children - personal, social and emotional development, physical development, and communication and language – and are constantly being worked on. Any activity will tick boxes in all of these areas, even playing alone while you prepare lunch. The specific areas – literacy, numeracy, understanding the world, and expressive arts and design – provide a framework for your different activities.
How can I provide evidence of children’s learning and targets without a formal learning journey?
Most of you probably keep a daily diary of some kind where you note down the activities you do as well as any milestones. This meets many requirements of the EYFS already. You can easily note down what you plan to work towards based on recent achievements, and demonstrate that you are following your charge(s)’s interests and providing plenty of opportunities for balanced learning.
Do I just go ahead and implement it?
That sounds a terribly formal way of putting it! Using the EYFS just means informing yourself, the same way that reading Home Childcarer can, keeping an eye on the activities you do, being proactive about child development and improving the way you communicate with parents. It’s not something scary, but you can of course mention to parents that you’re working within the EYFS and reassure them it won’t change the relationship you have with them or their child, and it won’t take up lots of your time.
Where can I find out more?
Although the EYFS only applies in England, many of the points I made still apply wherever you are, although we haven’t yet produced a guide to the Foundation Stage in Wales or Northern Ireland, or for Pre-birth to 3 and Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland. Offers of help are always welcome!
Being familiar with any kind of national guidance can only be positive, even if just to inform parents of which elements you do and don’t incorporate in your work. As a nanny you have the flexibility to pick and choose, and you may even find that another early years curriculum is a better fit.