Barnsley Early Start and Family Services

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth up to five years old. Schools and early years providers, including childminders and nurseries, must follow the EYFS.

The EYFS framework gives childcare providers a set of common principles for the delivery of early education and experiences for all children. It gives parents and carers confidence that the same commitments will underpin their child’s learning no matter where they choose for their child's early education.

Phonics in Early Years

Being able to read is the most important skill children will learn during their early years, and can impact lifelong confidence and well-being. An extensive vocabulary at the age of five will help children from a disadvantaged background to succeed at school.

We recommend that settings focus on phase 1 of letters and sounds, and embed good listening skills. 

Letters and sounds helps practitioners teach children how the alphabet works for reading and spelling by acknowledging children’s speaking and listening skills in their own right, and as preparatory to learning phonic skills.

We run training on letters and sounds on a regular basis; courses are available to book on POD.

Outdoor learning

The outdoor environment is a dynamic and natural space for learning and development for children of all ages.

It offers:  

  • a multi-sensory environment that's meaningful, stimulating and motivating.
  • a positive impact on children's sense of well-being, and helps development.
  • opportunities to connect with the natural world, to  experience nature, weather, life and growth.
  • space and freedom that can't be replicated indoors.
  • the ability to explore beyond the garden or grounds.

Conducting a benefit-risk assessment will help you take an enabling approach to outdoors risk management. Find out more about risk assessments.

Key points for outdoor learning

  • Outdoor environments have unique characteristics and features.
  • Learning outdoors has equal value to learning indoors.
  • Outdoor learning has a positive impact on children’s well-being and development.
  • Children need the support of engaged adults who are enthusiastic about the outdoors and understand the importance of outdoor learning.
  • Outdoor learning is enhanced by an environment that is resourced with play materials that can be adapted and used in different ways.
  • An approach to outdoor learning that considers experiences, rather than equipment, places children at the centre of the provision.

Outdoor learning resources

There's lots of resources available to schools and settings to support outdoor learning, and the development of outdoor spaces. Examples include:

Find more outdoor learning resources in the useful information and documents section.

Observation, assessment, planning and tracking

We specialise in providing support, challenge and guidance, with a focus on learning and development in the EYFS. We provide:

  • training for settings and schools
  • support and guidance
  • reference materials


You need to observe children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles. This allows you to shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations, to enhance their development and progression.

You can record your observations of a child using our observation template, and provide parents or carers with our observation from home slips.


Assessment is an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment (also known as formative assessment) is an integral part of the learning and development process.

You can use our assessment templates below to record a summary of a child's learning and development on entry, and their termly review.

Prime assessments
(for children under the age of 3)
Prime and specific assessments
(for children aged 3 or over)
On entry summary On entry summary
Termly review Termly review


You need to consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in your care, and use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development.

You can use our template continuous learning plan or objective led plan for individual children, and our template weekly activity plan.

There are a range of example continuous learning plans available in the useful documents section.


Our toolkit to support the tracking of attainment and progress has been designed for early education and childcare providers in Barnsley. As part of the toolkit there's an easy to use Excel tracker that allows providers to monitor the development of individuals and groups.

For a copy of the tracker please contact us using our online form.

Transition to school or other childcare provision

It's important that all children experience a positive transition to school or other childcare provision. With appropriate preparation and understanding, children are more likely to feel secure and settle more easily into their new environment.

Our EYFS summary transition record can act as a supportive tool within the transition process. We encourage settings to use this standard format; schools and other settings might ask for transition information like this so they meet the statutory requirement for information and records (EYFS statutory framework point 3.68). The record contains on-entry data such as the 2 year progress check, summative assessment information, and details of strategies in place in order to meet the child's needs including SEN support and early help assessment (EHA) information.

Settings and schools must make sure they're fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) 2018 when sharing information with settings, schools and other agencies.

For more help and advice regarding transitions, contact us using our online form or speak to your Early Years Consultant.

In light of COVID-19 (coronavirus) we have created new transition guidance for children going to school in September. We have also adapted the EYFS summary transition record for COVID-19 to best support transition during this time. 

Audit tools

In order to evaluate provision and identify improvement priorities, we're trained and accredited to use a number of audit tools including those below.

To find out more about how we could use these in your setting, contact us using our online form.

ECERS-3 – Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale

ECERS-3 is the revised version of the internationally used and respected tool to measure and improve the quality of early years provisions. ECERS-3 has an increased focus on literacy, mathematical learning and the role of the adult to maximise teaching and learning.

ITERS - Infant and Toddler Environment Rating Scale

ITERS has a focus on auditing the environment for the youngest children (0 to 2 and a half years old) in order create a sense of attachment and well-being to promote development.

SSTEW - Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Well-being

The SSTEW scale has been developed to assess the quality of adult support and interactions in promoting children’s sustained shared thinking and emotional well-being.

The SSTEW scale builds on the ITERS and ECERS to provide more focus on the adult role. The SSTEW scales go further in defining what adults actually do that support children's emotional well-being and their learning behaviours and attitudes.

MOVERS - Movement Environment Rating Scale

MOVERS is a new method of measuring the quality of environment and pedagogy in which children are encouraged to be physically active. It applies the methodology used in the ECERS-E and SSTEW scales, making it easy for educators familiar with these to adopt.

MOVERS is an invaluable tool for research, self-evaluation and improvement, audit, and regulation.

Learning and development enquiry

Call 0800 034 5340 or

Early Years Teacher (EYT) network

Practitioners with Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) working with children in Barnsley’s early years settings are invited to be part of the EYT network.

Being part of the network provides:

  • invitation to periodic network meetings to share good practice with other EYTs
  • professional development opportunities to support continuous improvement to leadership of learning

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