How to ensure a smooth transition between EYFS and KS1

After the fantastic response to last year’s webinar with Headteacher Chat, we’ve teamed up again to explore smooth transitions between EYFS and KS1.

Join Headteacher Chat’s Lucy Coy and Learning Ladders’ Melanie Evans to find out how to improve parental communication, pupil progress and get more meaningful assessment information for transition from Foundation Stage to Year One:

This CPD session covers:

  • Moderation
  • Data collection and submission
  • Supporting pupils with SEND/EAL
  • Reporting to parents
  • Record Transfer
  • Transition meetings
  • Supporting children at the emerging level.
  • Key responsibilities for school leaders


If you didn’t get a chance to read Headteacher Chat’s review of our new EYFS module you can read it here.

Effective Assessment Judgements in the EYFS

Jan Dubiel

Effective Assessment in EYFS: How Do We Know That They Know What They Know?

Revisiting the 80/20 ratio and understanding effective and authentic assessment judgements in the EYFS

The accuracy of data, and a collective confidence in this, is the single most defining factor of its purpose. Without the knowledge and belief that the information is reliable and truly reflects children’s attainment (and therefore achievement) such a data set is simply a random collection of numbers.

In considering assessment in the EYFS, this is acutely so, as this forms the ‘entry level’ of information that potentially plots a lifetime’s trajectory, so ascertaining its accuracy becomes vitally important.

How we truly understand and, confidently assert that a child ‘knows’ or ‘understands’ a concept or knowledge has always been contentious and vexed. Attempts to ‘test’ children in diluted versions of systems and approaches that are successfully provided for older children do not recognise the unpredictability of young children’s perceptions and responses nor the fact that they are (understandably) not usually encultured into the ethnography of testing as ‘finding the right answer’.

Such approaches with young children are highly problematic and unsuccessful, and, unless the test criteria is so narrow as to be severely limited, do not provide data that engenders confidence, accurately reflects children’s attainment or is usable to support progression.

The tradition in the EYFS, and its philosophical and statutory predecessors, is to use a form of ‘observation’ by which the child is carefully watched by the adult, usually in a self-led situation, and, from this the adult makes a judgement about the nature and level of the knowledge and understanding that has been demonstrated; typically against a criteria which is attained or not. The adult might prompt the child with a carefully judged question, or even set up a particular resource to tease out a specific aspect of learning, but the key principle is that this is achieved in a ‘naturalistic’ context with the child unaware that an assessment is taking place. The statutory EYFS Profile (and its previous iterations) is embedded in this principal.

While this approach is not without its challenges; subconscious bias, the ‘halo’ effect, and variables of how many observations constitute a judgement, it is generally accepted as an appropriate and trustworthy approach; although effective training and rigorous moderation are prerequisites for its success. However, even within this broad consensus the issue of ‘truly knowing’ a child’s attainment remains.

During my tenure as the National Lead for the EYFS Profile, I was responsible for creating and implementing the (now somewhat infamous) 80/20 ratio. As part of assessing for the statutory EYFS Profile, it stated that:

“When making a judgement for the EYFS Profile, practitioners should draw at least 80 per cent of evidence from knowledge of the child, observations and anecdotal assessments, and no more than 20 per cent of evidence from adult led and adult direct activity assessments” (EYFS Profile Handbook 2008)

Despite its subsequent misinterpretation and misuse, the rationale that underpinned this was clear and considered. If a child only demonstrated a knowledge, skill or understanding when prompted or instructed to do so by an adult in an adult led context, then this was not sufficiently embedded enough in the child’s achieved learning for them to use it confidently and independently. In short they might ‘possess’ the knowledge, but were unable – or unwilling – to apply and use it. However, if a child did use this in a self-led situation and was able to apply it to their everyday activity, then clearly this was significantly and sufficiently embedded to become part of their secure lexicon of knowledge skills and understanding. The purpose of this was to ensure and generate accurate and valid assessment, that, in this case, constituted a national data set for attainment at the end of the EYFS. This was clarified in documentation and formed an important ‘lens’ during moderation to ensure the judgements truly reflected a child’s attainment.

In the intervening years since this principal was boldly established within the culture of EYFS assessment, our understanding of how children represent their learning and how nuanced this can be has, as one might expect, grown, developed and evolved. Although the principle remains an important one – children need to be able to ‘use’ the knowledge and skills they have been taught, I do believe that the time has come to refine the model and accept some of the nuances and additional considerations that were not necessarily acknowledged in the original statutory requirement.

  • Different aspects of the EYFS’s Learning and Development Requirements might need different treatment.
    The Prime Areas of Learning and Development; Communication and Language, Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Physical Development are ‘constants’ that exist in most if not all activities that children undertake. Therefore they are eminently visible and therefore assessable. Equally so with the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning; these critically important learning behaviours are also present in much of what children do, especially when it is self-led. However, the Specific Areas of Learning and Development; Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive arts and design, are more concerned with ‘bodies of knowledge’ and particular skills that are not always part of the everyday. Therefore, seeing these consistently in a purely self-led context might prove challenging and provide minimal material with which to make a judgement. Therefore, do we need to accept that some aspects will invariably present themselves, while others will need more overt ‘construction’ and scaffolding in order for accurate information to be gleaned, and that a more responsive and professionally considered ‘hybrid’ approach might be required?
  • Although self-led episodes of learning are the ideal way of demonstrating what is ‘known’, the binary principle implicit in the 80/20 ratio needs to take account of more nuance. There is a place in between, where a child may ‘know’ something but chooses not to demonstrate this independently. Although this may suggest that it is not yet sufficiently internalised to be used confidently, a knowledge and / or skill is nevertheless present and, for the sake of accuracy, needs to be acknowledged. Especially in terms of the Specific Areas of Learning and Development (as mentioned above) perhaps judgements need to include an additional strand to indicate this. Therefore we need to acknowledge and develop a three-way strata of judgement; an ‘entry level’ where the learning is not secure, a level where the learning is present following an adult prompt or direction, and a level where the learning is demonstrated independently.

Learning Ladders has launched a new EYFS module specifically for International Schools, designed in collaboration with Jan Dubiel and leading Independent International schools. Find out more and book a consultation here.

(Updated from an original blog written January 2021)

Working with the new Development Matters to support progression in the EYFS

The new Development Matters

The new Development Matters 2021 has a strong re-focus on the concept of ‘Curriculum’; which is best defined as ‘what we want children to learn’, and has triggered an extensive debate in the Early Years community; partly around the ‘pitch’ of expectation for YN and YR, but also around the notion of ‘progression’.

This latter debate is not new and developing a sophisticated understanding of curriculum entails recognising that the content of knowledge, skills and behaviours exists within the dynamic of movement and development. This concept of progress ensures that children become more knowledgeable and skilled as well as being able to sustain and develop critically important learning behaviours. We know, and agree, that children should acquire more knowledge in different ways and in different domains, become more skilled and confident in what that are able to achieve and be able to refine and adapt cognitive processes to realise, express and communicate this.

The new Development Matters, like its predecessors, provides EYFS Educators with Curriculum content and progressive ‘pathways’ to enable them to shape and refine the trajectories of children’s progress.

However, equally like its predecessors, the new Development Matters 2021 is not the entirety of the Curriculum. While it provides a (non-statutory) core of content and a sense of developmental progress, the true and real curriculum itself is much more sophisticated, complex and nuanced.

EYFS educators are continually involved in the process of teaching, and definitions of how this is managed in an Early Years context consistently acknowledge that this exists in a range of strategies, approaches and reactive decisions. This involves the interplay between Adult led learning and a child’s response to it; also this involves episodes where the child leads the learning and the adult does – or doesn’t – interact, challenge and support. What needs to be clearly defined and understood is that this process (the pedagogy) wraps itself completely around the content of what is learned, and therefore is the means by which the content and progression of the curriculum is achieved.

So, in considering the curriculum, and how we ensure that children make progress within it, there are several key principles that need to be foregrounded.

1. Progress is accumulative as children gain, refine and internalise skills, knowledge and behaviours. We can, and should, expect that ‘progress occurs’ when the opportunities, experiences and the quality of all aspects of teaching enable this to happen.

2. Progress is also non-linear and ‘broad’ as the experiences, teaching and provision enable the curriculum to be fully ‘owned’ by the child, meaning that they are able to use knowledges and skills confidently and expertly to support ideas, fascinations and self-motivated threads of thinking, communication and expression. This ‘deepening’ of the curriculum is crucial in ensuring that learning is authentic rather than superficial, and we need to be ever vigilant that we are not simply engaged in ‘coverage’ of specific statements.

3. Delivering the EYFS Curriculum is securing and progressing children’s knowledge and use of knowledge, skills and concepts, so that they can utilise these in their own activity. What is directly, and sometimes formally ‘taught’; needs to be done so in a way that enable the child to use it effectively.

4. Sensitive interactions, direct teaching and resource provision are pedagogical aspects, not features of the curriculum. Although these are part of ensuring that the curriculum is delivered, a careful distinction must take place to ensure that this realised.

Therefore, in practice, the curriculum within the EYFS, needs to considered in three ways:

1. The new Development Matters 2021 Statements are a central core of expectation, content and progression. While they form a central core of teaching and learning, they inevitably need to be supplemented and enhanced by the experiences provided. This will always need to be further defined by the context of the group, the knowledge of the educators and the directions of learning that the children themselves are driven to take.

2. A broad ‘direction of travel’, a sense of the kinds of contents that are going to be important and necessary for the children provides the starting points for teaching and learning. While this will of course need to be fluid, responsive, flexible and adaptable, a clear sense of purpose and outcome needs to be established.

3. The direct teaching of aspects of the curriculum is vital to introduce what ‘needs to be learned’. This is consolidated by the day to day, moment by moment interactions build curriculum outcomes by consolidating and extending knowledge, skills and behaviours and thus deepening what is being learned.


Learning Ladders has launched a new EYFS module specifically for International Schools, designed in collaboration with Jan Dubiel and leading Independent International schools. Find out more and book a consultation here.

(Updated from an original blog written January 2021)


A Flexible Early Years Model

What is your number one early years requirement as an international early years setting?

We’ve built the early years module that practitioners have been asking for.

Specific early years functionality for your curriculum design, assessment, and parent communication, in addition to the highly-rated tools Learning Ladders Primary is renowned for.

To get started, and to see the benefits for yourself, simply activate the early years module within your existing Learning Ladders system and create the ultimate transition-to-primary tool for early years practitioners. Alternatively, you can easily set it up as a standalone system for your Early Years setting.

Making informed professional judgements is easy when your assessments, observations and parental contributions are all in one system.

It’s as great as it sounds, and is the ONLY  tool created specifically in response to the updated statutory framework 2021.

Here are just seven reasons why early years practitioners are already loving our new module:

  1. Ability to import or design your own curriculum
  2. Customise your attainment and progress descriptors
  3. Translate observations, home learning and help articles for parents
  4. Improve transition with one whole school system for early years and primary 
  5. Easy to interpret, consistent reporting to SLT and governors 
  6. One Parent Communication tool for parents in both Early Years and Primary, no more multi-login for different systems
  7. Pre-written notes for practitioners to guide them through the new framework

Every teacher knows that the best transition is based on a continuation of learning, so we’ve kept this at the heart of our new early years module.

EYFS Module Web Page

What makes our early years module stand out from the rest?


Early years teachers know best – they know what they want children in their setting to learn, and the most effective ways to teach it.

Our module makes the most of this, by providing the tools that make it easier to communicate this information to senior leaders, teachers, parents and children.


Utilise the non-statutory Development Matters 2020 framework or import your own curriculum.


Ensure every child feels valued and use tools to design a curriculum that represents the interests and contexts or every unique child.


Create a central curriculum that’s visible for all year groups, with notes and resources for phase leaders to communicate pedagogy and best practice.


Set the foundation for perfectly pitched learning opportunities built from prior experiences.  

All features are geared towards making the transition between early years and primary seamless – meaning less upheaval and more success for your classes.

Time Saving

Automated migration from early years to primary means no hassle transition between systems.

Progress Accelerating

Never lose developmental information in a seperate system again. Year one teachers plan perfectly pitched lessons from day one.


Assessment, observations and parent communication remains visible for years to come. Children’s foundation learning is always important.


Reclaim your time to interact with children and record only meaningful information – we’re putting the child back at the centre of practice.


A choice of up to 4 attainment progress descriptors. A seperate assessment policy for the unique requirements of the foundation stage.

Workload Banishing

A no ‘tick list’ approach to assessment in line with recommendations from the latest frameworks (and no formative assessments required for individual objectives in the curriculum).


The same simple to create, visual reporting the foundation stage to bring early years in line with the rest of the school. There’s even the added bonus of a specific phase leader report for the early years phase leader.

Even our observations tools deliver above the rest:

  • Upload multiple files to each observation to monitor progress more effectively
  • Additional filtering tools for phase leaders in the Observation Manager 
  • Custom tags for phase leader monitoring against identified areas of improvement 
  • Observation Map providing a visible representation of the development recorded in your observation, against your bespoke curriculum objectives

Parent Partnerships

One easy-to-use system for parents, no more stressing over needing multiple logins to different platforms to support children in different phases

The new early years module integrates fully with other phases in the Learning Ladders system. This means parents can check in on how all their children are getting on – all on one system, no matter their age.


  • Observations both ways with two-way communications
  • Share articles to upskill parents

Establish long- lasting partnerships with parents and benefit from one whole school communication system with Ladders at Home.


One parent account from early years through primary, making progress visible for multiple siblings learning across different phases.


Tools for parents to share observations from home to create a holistic picture of development.


Remove barriers to parent involvement in learning with parent articles for every area of learning, translatable in 100+ languages.

“The best part is how you can personalise ladders to really reflect your setting and the curriculum implemented. We are very much looking forward to continuing our exploration of the new EYFS Learning Ladders platform as it simplifies things for our teachers and head teachers”
Sara Al-Aswad
Head of EYFS Smart Vision School, Dubai
“We are grateful that the Education team at Learning Ladders are quick to respond to queries and requests for help. We received support to create our own ladders to track progress and attainment in phonics, and will soon use this knowledge to create Spanish language ladders as we are a bilingual school”
Nicole Wait
Academic Director, The Casco School, Panama