EYLF: Frequently asked questions

The questions and answers published below provide information for all involved with the implementation of the EYLF. The page is continuously updated with new entries.

What is the aim of having a national Early Years Learning Framework?

For the first time, Australia has a national early years' learning framework, Belonging,  Being and Becoming:  The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) that can provide support, consistency and status for educators. It  has been developed to assist early childhood educators extend and enrich children's learning from birth to five years and through their transitions to school. It is also designed to assist educators to provide young children with opportunities to maximise their potential and develop a foundation for future success in learning. The Framework forms the foundation for ensuring that children in all early childhood education and care settings experience quality teaching and learning. It has a specific emphasis on play-based learning and recognises the importance of communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) and social and emotional development.

Who will use the Framework?

The framework will be used by all early childhood educators who work with children from birth to five years in early childhood education and care programs and transition into school.  It is one important  component of the new national early childhood reform agenda and is a component of the quality standard being finalised.

How will the framework link with the new national quality standard and ratings system?

The Early Years Learning Framework has now been endorsed by COAG and is the first element of the National Quality Agenda.

The National Quality Agenda includes:

The next important step is the development of nationally consistent standards and that work is progressing following a national consultation in August 2009. How the standards will look is not known yet.

What's in the framework?

The most important features of the framework are the principles, practices and learning outcomes as they interact with each other to assist educators in designing, implementing and evaluating their programs and children's learning experiences. These features are underpinned by the themes of Belonging Being and Becoming.

The following diagram represents the features of the framework and can be found on page 10 of Belonging Being and Becoming.

When will the framework be implemented?

The framework is now available for implementation and has been distributed to early childhood education and care services across Australia.  At this introductory stage, services are expected to familiarise themselves with the Early Years Learning Framework and think about how they will use the framework to guide their program.

What am I expected to do with the framework?

In South Australia it is an expectation that all services (preschools, children's centres, child care centres and family day care) will be using the framework by the beginning of 2010. It is expected that educators will use it to underpin the implementation of more specific curriculum relevant to each local community and early childhood setting and use the framework's Learning Outcomes to promote, assess and report on children's learning.  

Different services and staff teams will have different starting points. Some will choose a starting point and reflect and develop their program and thinking from there. Others will choose a section to use immediately and reflect as team on what they are learning and changing, and will further their program development and professional learning from that perspective. It will not be advisable or even possible to make sustainable changes by trying to do too much at once. However it is important to consider the three integrated elements of the framework - principles, practice and outcomes. Focusing on the first two elements will help educators to develop what they do and how they do it, so that they can have a positive effect on improving children's learning outcomes.

Does the EYLF replace SACSA?

From the beginning of 2010 the EYLF will replace the first two phases of the Early Years Band of SACSA as the official early childhood curriculum framework for South Australia.  There are parts of the SACSA  Framework that will complement the EYLF and it can be used as a resource to assist in the implementation of the EYLF but the EYLF will now be the adopted framework.

What are the differences between the SACSA Framework and the EYLF?

There are many similarities between the two documents. For example there is a close relationship between the 8 Developmental Learning Outcomes in the SACSA Framework and the 5 Learning Outcomes in the EYLF.

Many of the underlying principles and practices are similar in both frameworks, (for example holistic learning, reciprocal, respectful relationships, play).

A particular focus that is emphasised in the EYLF includes educators' pedagogy.  This is seen in the section on Practice and also in the Learning Outcomes section in which examples of evidence about how educators promote children's learning are included under each outcome.

How does RESPECT REFLECT RELATE fit with the EYLF?

RESPECT REFLECT RELATE is the primary resource for supporting quality improvement of teaching and learning in the early childhood sector. It provides guidance for relationships and learning environments consistent with the principles and practices of the EYLF.

What is the evidence base for the EYLF?

The Framework draws on conclusive international evidence that early childhood is a vital period in children's learning and development.

The reference list in the framework indicates a range of sources that cover evidence from research fields such as child development, neuroscience, early childhood learning and pedagogy, and policy studies. The references are sourced from international organisations such the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and local curriculum documents.

EYLF Background papers 

How is the impact of neuroscience seen in the EYLF?

Neuroscience has reinforced the importance of learning and development in the early years especially the importance of the first 3 years of life.  The importance of learning within consistent nurturing relationships is emphasised in the EYLF.  The framework acknowledges babies' first attachments within their families and within other trusting relationships and encourages educators to build upon these relationships providing children with a secure base for exploration and learning.

How will the EYLF contribute to the Early Childhood Development strategy in South Australia?

Learning from birth is considered to be a very important part of early childhood development. The EYLF provides a focus for sharing information about what is considered important for children's learning across agencies and in public forums.   In addition to familiarisation sessions provided to early childhood education and care practitioners, copies of the Framework will be provided to key agencies and service providers and introductory information sessions will be offered.

How can we share information about the EYLF with families?

There is a variety of ways in which information about the EYLF can be shared.

In addition to copies of the EYLF all early childhood services have been provided with multiple copies of the Early Years Learning Framework Parents' Guide and a set of posters about the framework. Further copies of the English language version of the parents' guide are available from EYLF@deewr.gov.au.

The Early Years Learning Framework Parents' Guide is also available for downloading in a number of community languages from the DEEWR website.

As always each early childhood service will have a variety of ways in which information is shared with families, for example centre newsletters, conversations with parents, communication books, emails etc.

How will the EYLF be used in pre-service education?

Universities and TAFE are planning to include the EYLF in their programs just as they now make reference to the SACSA Framework. Other training providers will be using the framework for their students and trainees.

What are the implications for assessment? Will there still be summative reports for preschools?

All educators across the range of children's services are accountable for promoting and monitoring children's learning and reporting to families. The Learning Outcomes of the EYLF provide the structure for this.

The current national QIAS has expectations that each child's learning is documented and is used in planning the program. It is not yet clear how this will be addressed in the new national quality standards.

It is an expectation that children and their families in South Australia will continue to be provided with summative reports at the end of their time in preschool as they move into Reception.

Currently it is a DECD policy requirement for the report to be based on the 8 Developmental Learning Outcomes in the SACSA framework, using observation and narrative description to record children's learning. This requirement will continue based on the 5 Learning Outcomes in the EYLF with a continuing  emphasis on descriptive information.

DECD preschools will be expected to phase in reporting against the EYLF Learning Outcomes for all children with a full implementation by the end of 2010.

Checklists against the examples of evidence within the EYLF learning outcomes are not considered to be an acceptable way of providing a holistic integrated picture of a child's learning and are not in accord with the principles and practices of the framework.

What will educators be accountable for?

Early childhood educators are accountable for implementing the EYLF in 2010.  They are accountable to children and their families to demonstrate that their practices are underpinned by the EYLF and that they are assisting children to progress their learning in optimum ways.

Describing to families how their children are learning in relation to the learning outcomes is essential.

More specific information about accountability in relation to the new Quality Standards will become available as further decisions are made.

How can I get access to a copy of the EYLF framework?

If you work in an early childhood education and care service you should have received a package from the Australian Government. This package included multiples copies of the EYLF for the centre or service, a set of posters, some copies of Early Years Learning Framework Parents' Guide, and a letter from the Hon. Kate Ellis, Minster for Early Childhood Education and Care.

DECD has purchased some additional copies for larger services, regions, DECD' work units and other agencies with a responsibility for early childhood development. These are being distributed during 2009.

Personal copies of the EYLF it can be downloaded from the DEEWR website.

Are teachers the only people who can use the EYLF?

No. Teachers have the benefit of four years training in exploring theories of learning, development and teaching and supervised practice. It is expected that they will provide leadership in the understanding and implementation of the EYLF. However, the framework has been written for, and expected to be used by all early childhood educators working with children birth - age five (in the range of care and education settings) and into the transition to school).

How do you achieve the EYLF learning outcomes through a play based program and pedagogy?

Play provides a context for children to explore, expand and express theories, relationships, attributes of the world (people, places, objects) communication, and ways of being, belonging and becoming. Play leads to the expansion of children's repertoire of actions and provides opportunities for children to connect their thinking and actions leading to changes in their brain architecture, i.e. learning.

All play conveys messages about children's understandings and skills. It is critical that educators are articulate about the value of meaningful play and carefully observe, document and interpret children's learning that occurs through play to plan for further learning and report on children's learning.

Achievement of learning outcomes is planned for using the EYLF planning cycle where educators question, plan, and act and reflect, using the learning outcomes as their goals and play as an aspect of their learning context. Reflective educators question how the different types of play (see RESPECT REFLECT RELATE p50) support the planning for and recognition of learning in each of the EYLF learning outcomes.

What is the status of DIAf?

DIAf is the DECD quality improvement framework that DECD preschools and schools are expected to use. RESPECT REFLECT RELATE is a primary resource for assisting staff in working through quality improvement processes. As national decisions are made about the quality standards the relationship between DIAf and other processes will become clearer.

What are the plans to support people to use the framework, nationally and in South Australia? What help is available?

In the familiarisation phase of implementing the framework introductory sessions will be provided to groups of early childhood educators. These may be provided by DECD regional and central office staff and the Professional Support Coordinators.

A range of resource materials will become available for early childhood services through 2010. Some of these will be national resources and some will relate specifically to South Australia.  Nationally, an Educator Guide will be made available early in 2010.

A statewide EYLF Leadership project will be established in South Australia in 2010. This project will involve a number of early childhood services participating in practitioner inquiry to examine aspects of the EYLF in depth, and providing case studies, exemplars and artefacts later in 2010 for wider circulation.

How can the EYLF be used to plan?

Children and their rights are central to the process. The most effective way to plan using the EYLF is to use a cycle of questioning, planning, acting and reflecting, (see diagram below). These processes stand you in good stead for using any curriculum framework. The context and content might vary between frameworks, but the processes remain the same. In using the EYLF the context includes the intent, the pedagogy, principles and practices of the EYLF and the content includes the EYLF Learning Outcomes and learning dispositions. In South Australia, RESPECT REFLECT RELATE provides guidance for the pedagogy, principles and practices of the EYLF.

Will there be formats and new supporting resources available for planning, assessing and reporting?

Materials, including an educator guide, currently in development, will support educators to use the framework for planning, assessing and reporting and for exploring more deeply the principles and practices. Educators are encouraged to use a curriculum planning cycle and documentation that suits their context and a process of inquiry to understand and promote learning. 

How will the National Curriculum build on the EYLF?

The National Curriculum is currently in preparation.  Communication has occurred between the National Early Years Learning Framework Working Party and the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) about this issue.

ACARA has stated that 

The [national] curriculum will build on the national Early Years Learning Framework and will be designed to accommodate the varied learning experiences that children experience prior to school. The curriculum will also accommodate and value the diverse social and cultural backgrounds and experiences that children bring to school.

(Curriculum Design as at 28th October 2010)

In 2010 teachers of Reception children will continue to use the SACSA Framework as they have done until plans are clearer about implementing the National Curriculum. It is an expectation in South Australia that Reception teachers will become familiar with the EYLF so that they can use the information provided by children's previous educators and build on it to plan the next steps for individual children's learning.

The national curriculum will have standards at each year level. Will that apply also to the Early Years Learning Framework?

There are no plans at present to create standards, benchmarks or milestones for children at each stage within  the EYLF. International evidence indicates that children's learning and development does not occur in uniform ways related to 12 monthly stages and variations among children are quite "normal".  Placing the onus on children to develop according to preconceived steps does not align with international best practice in early childhood development and early learning.  The most highly regarded early learning frameworks from other countries do not have precise age related standards of achievement because of these reasons.

The Early Years Learning Framework has a set of five broad learning outcomes that are expectations for all children. It recognises that while there are particular types of practices that will assist children to reach these outcomes the path for each child will be different and will be demonstrated differently.

The proposed national early childhood quality standards will focus on provision, pedagogy and environmental factors rather than children's achievements. This is in line with international research and policy advice that the key factors in quality improvement are related to interactions and relationships, educator practices, staff qualifications, staff:child ratios and supportive structural aspects.

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