Development Matters: Using the EYFS Framework and Curriculum for Excellence


teacher reading a book

The development of each child is so important as it not only affects their learning in the classroom but also in future life.

For a child to effectively develop, their educational needs must be fulfilled. This is just one of the many responsibilities of a nursery school practitioner as they need to ensure all activities are age and stage appropriate.

There are certain standards nursery teachers must meet to ensure each child is receiving a good quality education.

These standards also ensure consistency across different nurseries and schools so regardless of where your child attends, you can have peace of mind that they are receiving care and support.

This is essential during early years as the skills they learn in a nursery environment sets the basis for their future development. When they transition from nursery into a school, it’s key they are equipped with the skills and experience required to progress.

What Age Does EYFS Refer to?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) covers all children from birth to 5 years old.

This is a key stage in any child’s life as they are learning about the world and discovering different things around them.

During this stage, they are learning about themselves and others including how to interact with peers and teachers.

What Is the EYFS Framework and Why Is it Important?

In 2008, the Early Years Foundation Framework was introduced to ensure all children were receiving a consistent and high standard of learning.

In any pre-school setting, it’s pivotal young children have access to a good level of teaching. These early years are critical as they have a long term impact on a child’s development.

Their experiences during early years can affect future choices, wellbeing, happiness, and resilience so it’s key their nursery environment supports these needs.

The framework promotes teaching and learning to ensure a child’s ‘school readiness’ and enables them to acquire broad skills and knowledge for everyday life.

The framework is based on 4 main principles that should be used to shape the teaching practices in an early years setting:

Every Child Is Unique

This part of the framework understands that each child is different and responds to learning methods in different ways. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. However, with the correct support and guidance, every child is capable of being a strong and capable learner who can flourish.

Enabling Environments

The learning environment should prompt and encourage good learning techniques. The nursery setting is key in encouraging children to actively engage and participate in activities. The environment should cater to the individual requirements of each learner child’s needs and gives them the freedom to expand their skills and development.

Positive Relationships

Where safe and possible, children should be encouraged to be strong and independent so they can form their own decisions. This provides the foundation for positive relationships in the future and will also encourage them to think on their own. This is not only an important skill for the classroom but also in wider society and will prepare them for the school environment.

Learning and Development

By following the EYFS 7 Areas of Learning (which we’ll come onto more below), each child will be taught a wide variety of skills and knowledge which will facilitate their physical and mental development.
children reading together

What Are the 7 Areas of Learning?

Within the principles mentioned above, there are 7 areas of learning that should be followed in teaching practices during early years.

These 7 areas are split into 2 different categories – prime and specific.

However, all of these areas are interconnected and play an important role in a child’s development.

Prime areas of learning

These areas are fundamental in a child’s learning as they ensure successful learning in the specific areas which we’ll explain in more detail below.

Communication and Language Development

There should be opportunities for children to speak and listen in a range of situations. This builds on their communication skills and develops their confidence in social settings. These skills are key in allowing children to fully express themselves.

Physical Development

Nursery school setting should provide young children with opportunities to be active. Physical activities allow children to develop their coordination, control, and movement as they explore and make sense of their environment. Children should also be supported to understand the importance of physical activity, and be encouraged to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.
child laughing playing with leaves

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Classroom settings and practitioners must help children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others. This includes helping young children to form positive relationships and to help them develop respect for others, including their peers, parents, and teachers.

They should also be helped to develop social skills and should learn how to manage their feelings and behaviours effectively.
This includes understanding what is deemed as appropriate behaviour in groups settings. Young children must be encouraged to have confidence in their own abilities.

Specific Areas of Learning

The specific areas of learning provide opportunities for children to build on their knowledge and skill set.

These areas cannot be encountered without children having a strong foundation in the prime areas outlined above.


Encourages children to read and write by making sense from different letters and sounds.

It’s key for their development that children can understand different words as this will help them progress when they reach school age.


Children should be provided with opportunities to develop their math skills. Young children need to have a basic understanding of numbers, calculations, and counting as well as being able to describe different shapes, spaces, and measures.
child exploring a forest

Understanding the world

This involves children making sense of the world around them through exploration and discovery. During early years this is extremely important as children learn through their senses and their interactions with others.

Young children learn and develop through play, using resources which are both fun and educational to help them make sense of different concepts.

Expressive Arts and Design

This area of learning enables children to express themselves through play. This covers a wide range of media and materials, and should encourage children to share their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

Nursery school practitioners might choose to engage children in music, art, dance, role play, or movement.

What Is the Curriculum for Excellence?

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) ensures all young people and children in Scotland gain the skills, knowledge, and experience required for future living.

It enables all children to be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens, and effective contributors to society.

The curriculum contains a set of structures and standards that have been developed by the Scottish Government to ensure all criteria are met.

Since 2010, the Curriculum has been used in educational settings to ensure children receive a good level of teaching and are prepared for adulthood.
children learning in classroom

Who Does It Apply to?

From ages 3-18, all children and young people in Scotland are entitled to a consistent and coherent education.

Under the curriculum, they have access to opportunities to develop their skills and attributes to allow them to thrive in wider society.

The standards set out in the curriculum are important for teachers, parents, and the wider school community as they ensure children achieve educational success. It’s important the standards are understood and followed to ensure children have a coherent learning experience.

What Are the Main Principles of the Curriculum for Excellence?

There are 4 key aims of the CfE which outline what’s required from a learning environment for a child or young person to achieve their full potential.

By working towards these capacities, they will gain the necessary skills required to progress and will be confident in their own abilities.
These skills are key for future life including independent living, relationships, and employment.

Successful Learners

Rewarding learners when they’ve achieved something new or have improved their knowledge is a great way of encouraging them to keep learning. Whether it’s a sticker on their worksheet or verbal feedback, it helps children work towards becoming a better learner.

And remember if they make mistakes, that’s OK too. It’s about encouraging them to learn from these mistakes so they can continue to grow.

The idea of a successful learner goes beyond performance. Not only children develop a love for learning as some find it more difficult. As a teacher or parent, try and find out what they did enjoy about a certain activity and build that into future practices. This also goes beyond the classroom.

What do they enjoy doing in their free time? Do they enjoy working with other children? Exploring the different ways children learn and interact with their environment is an important part of helping them to become a successful learner.
child reading at the front of a room

Confident Individuals

Helping students become more secure and self assured in their own being is an important part of the Curriculum for Excellence.

There are different ways teachers and parents can do this to ensure a positive and healthy mentality. Children should be encouraged to learn something new and to make new discoveries. This includes trying new hobbies, foods, experiences as this will push them outside of their comfort zone.

Adults should also support children and young people to make healthy choices, including how they manage their physical, mental, social, and emotional health

At all times, children should be able to communicate with friends, family, and trusted figures about how they feel. This ensures early identification of any issues which could be resolved.

By taking the above principles into account, it helps children and young people improve their self esteem and have more confidence in themselves.

This relates both to their educational and personal development and will help secure long term positive beliefs.

Responsible Citizens

To become a responsible citizen, children and young people need to learn how to interact with other people. This is a key skill to functioning in society and enjoying a good quality of life.

These interactions include relationships with friends, peers, family, teachers, community members, or people who need their help. Children need to feel comfortable forming their own relationships and understand how to make decisions for themselves.

Throughout their education, children should be taught to be kind. They must understand the importance of other people’s feelings so they can behave and interact appropriately. If circumstances arise where they do upset someone else, they should understand how to manage the situation as this will happen in everyday life.

Learning to apologise also shows they are becoming a good citizen by being accountable for their own actions.
In the classroom setting, children will be engaging in various group work. As a result, they’ll learn how to care for other classmates and how to work collaboratively.

Small things such as tidying up after themselves or putting things away when asked, shows a positive attitude and is reflective of a responsible citizen.

Effective Contributors

This relates to how young children and people contribute to different tasks, and in a broader sense, wider society.

This gives children the opportunity to put what they have learnt into practice and as they understand how to communicate their ideas effectively.

Leadership skills are important here as by working well with others, they will be able to use their initiative and take responsibility. As the leader, they are in charge of managing their team and juggling different personalities.

They will feel a huge sense of achievement when they have managed to do this successfully and have solved a specific problem or task.

There are lots of small things children can do to contribute. They could tell a story or finish a piece of work, the main thing is they are doing something new. They will feel accomplished after the experience and will feel proud of what they have contributed.

How is the Curriculum Structured?

The Curriculum for Excellence covers a child’s education up to age 18.

Once a child reaches 15, they will enter into the final stages of the Curriculum which allows them to have a little more freedom. Although the standards are the same, in these older years, pupils have more involvement in their educational choices.

From nursery school, through to primary and secondary school, the courses that children engage in have been structured using government guidelines.

It’s divided into different stages of growth and development depending on your child’s age group.
In primary school:

  • Early Years: Nursery to Primary 1
  • First Level: Primary 2 to Primary 4
  • Second Level: Primary 5 to Primary 7

Once in secondary school, children will enter the final stages of the curriculum:

  • Third and Fourth Level: S1 to S3
  • Senior Phase: S4 to S6

Understanding and following these different stages is key as it structures a child’s learning and allows them to achieve the best possible outcomes.

By moving through these stages of development, children will be able to build the skills they need for higher education and the world of work.
child smiling in classroom

Development Matters: Using the EYFS Framework and Curriculum for Excellence

A child’s development needs to be supported throughout each stage of their education.

This extends beyond the classroom setting and gives children the skills they need to flourish in wider society.

The knowledge and experiences children learn in the classroom can help them manage the outside world, including their relationships and employment.

Nursery practitioners and teachers can deliver a good standard of education by following a structured framework. This sets out guidelines and standards of care to ensure a child receives the best possible learning experience.

At Learning Journals we support both parents and practitioners during a child’s development.

As a parent, you won’t want to miss a single moment of your child’s development and will want to see updates of their progress. With the learning Journals platform, you can easily monitor your child’s progression through limitless observations.

As a nursery practitioner, we make your life easier. With our platform, you can customise the settings to suit your framework of choice. Whether you’re using EYFS or the Curriculum for Excellence, Learning Journals can be adapted to suit your teaching criteria.

Want to see the benefits for yourself? Request your free trial and discover how the Learning Journals Platform supports development.

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