Early Years

Supporting Teaching and Learning

Supporting Teaching and Learning

The following definition of teaching in the Early Years can be found in the Early Years Inspection Handbook and the School Inspection Handbook:

'Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term that covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language; showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas; encouraging, questioning, recalling; providing a narrative for what they are doing; facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment adults provide and the attention given to the physical environment, as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations. Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do, as well as taking account of their interests and dispositions to learn (characteristics of effective learning), and how practitioners use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.'


Teaching includes:
  • positive interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities.
  • taking account of the enabling learning environment including the structure and routines of the day that establishes expectations.
  • assessing what children know, understand, and can do, including taking into account children’s interests and dispositions to learning (characteristics of effective learning).
  • using information to plan the next steps for learning and ensuring all children make good progress relative to their starting points (the observation, assessment, and planning cycle).

The following outstanding descriptor for the Quality of Education can be found in the Early Years Inspection Handbook:

‘The impact of the curriculum on what children know, can remember and do is highly effective. Children demonstrate this through being deeply engaged in their work and play and sustaining high levels of concentration. Children, including those children from disadvantaged backgrounds, do well. Children with SEND achieve the best possible outcomes.'


Excellent teaching

Where excellent teaching takes place, adults support children in their learning by:

  • promoting opportunities for play both indoors and out, alone and with others, quietly or boisterously. This allows children to find out about things, try out and practise ideas and skills, take risks, explore their feelings, learn from mistakes, be in control and think imaginatively. Playing is an important feature of learning for young children. Read More


Enabling Learning Environments

The statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that one of the overarching principles that should shape practice in all Early Years settings is that children learn and develop well in enabling environments.

Getting the environment right for your community of children and giving them access to a well-considered continuous provision takes a lot of thought and effort. While there is no universally agreed definition, continuous provision is resourced for the children to explore, make choices, initiate play and consolidate learning across the areas of learning. The selected resources should support the curriculum, interests and support next steps and depth of learning. It should also give children the opportunity to demonstrate the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning (CETL). The environment should follow on from adult-led learning around skills, knowledge and experiences taught as part of your curriculum. Read More

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