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Birth to 5 matters

Birth to 5 matters is a piece of non-statutory guidance for EY settings. 

Birth to 5 Matters provides comprehensive guidance, drawing on previous guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which has been updated in order to reflect recent research, to meet the needs of practitioners, to respond to current issues in society, to meet the needs of children today and to lay a strong foundation for their futures.

The purpose of the guidance includes reaffirming core principles which recognise:

  • the child at the centre of practice
  • the child’s connections within family, communities, cultures and the natural world
  • the need to consider the whole child: physical, social and emotional wellbeing, health, and learning
  • the child’s rights as a member of society under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), including:
    • Non-discrimination (article 2)
    • Best interest of the child (article 3)
    • Goals of education (article 29)
    • Right to be heard (article 12)
    • Right to play (article 31)
    • Right to freedom of expression (article 13)
    • Right to freedom of thought, belief and religion (article 14)
    • Right for children with a disability to live a full and decent life (article 23)
    • Right to learn and use the language, customs and religion of their family (article 30)
  • the sector’s responsibilities under the United Nations Sustainability Goals and UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development
  • the statutory requirements of the SEND Code of Practice.

You can download a copy of the guidance on the Birth to 5 matter website (opens link in new window), or by clicking the image below.

It is a legal requirement to adhere to the Statutory Framework for the EYFS.  Non-statutory guidance is documentation which there is no legal requirement to use, even if it has been provided and published by the government.  Development Matters is non-statutory guidance published by government.  Birth to 5 Matters is non-statutory guidance published by the sector.  The status of the two documents is essentially the same.

Every aspect of the learning and development requirements in the statutory EYFS is reflected in Birth to 5 Matters, so practitioners can be confident that if they use Birth to 5 Matters as a guide they will find support to fully implement the EYFS. Birth to 5 Matters will support practitioners in their statutory responsibilities within the EYFS to help children make progress within the seven Areas of Learning and Development in line with the Educational Programmes.   

The Educational Programmes do not identify any aspects (the sub-headings) within the seven Areas. In some cases, the way we have organised aspects does not match the structure of sub-headings listed in the EYFS 2021 Early Learning Goals (ELGs), because we have used a more logical arrangement aligning with child development knowledge.  The ELGS are an assessment for the end of the reception year only, and the EYFS states clearly that they should not be used as a curriculum. How you organise the aspects within your curriculum is not a requirement.

It is completely up to you to choose to use any guidance that you find helpful in your practice.  Birth to 5 Matters has been provided by the Early Years Coalition of major sector organisations as optional guidance to support practice in implementing the statutory EYFS.  It has the same status as Development Matters (2020), which has been provided by the government as optional guidance to support implementing the statutory EYFS. Both the Department for Education and Ofsted have made it clear that there is no expectation that you will refer to any particular non-statutory guidance.  You could choose to use either Birth to 5 Matters or Development Matters (2020), or use them both, or use neither.  You are equally free to refer to previous EYFS guidance, or guidance from other countries.

Most of the guidance in Birth to 5 Matters is relevant for all children, and inclusive practice involves the same attention to understanding and responding to children’s needs whether or not they have SEND.  The Birth to 5 Matters trajectories for Areas of Learning and Development may be useful in identifying the range which most closely describes a child’s levels of development and learning.  The trajectories, however, are designed to illustrate examples of typical patterns of learning and development and are not sufficiently detailed to include the smaller steps of progress that would be important for children with SEND.  Additional resources will be most useful for practitioners supporting children with SEND.  The online version of Birth to 5 Matters will contain links to appropriate tools and case studies to illustrate effective processes to support children with SEND.

Last updated: 21/05/2021

Useful links

Birth to 5 matters

Birth to 5 matters