How to Follow Development Matters in RE

Written by Dan

Last updated

Development Matters is a guidance document that supports early years practitioners in implementing the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum.

It offers a comprehensive understanding of children’s developmental stages and expected learning outcomes in RE (Religious Education) and other areas of learning.

By following Development Matters, educators can effectively plan educational activities and experiences catering to children’s needs and interests.

RE fosters understanding and respect for different religious beliefs and values. It contributes to the holistic development of children by nurturing their spiritual, moral, social, and cultural growth.

In an EYFS setting, implementing Development Matters allows practitioners to develop tailored teaching approaches and assess children’s progress in RE.

Utilising this guidance enhances the quality of learning experiences, helping young learners make meaningful connections with the world around them.

Key Takeaways

  • Development Matters supports educators in implementing the EYFS curriculum, including RE
  • Emphasis on understanding individual children’s needs encourages tailored teaching approaches
  • Following the guidance ensures the delivery of high-quality learning experiences

Understanding Development Matters and EYFS Curriculum

Key Changes to the Framework

One of the significant changes in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum is the introduction of the updated Development Matters guidance. This non-statutory guidance aims to help practitioners follow the curriculum effectively.

The updated framework ensures a quality education experience, focusing on crucial aspects like the early learning goals, education programmes, and seven areas of learning.

Main changes include:

  • Revised early learning goals: The EYFS framework has revised early learning goals, focusing more on the essential knowledge and skills needed for a strong foundation.
  • Simplified assessment requirements: The updated framework simplifies the assessment process for children, offering a more accurate understanding of a child’s progress across the curriculum.
  • Greater emphasis on language development: Language and communication skills now hold increased importance within the education programmes of the curriculum.
  • Improved curriculum alignment: EYFS curriculum changes have been introduced to ensure better alignment with the primary education curriculum, facilitating a smoother transition for children.

Principles of Early Learning

The updated Development Matters guidance is based on critical principles for early learning in the EYFS curriculum. These principles provide a solid foundation for the statutory framework and guide practitioners in promoting children’s welfare, learning, and development.

Below are the main principles of early learning:

  1. Prime areas: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, and Physical Development form the three prime areas of learning in the EYFS curriculum. These are vital for children’s healthy development and future learning.
  2. Specific areas: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design comprise four specific areas of learning that supplement the prime areas. They help children broaden their knowledge and skills for future success.
  3. A Unique Child: The EYFS curriculum recognises that every child has unique characteristics, abilities, and learning styles. Practitioners should adapt their approach accordingly.
  4. Enabling environments: High-quality learning environments should be created to support children in their learning journey. A positive, engaging, and inclusive space promotes learning and development.
  5. Learning and development: Children learn and develop through play, exploration, and by forming relationships with others. Practitioners should facilitate and scaffold learning, tailoring their approach to individual needs and interests.

By understanding the fundamental changes to the framework and early learning principles, practitioners will be better equipped to create a practical learning experience for children within the updated EYFS curriculum.

Roles and Responsibilities in RE

Re teaching

Educators and Practitioners

In the context of religious education (RE) within Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), educators and practitioners play a crucial role in children’s development.

They are responsible for planning and implementing activities that cater to the seven areas of learning as outlined in the Development Matters document. This includes incorporating elements of RE into their teaching, which helps to lay the foundation for Reception classes.

Staff should utilise their professional judgement to adapt activities based on children’s needs, interests, and abilities. This involves creating opportunities for children to explore and learn about different faiths, beliefs, and traditions while fostering an open and inclusive environment.

Some strategies that practitioners can use to support children’s learning in RE may include:

  • Engaging in group discussions and storytelling
  • Incorporating art, music, and drama to explore religious themes
  • Utilising visual aids, such as posters and artefacts, to facilitate learning experiences
  • Encouraging social interactions and collaborative learning among children

Engagement with Parents and Carers

Establishing a strong partnership with parents and carers is essential for promoting children’s holistic development in RE. Educators and practitioners should work closely with parents to involve them in their children’s learning journey.

This can be achieved through regular communication, sharing of resources, and providing suggestions for supporting children’s learning at home.

Parents and carers can contribute to the learning process by:

  1. Sharing their own religious beliefs, practices, and experiences with educators and practitioners
  2. Participating in school events or activities related to RE
  3. Providing feedback and input on their children’s progress and development

Educators and practitioners encourage a supportive and nurturing learning environment that extends beyond the classroom by involving parents and carers in the educational process.

This collaborative approach ensures that children receive consistent and well-rounded exposure to RE, fostering their understanding and appreciation of diverse faiths and traditions.

Effective Teaching Strategies

Incorporating Play and Care

Incorporating play and care into RE lessons is essential to ensure effective teaching and learning. Children can explore, experiment, and interact with their environment through play, promoting communication and language development.

Using a multi-sensory approach, educators can create engaging, stimulating, and interactive learning experiences that enable children to grasp key concepts and ideas effectively. Examples of play-based activities include role-playing, storytelling, and group discussions.

One key aspect of play is ensuring children feel safe and cared for throughout the learning process.

This can be achieved by fostering a supportive and inclusive classroom environment, promoting social and emotional well-being, and providing clear guidance and feedback to help children understand their progress.

Observation and Assessment Techniques

Observation and assessment techniques are crucial in tracking and supporting children’s learning and development in RE.

Regular observations help educators to identify individual needs, strengths, and areas for improvement, ensuring that every child receives tailored support to excel in their learning journey.

Assessment techniques in RE can include the following:

  • Formative assessments, which are ongoing evaluations of a child’s progress during lessons. These can be informal, such as observation of group activities, or formal, such as written responses to assignments.
  • Summative assessments, which are evaluations of a child’s overall progress at specific points in the academic year (e.g., end of term or end of the school year). Summative assessments may include presentations, projects, or exams.

To ensure that observation and assessment techniques are effective, educators should:

  1. Develop clear learning objectives: Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives for each lesson and communicate them clearly to students.
  2. Use a variety of assessment tools: Employ diverse assessment methods to capture the full range of a child’s abilities, including written, oral, and practical assessments.
  3. Provide constructive feedback: Offer timely and constructive feedback that highlights strengths, identifies areas for improvement, and suggests specific strategies for development.
  4. Promote self-assessment and reflection: Encourage children to reflect on their learning experiences and progress to help them take responsibility for their development and better understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

By implementing effective teaching strategies, incorporating play and care, and utilising observation and assessment techniques, educators can ensure that they provide a high-quality RE experience that aligns with Development Matters and promotes children’s holistic learning and development.

Enhancing Learner Progression


Tracking Development and Progress

In Religious Education (RE), early years practitioners must consistently monitor child development and progress. Tools like the Development Matters guidance can provide a clear roadmap for understanding the general pathways of children’s growth.

Moreover, it is essential to create an active learning environment that encourages engagement and interaction amongst students.

By carefully observing and documenting student achievements, you can identify patterns and areas for improvement. This information can then be used to tailor your teaching strategies and help learners make progress in a more targeted manner.

Additionally, incorporating different learning modes such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, can lead to better results in pupil outcomes.

Supporting Diverse Learning Needs

A cornerstone of progression in RE is ensuring an inclusive classroom that caters to the diverse learning needs of every child. This involves paying close attention to children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Fostering an adaptive and flexible environment is critical to effectively support a wide range of learners. Consider utilising the following approaches:

  • Differentiated instruction: Tailor tasks and instruction styles based on individual abilities and preferences.
  • Collaborative learning: Encourage students to work in small groups, benefiting from the strengths of their peers and promoting a sense of community.
  • Visual aids: Utilise images, diagrams, and videos that demonstrate key concepts and enhance understanding.
  • Regular feedback: Provide constructive and timely feedback to students, encouraging self-reflection and adjustments.

Ultimately, by embracing diversity and adopting a more comprehensive approach to teaching, early years practitioners can ensure that every child in the RE classroom has the opportunity to succeed and progress.

Reviewing and Revising EYFS Practices

Development matters

Following Development Matters, in the context of RE, involves reviewing and revising practices in early years settings, such as childminders, nurseries, and early adopter schools. The focus of this process is to ensure the safeguarding and welfare of children, as well as reflecting on feedback to promote effective practice.

Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements

When considering the safeguarding and welfare requirements, settings should prioritise children’s interests, safety, and well-being. This includes:

  1. Ensuring staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding children.
  2. Having robust policies and procedures in place that address potential issues of harm and abuse.
  3. Regularly reviewing and updating these policies as required by local authorities or the EYFS reforms.
  4. Promoting positive behaviour, relationships, and communication between staff, children, and their families.
  5. Supporting children’s physical, emotional, and social development, as well as their educational needs.

By focusing on these aspects, settings can create a safe and nurturing environment that enables children to learn effectively.

Reflection and Feedback Processes

Incorporating reflection and feedback processes into RE practices allows settings to improve the quality of their provision continually. Teachers, childminders, and other practitioners should:

  1. Keep up-to-date with the latest research and evidence-based approaches to RE, and seek opportunities for professional development.
  2. Regularly assess the effectiveness of teaching strategies and resources, and adapt their planning and design accordingly.
  3. Collaborate with colleagues and share insights on what works well, or how to address challenges that arise during teaching.
  4. Seek feedback from children and families, listening to their views and incorporating their perspectives into practice.
  5. Evaluate the impact of RE on children’s learning and development, and share successes with parents or carers.

In ensuring that RE practices are regularly reviewed and revised in line with Development Matters, settings can help children achieve the best possible outcomes.

By prioritising safeguarding and welfare requirements and embracing ongoing reflection and feedback processes, practitioners can continue to develop their skills and create a positive, engaging learning environment for children.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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