Primary School

Believe you can SHINE

Get in touch

Contact Details

Social Media

Development Matters 2021

Guide to Development Matters 2020 (revised July 2021)


On 23rd July 2021, the DfE released an updated version of Development Matters, the government's Non-Statutory Curriculum Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). 

The new Development Matters Guidance 2020 (revised July 2021) has been written for all early years practitioners - childminders, staff in nurseries, and Nursery and Reception classes in school.

It is intended to support the delivery of the Revised Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework (Published: 31 March 2021, Effective: 1 September 2021).


The updated Development Matters 2020 (revised July 2021) remains a non-statutory guidance that sets out the pathways of children’s development from birth to a child’s year in Reception. It is now arranged into broad ages and stages and includes examples of how practitioners can support children at each stage.  Despite this, it is understood that young children do not learn in linear, neat, orderly ways. Therefore, the purpose of these pathways in Development Matters is to help practitioners to assess each child’s level of development, and not to be used as checklists.



The Seven Key Features of Effective Practice


Development Matters 2020 (revised July 2021) also lists the seven key features of effective practice. 


  • (1) The best for every child:
    • This theme focuses on the value that all children deserve to receive high-quality, inclusive early education and to have an equal chance at success. It seeks to support children who have special educational needs and disabilities, those who have lived through difficult experiences and those who may come from disadvantaged backgrounds.


  • (2) High quality care:
    • This theme focuses upon the value that the child’s experience must always be central to the thinking of every practitioner. It describes how practitioners should be delivering consistent and responsive high-quality care. This care understands (and adapts to) the needs of the child at their particular stage of development.


  • (3) The curriculum (what we want children to learn):
    • This theme explains how an ambitious curriculum is a top-level plan of everything an early years setting wants the children to learn.
    • Planning should be flexible and is often driven by the interests of the child. There is an emphasis on the depth of early learning (as opposed to wider coverage).


  • (4) Pedagogy (helping children to learn):
    • This theme focuses upon the value that children are powerful learners.  Every child can make progress in their learning, with the right help:
    • The importance of high quality play is outlined - both that which is led by the child and that which is supported or extended by an adult. However, the guidance also states that children learn through group work and that older children need more of this guided learning.


  • (5) Assessment (checking what children have learnt):
    • This theme focuses on the value of assessment - it's about noticing what children can do and what they know (and not about lots of data and evidence).


  • (6) Childrens' Self-regulation and executive function:
    • This theme focuses upon the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Executive function abilities contribute to the child’s growing ability to self regulate.
    • Executive Function abilities highlighted are: holding information in mind, focussing attention, thinking flexibly and inhibiting impulsive behaviour.
    • Self Regulation abilities highlighted are: concentrating thinking, planning what to do next, monitoring what they are doing and adapting, regulating strong feelings, being patient, bouncing back when things get difficult. 
    • There is an emphasis on the importance of language in the development of self-regulation as children use language to guide their actions and plans. Play, particularly pretend play, provides children with the opportunity to focus their thinking, persist with tasks and plan ahead.


  • (7) Partnership with parents:
    • This theme focuses upon the importance of parents and early years settings having a strong and respectful partnership: this sets the scene for children to thrive in the early years.
    • The help that parents give their children has a significant impact on their learning and encouraging all parents to chat, play and read with their children is vital.