Accreditation: International schools do not need any accreditation to follow the EYFS, but you should expect teachers to be UK-qualified and with experience of teaching in UK schools.
What is it? The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a UK based framework for learning, development, and care of children from birth to five years old. All schools and early years’ providers in the UK follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.
At EYFS pre-schools you can expect a warm, playful, relaxed (and yet organised) environment that helps most children feel secure enough to play and to learn. There should be a structured timetable which allows for both adult and child led activities, a range of good quality toys, books, furniture and outdoor play equipment.
Children should learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships with their teacher, so look for teachers, known as “key workers” who really get to know and bond with your child, and great communication between home and nursery. Also, children are treated as individuals with individual strengths and interests; you should be looking for regular updates on your child’s developmental progress along with regular record keeping of their eating, sleeping, toileting and any accidents or illnesses.
Pros: The EYFS has very clear early learning goals for your child to work towards, and children learn by playing, exploring, being active. For example, at Tanglin Trust School, where the EYFS is followed in Reception (and in Nursery alongside The Curiosity Approach), children engage in hands-on experiences and role-play activities to explore ‘real life’ mathematics.
Compared to UK schools, Singapore schools offering the EYFS are likely to have lower teacher:student ratios. Many schools here will incorporate elements of the EYFS curriculum into a broader framework that includes daily Mandarin lessons, as well as specialist teaching in subjects such as music and swimming.
Cons: One of the most common criticisms of the EYFS is that it is too “structured and prescriptive”. There is no doubt that any emphasis on “milestones” and “planning” can make nursery feel “school-lite”. Indeed, the four lesser areas of the EYFS (Mathematics, Literacy, Expressive Arts and Understanding the World) seem like a curriculum that is working backwards from school. That said, the EYFS is a merely a framework and is open for interpretation by each school, and huge variations can exist from nursery to nursery.