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Development Matters for Early Adopters on Tapestry

by Ben on November 10

N.B. Since this article was written, we have continued to discuss the 2021 changes to the EYFS and refine our approaches to them. Although this article is now outdated, we have retained it to show the journey we are all on – please read this article for an update on EYFS 2021 on Tapestry. 


When the new Development Matters materials were released on 3rd September 2020, there were many discussions about the contents of the document and how it could be used in settings. Schools were already back and those that had signed up to be Early Adopters went about reading the document that they were going to be using to assess the children over the coming year.

Over the next few days, more information came out about the document as people posed questions and Dr Julian Grenier did his best to answer them as quickly as he could – all while running a school during a pandemic too!

The biggest change to come out of the new Development Matters was the moving away from age bands to ‘pathways’ which were broken down to Birth to 3, 3 to 4 years, and Reception. Each of the Areas and Pathways have statements that give guidance on what a child could be displaying at that stage. One of the most often discussed results of the original guidance was that by having the statements listed, it became an onerous task to assess as some practitioners ticked off statements and looked for things that had not been covered already.  This wasn’t the fault of the document though – on every page it clearly stated that it was not to be used as a ticklist. When the new DMs was released, one of the toughest questions for us here at Tapestry was how to implement the new guidance on our platform without continuing a tick list type approach? We wanted to ensure that when an observation was added, it wasn’t taking up valuable time for the practitioner to assess, and that when it came to looking at the data, it provided useful and relevant information that helped with planning a curriculum that benefited the child.

We were fortunate enough to have a number of conversations with Dr Julian Grenier, as well as Gill Jones and Wendy Ratcliff from OFSTED, some of which have been released as videos that can be viewed on our YouTube channel. These discussions, and the new DMs guidance itself, informed the direction we have taken at Tapestry. Instead of providing the Development Matters statements as tickable options, we have added them as something to reference each time you are thinking about a child’s development. This allows everyone to become familiar with the new document by viewing those reference statements, and then, as practitioners know the guidance better, it can be used to support staff members who need a bit more support or have less experience. Instead of ticking off statements, we have added the ability to ‘flag’ the observation as being evidence towards an Area of Learning. This will create a bank of observations that have been flagged in that Area which can be referred back to when data is being compiled.

Because of this change, Tapestry will no longer be assessing the child using the information from observations. When it comes to completing data, the assessment screen will have the names of the children and the areas of learning. For each one, it will then be possible to say whether you feel that the child is working at a developmentally appropriate stage or not, using your professional judgement. There will also be the option to mark something as needing further discussion, highlighting where teams need to talk about a particular child’s development or give more thought to how they are progressing. In recorded discussions with our education team and on other platforms, Ofsted have reinforced their message that they will never go into a setting and ask to see data. We hope that this will reassure Tapestry users who are concerned about the absence of the option to select statements. The new inspection framework is centered around the child and the curriculum. Using the assessments to drive your planning and curriculum will be more important than saying how a child has made 3 points progress through the age bands. Tapestry’s approach enables you to have the information to hand, so you can see the children and/or areas where development is not happening as you would expect. You can use this to plan activities that will support those children in that area of development, and progress will be shown by these groups of children becoming smaller due to your planning having a real impact.

To use the new Development Matters 2020 on Tapestry, please check out the tutorials here.

We hope that as Early Adopters, you are able to lead the changes in assessment for the Early Years and that the new way of doing it via Tapestry works for you. As always though, please do let us know what you think and how it is working for you in your setting.


Product Support Technician and Education Advisor

As a Reception teacher at a school in Littlehampton, Ben was one of Tapestry's early customers. He made good use of the helpful Product Support Team, sending them lots of emails. Eventually, he was invited to come and meet everyone at ‘Tapestry Towers’. He must have made a good impression because a few years later he found himself at his very own desk at the new Tapestry HQ. Ben now uses his experience of teaching 4 year olds to help him adjust to working in an office - he finds it comes in handy with his colleagues, as well as making him a knowledgeable Education Advisor! He also tweets (a lot!) and runs the Tapestry Support Group on Facebook.