Keeping Early Years Unique: Let's go back to the (grass) roots!

May 2021

Recently I have been thinking about the Keeping Early Years Unique movement. A post from one of our members reaffirmed what I know- Keeping Early Years Unique is a movement and a haven for anyone committed to a play based, child development rich, relationship focussed, no frills, evidence informed, tried and tested, pedagogically responsible early year’s experience for each child.

Keeping Early Years Unique began life 6 years ago with two members, two individual drops. Today the group has over 50,000 members, 50,000 drops in an early year’s ocean- and whilst the sheer amount of support gives me hope and inspiration- there is always the thought nagging in the back of my mind- how do we keep KEYU what I started KEYU to be? 


  • How can we hold onto KEYU values with so many of us in the ocean?
  • How do we keep the group unique so it does not become another page of painted tyres, cable reels and activity plans?
  • How can we make sure the absolute essence of KEYU is not diluted?


Therefore, with this in mind- I wanted to take some time to really clarify what Keeping Early Years Unique is and what it most definitely is not.   


1. Keeping Early Years Unique is all about children and their unique holistic development enriched by the power of their play. We view play as the most powerful, intrinsically driven vehicle for the learning that happens each and every day within our settings.


2. Keeping Early Years Unique is not a forum for asking about topics and themes- whilst the current reforms may be leading us back down this out of date road- it is not the road the Keeping Early Years Unique is on. Many of our members are on the alternative, empowering, child focussed road of teaching and learning “in the moment”. Despite the pressures and ideology coming from all angles-and the dangerous myth that In the moment is not enough- THIS is the road we are staying on. Why? Because it works! We know our children. We know our settings. 


3. Keeping Early Years Unique is not about over enhanced, labour intensive, learning limiting, fancy pants, levelled  provision- instead we are led and empowered by the work of the pioneers of past and present, where less is more, resources are open ended, meaningful, authentic and promote the statutory characteristics of effective learning.


4.Keeping Early Years Unique recognises, celebrates and advocates the holistic nature of children’s learning and development- we do not advocate tick lists or trying to fit learning into boxes and grids, maps or documents to define progress. We know that, to quote Birth to 5 Matters,  "The complex differences for each child mean the pathways toward maturity should be seen more as dancing around a ballroom than climbing a ladder." (p18)


5. Keeping Early Years Unique is a respectful movement, committed to long term change by challenging myths and inappropriate practice through discussion and debate.


6. When you join Keeping Early Years Unique, you join an ocean of activists working in partnership with a whole range of organisations including the NEUUpstart ScotlandMore than a Score, the Early Childhood Forum and the Early Years Coalition.


7. Keeping Early Years Unique will continue to campaign loudly and respectfully against the attempts to formalise learning for our children whenever and wherever they come from- whether it’s taking on OFSTED’s Bold Beginnings, the Governments Baseline Policy, or challenging the fatally flawed, developmentally inappropriate Early Years Reforms. We will continue to campaign for our children. We will march. We will start petitions. We will write open letters. We will write to MPs. We will keep talking to our colleagues and the families we work with. We will not stop.


8. Keeping Early Years Unique is committed to being part of the solution. Working in partnership with the Early Years Coalition-, we are proud to be a part of Birth to Five Matters- an alternative non-statutory EYs guidance with the child at the core. We will also continue to campaign for a birth to 7 EYFS in England. 



So that’s us. In a nutshell.


Are you a drop in our ocean?


If you are not a member yet and KEYU sounds like your kinda place- come and join us today and bring a friend! 


Please enter the code
* Required fields
There are no entries yet.