Characteristics of Effective Learning

Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) are a revived element in the current Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). CoEL advocate that in planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn, and then reflect these in their practice. A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment.

The three characteristics of effective teaching and learning identified by the EYFS are:
Playing and Exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’. Sub headings within this COEL are; curiosity, representing experiences and taking risks.    
Active Learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements. Sub headings within this COEL are; persistence, concentration and sense of achievement.

Creating and Thinking Critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.Sub headings within this COEL are; having own ideas, making links and reviewing.

The focus of the CoELs is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoELs is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence, why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.

During their time within the EYFS at Hillcross, evidence will be collected of the children displaying these characteristics and uploaded to Evidence Me!. This allows staff to build a holistic picture of the children and ensures we can plan for their next steps. It also allows practitioners to adapt and develop the environment in which the children learn and plan of future teaching and learning opportunities, to ensure every child can continue to learn and develop these characteristics for life long learning.


Hillcross Primary School, Ashridge Way, Morden, Surrey, SM4 4EE

020 8542 6936