The latest version of the UK addendum to the ECERS-R can be downloaded here. (11/12/2014)

The latest version of the UK addendum to the ITERS-R can be downloaded here. (11/12/2014)

The ECERS and other Environment Rating Scales are used in many countries across the world. As with any international tool, a commonly asked question is ‘how appropriate is it for our UK context’?

The Environment Rating Scales fit very well with UK guidance and standards and can help settings and local authorities to meet their obligations under EYFS. However, as with any tool, there are elements which may suit some contexts better than others. In some cases you may find that an individual statement or item does not exactly meet your needs. Although it is tempting for individuals to bend the scales to their own requirements, we would not advise doing this on an ad hoc basis. If different users interpret the statements in different ways - keeping the bits they ‘like’ and discarding or adapting the bits they ‘don’t like’ - then we lose the power of comparison.Without consistency in use and definition, it will be impossible to tell whether differences in ratings are due to actual differences in quality - or due to the fact that different observers are interpreting the statements/ indicators in different ways. For the majority of small differences between the ECERS/ITERS and UK expectations, we suggest that users rate according to the ECERS definition – but adapt the action following an observation accordingly. Where the scale/s are not perceived as going far enough, the recommendation is that the scales are used in conjunction with other tools, i.e., as one tool in a ‘toolkit’ of approaches.

However, there are a small number of aspects of the ECERS (and other scales) which have caused greater debate within the UK. These relate mainly to the way that the scales assess supervision of children and handwashing/hygiene practices, and it is in these areas that greater variation between the ECERS and commonly held UK expectations of ‘quality’ can be seen. For example the Environment Rating Scales generally consider that, in order to be safe, children should be within view of an adult at all times, including when they go to the toilet. In the UK, whilst valuing safety, we might also want to balance supervision needs with children’s need for privacy.

We do not want to create a ‘UK ECERS’ entirely separate to the American scale – we feel that the benefits of using an internationally recognized tool outweigh the benefits of having a tool which is exactly tailored towards our requirements. This is also the position of the American authors, Thelma Harms, Richard Clifford and Debby Cryer. Rather than creating a complete ‘UK ECERS’ we have permission from the authors to create a ‘UK addendum’ to supplement the existing ECERS. The UK addendum to the ECERS-R lists the most important amendments which are necessary for ECERS and other Environment Rating Scales to fit the UK context, and to ensure that use of the scale in the UK gives the appropriate messages to practitioners working with young children.

The revision was developed with the help of a local authority panel and reference to the English Health Protection Agency Guidelines and the Early Years Foundation Stage 2014.  It is intended for use by users of the ECERS-R in the UK, and aims to align the ECERS-R with UK guidance and standards in the small number of instances where there are differences. It identifies recommended changes to the scoring of the ECERS-R scale, the ‘All About the ECERS-R’ and the latest US ‘Additional Notes for Clarification’ available at the time of publication (September 2014, see, resulting from a cross-referencing exercise with the HPA Guidance and the EYFS, and consultation with UK stakeholders.

We very much welcome your comments and questions and have set up an email address for responses and suggestions ( The addendum panel will meet periodically to review the addendum and consider any suggested changes. We cannot promise that we will respond individually to your emails but we will review suggestions regularly to inform future revisions of the addendum.