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Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered Early Years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

The EYFS Statutory Framework sets out the statutory commitments for all providers.

The Ofsted Early Years Inspection Handbook (September 2023) provides outline guidance and grade descriptors for the judgements that Ofsted inspectors will report on when inspecting registered early years providers who deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage

Learning and development
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Early Years learning concentrates on seven areas split between prime and specific areas of learning.

The prime areas of learning are:

  • communication and language development
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development.

The specific areas of learning are:

  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design.

To support practitioners understanding of child development through the early years the following documents have been created and can be used by childminders, nurseries and others, such as Ofsted, throughout the early years as a guide to making best-fit judgements about whether a child is showing typical development for their age, may be at risk of delay or is ahead for their age. It is a guide to typical development while recognising that children develop at their own rates and in their own ways.

Development matters
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Development Matters is non-statutory guidance showing how the four themes of the EYFS Framework and the principles that inform them work together to support babies and children. It illustrates how the characteristics of effective teaching and learning may be supported and extended by adults as well as how they underpin the prime and specific areas of learning and development.

Birth to 5 matters
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Birth To 5 Matters is a non-statutory guide created by the Early Years Coalition to support practitioners in their statutory responsibilities within the EYFS.

Assessment in the EYFS
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Robust observation, assessment and planning procedures are at the centre of effective early years practice.

Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests and stage of development of each child in their care to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for in all areas of learning and development.

The EYFS requires practitioners to review children's progress and share a summary (summative assessment) with parents at two points:

Contact details
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Early Years and Childcare Improvement Services
Website: The Education People website