The statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from when they are born to the age of five.
This is an important developmental stage of a child’s life and the framework is designed to help children learn and develop skills, as well as ensuring they are kept safe and healthy.
It came into effect in 2008, was updated last on the 3rd April 2017 and is mandatory for all Early Years providers in England. This includes:
- Maintained and non-maintained schools
- Independent schools, including free schools and academies
- Providers on the Early Years Register
- Providers registered with an Early Years Childminder Agency (CMA)
These will vary depending on the age the children, as follows:
- Under two: one member of staff (at least) for every three children
- Aged two: one member of staff (at least) for every four children
- Aged three to five: one member of staff (at least) for every eight children, unless the practitioner has ‘qualified teacher status’ and then it is 1:13
These figures can vary for childminding and at schools or Early Years providers where those working with the children do not have certain qualifications.
More detailed information is available in the Department for Education guidance document.
The framework recognises that children learn in different ways, however, there are specific learning requirements to ensure that they have a wide range of skills, knowledge and attitudes to provide a foundation for their progress in later life.
The three prime areas that will help children to learn, form relationships and thrive are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
These are strengthened through provision in the following four areas:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
All should be carried out through planned, purposeful play, both led by the providers and initiated by the child. This should include: playing and exploring; active learning; creating and thinking critically.
Assessing a child’s learning and development
Both Ofsted and those who inspect independent schools now use this framework when inspecting and reporting on Early Years provision.
A child’s progress should be monitored and assessed on an ongoing basis, through observation and written summaries at different stages, as outlined in the Statutory Framework.
If any child is not showing progress in a particular area, it is important for the practitioner to discuss the issue with the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and to encourage the sharing of information, including that gathered by health visitors, so that strengths and developmental issues can be identified and addressed.
A final EYFS Profile assessment should be completed for every child in the final term of the year in which the child reaches their fifth birthday.
Providers are required to “take all necessary steps” to keep children safe and well.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Ensuring a child’s individual needs are met
- Providing quality settings that are safe, stimulating and welcoming
- Managing behaviour
- Maintaining records, policies and procedures
- Ensuring those working with children are suitably qualified
- Being aware of issues of concern (at home or elsewhere)
- Reporting any serious issues to the relevant authorities
Staff should be trained and have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding issues. This includes having regard to government statutory guidance on safeguarding and Prevent (see our blog on What is Prevent and why does it exist?).
We will be looking into some of these issues in more detail in future blogs.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in finding out more about apprenticeships and working with young children, take a look at our blog: Early Years Education – Level 2 & 3.