The early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets 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.
There are assessments when a child is aged between 2 and 3 years and at the end of the academic year when they turn 5. These are not tests for the child - the assessments are based on EYFS practitioners’ observations.
Information from these assessments is used for parents, practitioners and teachers to support children’s learning and development.
Early years learning concentrates on 7 areas split between prime and specific areas of learning.
The prime areas of learning are:
- communication and language
- physical development
- personal, social and emotional development
The specific areas of learning are:
- understanding the world
- expressive arts and design
Teaching is often done through play, where the child learns about subjects and other people through games.
Early years foundation stage profile
At the end of the academic year when a child turns 5, the practitioner records each child’s development by watching the child playing and in the classroom. The completed assessment is known as the ‘early years foundation stage profile’. This is used to help the year 1 teacher plan lessons for the children.
Staff working to support the early learning of young children use Development Matters as part of daily observation, assessment and planning. It can also be used at points during the EYFS as a guide to making best-fit summative judgements, with parents and colleagues across agencies, in relation to whether a child is showing typical development, may be at risk of delay or is ahead for their age.
Below is guidance on the standards that schools and childcare providers must meet for the learning, development and care of children under 5.