28. Jul, 2016

Going to work, having a young child

What is the EYFS anyway?

EYFS stands for the Early Years Foundation Stage. It applies to nurseries, pre-schools and childminders but also to the reception year at school.

There are two main documents that inform the EYFS. They are the "Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage” and “Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) *


“The EYFS sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life”. In 3 sections it describes what providers must do to meet the prescribed Learning and Development, Assessment and Safeguarding requirements.


There are 7 areas of Learning and Development that are used to shape childcare experiences and early years education. The Prime Areas are considered to be essential for preparing children to learn, they are:

o Communication and Language (CL)

o Physical Development (PD)

o Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)

Up to the age of 2, these are the main areas that are considered and assessed and form the basis of the 2 year check (see Assessment). The four remaining Specific areas are introduced throughout a child’s caring experience and interweave with the Prime areas from an early age, but become more significant after the child is 2 years old, in order to ensure school readiness.

o Literacy (L)

o Mathematics (M)

o Understanding the World (UW)

o Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)

The document “Development matters” goes in to greater detail about what to expect from children at various ages in relation to each area. This detail informs assessment and suggests ways that providers can enhance their provision in order to maximise the child’s experience and learning in relation to them.


Children within the EYFS are assessed every day through observation. (Formative assessment) There are no formal assessments and the children do not know that they are being assessed. The time taken to conduct the assessment should not interfere with the care and attention provided to your child.

Providers may do this informally, adjusting activities and provision according to what they have seen, on a day to day basis; or formally, recording in daily diaries, learning journeys or other observation logs, especially when key development points have been met. This should also be done in partnership with parents as part of an on-going conversation.

As well as this day to day assessment there are two statutory assessments that must be completed.

• The progress Check at Age two and

• Assessment at the end of EYFS – this comes at the end of your child’s reception year at school, and so will be completed by the school in most cases. Among other things it helps to inform your child’s transition from reception to Year 1.

Between the child’s 2nd and 3rd birthdays the provider must complete the two year progress check
and provide parents with a short written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas.
The report must identify the child’s strengths, and any areas where the child’s progress is less than expected. Emerging concerns or identified special educational needs (SEN) or disability in turn inform the provider’s plan to support that child’s future learning and development. If the provider has known your child for a good length of time, you should be well aware of your child’s achievements and any concerns, but this is a nice milestone document to receive and keep.
Beyond the prime areas, it is for practitioners to decide what the written summary contains, based on the individual child’s strengths and weaknesses.


Finally, in order of appearance in the statutory guidance, but most likely considered first by providers, are the Safeguarding and welfare requirements.

“Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure... Providers must take all necessary steps to keep children safe and well. The requirements in this section explain what early years providers must do to:
safeguard children; (including child protection, health & safety, food safety)
ensure the suitability of adults who have contact with children;
promote good health;
manage behaviour; and
maintain records, policies and procedures”

The range and depth of what is covered by this section is vast, requires a considerable amount of upkeep and occasionally requires parents’ input in terms of acknowledging receipt of various policies and signing permissions and medical/accident forms as and when appropriate.

This is a very brief run through of the framework and its requirements, if it has prompted more questions than answers, your relevant Family Information Service will have information and signposts or indeed ask your selected provider for more information. Good ones will be only to pleased to engage in conversation about this.