About the Early Years Foundation Stage:

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is for babies and young children up to the age of 5. Anyone who provides childcare for children in this age range (including childminders) must follow the requirements set out in it. Its aim is to ensure that all children are allowed to develop and learn according to their stage of development, through play and exploration of the world around them. For the EYFS, a child's stage of development should be considered more important than their chronological age.  

It was introduced to combine a series of previous frameworks, guidance and standards that covered children in this age range. In 2010/11, the original EYFS was reviewed by a panel chaired by Dame Claire Tickell, and a number of changes made to it, mainly to simplify the existing framework and make less paperwork for everyone!

The EYFS also works alongside the Every Child Matters initiative, started in 2003 after the death of Victoria Climbié.

Every Child Matters:

The Every Child Matters Initiative is a set of 5 outcomes which all the other national educational and child care strategies are supposed to work alongside and promote.

The outcomes are:

  •  Staying safe
  • Being healthy
  • Enjoying and achieving
  • Making a positive contribution
  • Achieving economic well being

For children under the age of 5, the EYFS is meant to provide the practical, day to day structure that allows the children to achieve these outcomes.

Themes and Requirements of the EYFS:

The four main requirements of the EYFS are:

A Unique Child

Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

Positive relationships

Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person.

Enabling Environments

The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children's development and learning.

Learning and Development

Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of Learning and Development are equally important and interconnected.

Additionally, there are also specific and general legal requirements for all providers to uphold.  

Areas of Learning and Development:

The EYFS is made up of six areas of learning and development, which are divided into Prime Areas and Specific Areas of development:

Prime Areas:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional development (PSED)
  • Communication, Language (C&L)
  • Physical development (PD)

Specific Areas:

  • Literacy (L)
  • Mathematics (M)
  • Understanding of the World (UW)
  • Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)

Everything that a child does falls naturally into one of these areas. When observing a child, anyone following the EYFS will fit their activity into one of the areas of learning, allowing an overall picture of the child's individual development stage and ability to emerge. This helps to determine any particular strengths or weaknesses that a child has, and allows appropriate intervention to be made if necessary. 

Welfare Requirements of the EYFS:

There are also 5 welfare requirements within the EYFS that complement the themes:

  • Safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare
  • A suitable person
  • Suitable premises, environment and equipment
  • Organisation
  • Documentation

These requirements are fully backed up by child welfare law and any provider failing to meet them is liable for prosecution. There is a more detailed explanation of the welfare requirements for the EYFS on the national strategies website.

Key Person:

Each child in a group setting must be assigned a Key Person. The key person has special responsibilities for a small group of children giving them reassurance, allowing them to feel safe and cared for, and building relationships with their parents to ensure that each child has a good continuity of care between home and any childcare setting the child attends.

The key person plays a vital role in a child’s life and should always demonstrate consistency and sensitivity as well as being responsive to the child’s needs. They should engage, interact and connect with a child and their family. They will observe, assess, record and plan according to each child's individual needs.

Two Year Old Progress Check:

When children are between the ages of 24 and 30 months (2 to 2 1/2 years) old they undergo a two year old health check with a health visitor. A child who attends a childcare provider should also receive a 2 Year Old Progress Check from their provider, giving a brief summary of their development and achievements within the EYFS. 

Usually this is given to parents to pass on to their Health Visitor as an additional observation over time of a child's development. It may flag up any concerns that the childcare provider has noticed while the child is attending. 

Any issues raised in the 2 Year Old Progress Check by the childcare providers should be discussed with parents when they are sent the report, so that the parents can discuss them with the Health Visitor. A copy of the 2 Year Old Progress Check is part of the Early Years Profile that should be passed on when a child leave to start at a new setting.

Early Years Profile:

All the information that is collected while using the EYFS goes into each child's individual profile. This is just a file or a folder that shows how the child has developed and grown over time. It should always be shared with the child, their parents and any other carers (including teachers or childcarers). 

Usually, a profile will include things like any photos of activities or outings, pictures the child has done, the child's own comments, observations by parents and carers and copies of formal reports or assessments. It is usually arranged in chronological order, with some cross referencing between all the child's achievements and the different areas of learning in the EYFS. 

A child's profile should also be moved between different settings as a child moves on. For example, a profile started by a childminder should go with a child when they start school, so that the teachers already know something about the abilities and development of the children in their class. Likewise, a school should make a pupil's profile available to the childminder so that appropriate support and planning can take place out of school. 

For the most part, the profile is used to help with any planning, and as a tool to support a child's individual learning and development of any areas of interest.