What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

Early Years Foundation Stage

Click here to download the parent's guide to the EYFS.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (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.

The EYFS specifies requirements for learning and development and for safeguarding children and promoting their welfare.

The learning and development requirements cover:

  • The Seven Areas Of Learning And Development which must shape activities and experiences (educational programmes) for children in all early years settings.
  • The Early Learning Goals that providers must help children work towards. The goals summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young children should have gained by the end of the Reception year, i.e. the year that they turn five years old.
  • Assessment Arrangements for Measuring Progress when and how practitioners must assess children's achievements, and when and how they should discuss children's progress with parents and/or carers.
  • The Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements cover the steps that providers must take to keep children safe and promote their welfare.

Overarching Principles of the EYFS

Four guiding principles should shape practice in early years settings. These are:

  • Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
  • Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
  • Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
  • Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.

The Seven Areas of Learning and Development:

There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape educational programmes in early years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children's curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.

These three areas, the prime areas, are:

  • Communication and Language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
  • Physical Development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.

Providers must also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:

  • Literacy involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials including books, poems, and other written materials to ignite their interest.
  • Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.
  • Understanding The World involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
  • Expressive Arts and Design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.

For further information please contact us.