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“The Early Years: Foundation for Life, Health and Learning”

Volume 526: debated on Tuesday 29 March 2011

The importance of the early years—as a foundation for life and for future attainment and success—cannot be overestimated. Children’s personal, social, emotional, language and physical development are of paramount importance, and without strong foundations in these areas children will struggle as they develop in life, with friends and in school. That is why it is vital we have the right framework to support high-quality early-years education.

Progress has been made in improving young children’s outcomes, but there is more to be done. Recognising this, in July last year I asked Dame Clare Tickell to launch an independent review of the early years foundation stage (EYFS). This sets out the standards that all early-years settings have to meet to help provide children with the best start, and so it is essential this is as strong as it can be. I am pleased to announce that tomorrow Dame Clare will be publishing the findings of her review in the report “The Early Years: Foundations for life, health and learning”. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

I asked Dame Clare to consider four main areas:

Scope of regulation—whether there should be a single framework for all early-years providers;

Learning and development—looking at the latest evidence on how children are best supported in their learning and development and what is needed to give them the best start at school;

Assessment—how young children’s development should be assessed;

Welfare—the minimum standards to keep children safe and support their healthy

development.

Dame Clare will make recommendations in all these areas on how the EYFS could be improved and strengthened. The full details will be set out in her report.

I am thankful to Dame Clare for all the hard work that has gone into her review, and look forward to reading her report in detail. We will be looking to implement any changes from September 2012 onwards.