The importance of the foundation years—as a foundation for life and for future attainment and success—cannot be over estimated. Children’s personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language are of paramount importance. Without a strong start in these three prime areas, children will struggle as they develop in life, with friends and in school. It is vital we have the right framework to support high-quality early years education and development.
The early years foundation stage sets the standards for the whole of the diverse early years sector, from birth to five. Reform of the EYFS is one important element of our wider approach to supporting families in the foundation years, which we will shortly be setting out in full, in a publication jointly developed with the Department of Health.
On 30 March Dame Clare Tickell published her independent review of the early years foundation stage, informed by the latest evidence about how children learn and develop, and the views of parents and carers, practitioners, academics and other experts. The Government welcomed her report, and the revised framework, on which we are today beginning consultation, responds to many of Dame Clare’s recommendations. The new framework makes a number of significant improvements:
Reducing bureaucracy and paper work for professionals, simplifying the statutory assessment of children’s development at age five;
Simplifying the learning and development requirements, reducing the number of early learning goals from 69 to 17;
Stronger emphasis on the three prime areas which are most essential for children’s healthy development—personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language (with four specific areas in which the prime areas are applied—including literacy and mathematics);
A new summary report for parents on their child’s development between the ages of 24 and 36 months, linking with the healthy child review carried out by health visitors, so that children get any additional support they need before they start school; and
Strengthening partnerships between professionals and parents, ensuring that the new framework uses clear language.
Consultation on the early years foundation stage will run until 30 September. The aim is to have the new framework in place from September 2012.