I am today publishing the reformed statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS), which will take effect from 1 September 2012.
The new, simpler and clearer EYFS framework is an integral part of the Government’s wider vision for families in the foundation years. It demonstrates our commitment to freeing professionals from bureaucracy to focus on supporting children. Together with a more flexible free early education entitlement and new streamlined inspection arrangements, this is a major step towards a lighter touch regulatory regime. But we need to go further. I will continue to seek opportunities to reduce burdens and remove unnecessary regulation and paperwork which undermine professionals’ ability to protect children and promote their development. Last summer, I asked Professor Cathy Nutbrown to consider how we might strengthen the early years workforce. Her report is due in June, and I will carefully consider her recommendations—along with international evidence on staffing levels and qualifications—as we continue to promote early years provision that is high quality and cost effective to parents.
Improving the support children receive in their earliest years is central to greater social mobility. Young children develop quickly, and they develop better with the help of high quality early education and good support at home—the cornerstones for children’s success in school and later life. That is why the Government continue to invest heavily in early education, including the expansion of free childcare for three and four-year-olds, and the new entitlement for two-year-olds.
The EYFS sets out the standards that early years providers must meet. It has improved quality across the early years sector, but some aspects of the 2008 framework have proved overly bureaucratic and burdensome. The reformed EYFS, which builds on the independent advice of Dame Clare Tickell, will reduce paperwork and bureaucracy for professionals and enable them to focus more strongly on the areas of learning most essential for children’s healthy development. It will also simplify assessment at age five, reducing the early learning goals from 69 to 17, and provide for earlier intervention for children who need extra help.
When we published our response to the main EYFS consultation on 20 December 2011, we launched a further one-month consultation on new learning and development requirements (as required by the Childcare Act 2006). The responses to this additional consultation were broadly positive and I have made no significant changes to the framework as a result. I am publishing the report of this consultation alongside the framework.
I am also laying before Parliament the amended regulations to enact the reformed framework. Together, the Early Years Foundation Stage (Learning and Development Requirements) (Amendment) Order 2012, and the Early Years Foundation Stage (Welfare Requirements) Regulations 2012, give legal effect to the requirements set out in the framework.
I am also laying the Childcare (Early Years Register) (Amendment) Regulations 2012, which amend the Childcare (Early Years Register) Regulations 2008. These amendments secure alignment between the conditions which providers must meet for registration with Ofsted, the requirements of the EYFS, and providers’ general responsibility to ensure that all staff are suitable to work with young children.
I am placing copies of the EYFS framework, the statutory instruments, and the report of the learning and development consultation, in the Libraries of both Houses.