Nursery Advice

The National Curriculum for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) explained

The following brief overview of the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage: setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five years has been extracted from the Department for Education publication that was published in March 2014.

It is useful for parents to know the education the nursery and the Reception Class are required to deliver to child. An understanding of this framework will also help parents to select the best nursery and Primary School to meet the needs of their child. Parents can also use the official and impartial information that MyEd provides on the profile pages of the nurseries and schools that are close to their home or work address.

Although the framework sets standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five years, formal education provision starts at 3 with the Early Years Foundation Stage as outline in the table below.

3 to 4 Early Years Assessments are based on EYFS practitioners’ observations
4 to 5 Reception Early Years Assessments are based on EYFS practitioners’ observations

The standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old are based on the following 5 principles.

  1. Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.
  2. 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.

  3. The EYFS seeks to provide:

    • quality and consistency in all early years settings, so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind;

    • a secure foundation through learning and development opportunities which are planned around the needs and interests of each individual child and are assessed and reviewed regularly;

    • partnership working between practitioners and with parents and/or carers;

    • equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported.

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

    • The 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 knowledge, skills and understanding children should have at the end of the academic year in which they turn five); and
    • Assessment arrangements for measuring progress (and requirements for reporting to parents and/or carers).
  5. The safeguarding and welfare requirements cover the steps that providers must take to keep children safe and promote their welfare.


Overarching principles

The following four guiding principles should shape practice in early years settings.

  • 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; and
  • children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.

All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

There are assessments when a child is aged between 2 and 3 years and at the end of the academic year when they turn 5. These are not tests for the child – the assessments are based on EYFS practitioners’ observations.

Information from these assessments is used for parents, practitioners and teachers to support children’s learning and development.

Early years learning concentrates on 7 areas split between prime and specific areas of learning.


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