In our ‘Why Choose Us’ section, we give a brief outline of our Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum and roughly what it includes. However, the EYFS is not just a curriculum. It is actually a fully-fledged ‘framework’ — an entire approach to early years education and care. It is used at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and other registered childcare settings throughout England. In this article, we explain how it’s used, what it consists of and what its key aims are.
Why use the Early Years Foundation Stage framework?
All UK Registered Childcare settings are mandated by the UK’s Department of Education (‘DoE’) to implement what’s known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’) framework. This is a legal requirement for early years settings under the Childcare Act 2006. The framework includes a comprehensive set of rules, a series of excellent guidelines and additional legally-binding guidance for early years settings in England. These have been shaped by best practice approaches to education and care, which have been tried and tested over the course of many years.
What are the key aims of the EYFS?
The key educational aim of the EYFS framework is for children’s learning and development to progress in the most successful way — and a way that best suits each individual child. After all, every child is unique. This aim is critically important in order to nurture and help maximise their skills and abilities while also recognising that children learn and develop in different ways and at different rates. Achieving this will help give each child the best possible start in life, whatever their abilities or disabilities. This will, in turn, give them the best chance to fulfil their own personal potential later in life. Study after study has shown that children’s early years of learning and development have a huge impact on lifelong outcomes, so achieving personal bests is incredibly important.
“The Early Years Foundation Stage … ensure(s) 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.” ( DoE, March 2017)
The EYFS framework aims to ensure:
- • the safeguarding, happiness and welfare of children in early years settings;
- • high quality and consistent early years education and care;
- • equal opportunities for every child;
- • that children build a wide range of skills and knowledge as a foundation for the future;
- • that children are ready and fully prepared for school by the time they leave early years care;
- • the nurturing of a partnership between early years childcare settings and parents/carers in order to achieve the aims.
What does the EYFS framework include?
The EYFS framework has several key components:
- Learning and development programmes that are implemented by the early years setting. These form the basis of the curriculum.
- A set of learning goals for the children to work towards. Their primary aim is to ensure each child’s readiness for school.
- Continual assessment of each child’s progress and tailoring of their learning and development programmes as appropriate.
- Safeguarding and welfare requirements. These prescribe the steps needed to keep children safe and well at early years settings like nurseries and pre-schools.
We’ll go into a little more detail about each one.
What are the EYFS programmes?
The EYFS learning and development programmes cover a total of 7 areas. In real terms, these programmes form the basis of the core curriculum in place at early years settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. They are implemented, in a structured way, through playing, exploring, active learning, creating and critical thinking. Of the seven, there are three prime areas or learning and development. These are:
- • Communication and language
• (listening, understanding, speaking etc.)
- • Physical development
• (movement, co-ordination, health, self-care, exercise, diet, hygiene etc.)
- • Personal, social and emotional development
• (self-confidence, self-awareness, speaking in groups, behaviour, management of feelings, making relationships, etc.)
In tandem with those are the four remaining areas of focus for the children, being:
- • Literacy
• (reading, writing, vocabulary, comprehension etc.)
- • Mathematics
• (counting, numeracy, problem-solving, simple arithmetic, comprehension, of shapes/space/volumes etc).
- • Understanding the world
• (Awareness of different people, communities, cultures, nature and the world around them etc.)
- • Expressive arts and design
• (being creative and using imagination including in art, music, dance, technology etc.)
What are the EYFS goals?
For each of the seven areas of learning and development is a set of goals for the children. These are present to ensure each child’s successful progress towards the ultimate aim of being ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave early years education and begin school. Programmes are adapted, as appropriate, to accommodate the individual needs, abilities and progress of each child as they work towards each goal. The EYFS learning and development goals are very detailed and are covered in a separate post here.
What about EYFS assessments?
The EYFS includes continuous assessment of each child and their progress towards each goal. It is this assessment that allows key workers and other childcare professionals to tailor programmes to suit individual rates of progress. Parents are also engaged and kept informed so that the child’s learning and development programme is supported and continued, where possible, whilst at home. Part of the assessments process is an important ‘Progress Check‘ report when children reach the age of two.
A final ‘Early Years Foundation Stage Profile‘ (EYFSP) will eventually be completed in the year in which the child reaches the age of five. The EYFSP is used to inform school teachers about each child’s progress once they start Year 1 following Reception. An EYFSP must be provided for every child, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities. These inform the school teachers about each child and are useful as a way to gauge the possible need for additional support, for example.
What are the EYFS safeguarding & welfare measures?
The EYFS also includes an important framework for the safeguarding and welfare of children. Clearly, early years education and care settings need to keep children safe and well, so the EYFS contains several provisions to ensure that this is the case. These measures include:
- • Safeguards to ensure the suitability of those in contact with children;
- • Minimum training and qualifications for staff;
- • Provision of a ‘key person’ who is assigned to each child;
- • Minimum staff-to-children ratios;
- • Various measures and safeguards to promote good health, including in relation to use of medicines;
- • A healthy eating/drinking approach;
- • Adequate provisions in place in the event of accident or injury;
- • Adequate steps to ensure that premises are safe, that Healthy & Safety protocols are suitable and that risk assessments are made as and when appropriate;
- • Minimum indoor space and outdoor activity provisions;
- • Suitable protocols are in place to prevent unauthorised people from entering premises or contacting children;
- • Provision for the support of children with special educational needs or disabilities;
- • And much more.
You can see from the above that the EYFS is incredibly far-reaching. It is an excellent framework and one that really works to maximise the personal potential of each and every child. Along with that, it ensures the best possible attention to the happiness, health, safety and wellbeing of the children.
Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham
If you would like your baby or child to benefit from everything the EYFS has to offer, Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery would love to hear from you. We’re a nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, B16, so are very convenient for those parents and carers looking for outstanding weekday childcare services near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. We even have our own Forest School! Call 0121 246 4922 for to discuss a nursery place with our team or click any of the bold links in this paragraph for further information.