A simpler, less bureaucratic system for assessing how young children in England are developing is to be announced.

The Early Years Foundation Stage, which currently has 69 benchmarks, will be reduced to just 17, focusing on basics like physical development and language.

The EYFS has been statutory since 2008 and sets out targets for learning and welfare for childcare providers.

But there has been criticism that it makes carers spend more time ticking boxes and less time with children.

A review of early years was commissioned by the new government in July.

It was carried out by Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children, who is due to publish her recommendations later today.

Dame Clare will say that the EYFS should not be scrapped altogether, because it is right to have a framework to help early years professionals make sure children are learning core life and communication skills.

But she will say that the current EYFS is “far too bureaucratic” with 69 learning goals.

Instead, she will recommend a new strategy focussing on 17 basic areas such as physical development, communication and language and understanding the world.

She will also recommend that the new EYFS be more in line with what children are learning at the age of five in school, and should build on the health and development check each child gets at two and a half years old by a health visitor.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “We hope the review looks at children’s overall readiness to go to school, including their communications, social, physical, and emotional development, and does not just focus on literacy and numeracy.

“We also want to see recommendations about what schools should do to be ready for children, including funding for better adult to child ratios, better services to support children and families, a requirement for outdoor play and greater understanding of the importance of play-based learning.

“We believe that learning should be teacher-led, the curriculum should be broad and balanced, and that nurseries and schools should work together to provide a range of services and support for children in the area.

“We are appalled that cuts to local services are putting children’s centres and other early years provision under threat.”

The government will respond in full to the recommendations in the summer when it will consult on changes to the EYFS. Changes will come into force from September 2012 at the earliest.

What’s your reaction to the review? How do you balance your time between the paperwork and care of children? Drop your comments below to join the discussion.

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