EYFS Review: Early Years curriculum slimmed down to aid child learning

Sarah Teather talks about the EYFS Review
Government sets out reform of early learning and children’s centres

A new, slimmed down early years curriculum for 0-5s, more focused on making sure children start school ready and able to learn, will be introduced next year under changes set out by Children’s Minister Sarah Teather.

Responding to the Tickell Review of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the new framework radically reduces the number of early learning goals from 69 to 17. It also focuses on three prime areas of learning critical to making sure children have the foundations for school, and introduces a progress check for every 2 year old in early education so parents and professionals can be confident children are developing well.

As part of wider reforms to Sure Start children’s centres and early learning, the Government is looking at ways to get parents and communities more involved in running children’s centres. New plans to be consulted on will also make it easier for parents to plan and balance their working lives by making the free entitlement to 15 hours of early learning and childcare more flexible.

In addition, the Government has made £3million available this year for up to 30 local areas to trial payment by results in children’s centres. Local areas will be rewarded on how well they narrow the gap in child development, raise attainment at the end of the Foundation years and improve family health and wellbeing

The key proposals outlined include:

– A new focus on three prime areas of learning in the EYFS so children are ready and able to learn at school. These areas are: personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language.

– A slimmed down EYFS, cutting the number of learning goals from 69-17. The learning goals will be more closely aligned with Key Stage1 to smooth the transition from reception class to Year 1.

– Assessment at age 5 will remain but instead of the current complicated scale point assessment children will be judged against 17 learning goals.

– A new check for every 2 year old in pre-school settings to pick up early any problems in a child’s development or special educational needs. Going further than Tickell’s recommendation, the Government will require all early years settings to provide this information to parents.

– New plans, to be consulted on in the autumn, to enable parents to access their free entitlement hours from 7am-7pm, and take the full 15 hours over two days rather than a minimum of 3 days.

– A new core purpose for children’s centres which clearly sets out the types of services that should be universal and those which should be targeted at the most needy families.

– Exploring how governing bodies and co-operative approaches could be more widely used in the running of children’s centres to give professionals, parents and communities more control over how their local children’s centre is run.

– New requirement on all local authorities to publish data on how much they are spending on children’s centres in their area to improve local accountability.

In response to the announcement, Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:
“The first five years of a child’s life, the Foundation Years, are absolutely critical. We want a system where every child can thrive, regardless of their social background. If we are to tackle the attainment gap and raise life chances, we must start in the earliest years.

“We know experiences in these first years have the biggest impact on how a child’s brain develops. It’s when children grasp the fundamental skills needed to do well at school and develop as happy, confident individuals. That’s why I am today setting out a much slimmer, easier to understand early years curriculum. It will give professionals more freedom in how they work with children, and will involve parents more in their child’s learning. Fundamentally, it will make sure we are preparing our children for the challenges of school and beyond. This isn’t just about making sure they can hold a pencil, children need the resilience, confidence and personal skills to be able to learn.

“Children’s centres are where much of this work takes place. We want them to be places where communities come together, parents can support each other and children can develop. That’s why we are looking at how to give parents more say in the running of their local children’s centre. This could be through governing bodies, or a co-operative approach where parents are involved in day to day decisions. We are also providing £3m this year for up to 30 new pilots where local councils will be paid for the results they achieve.

“Finally, we want to make sure parents get the help and support they need to bring up their children and balance work and family life. Proposed changes to the free entitlement hours will help make sure more children can benefit from early education and parents can juggle their working hours more effectively.”

Dame Clare Tickell published her independent review of the Early Years Foundation Stage in March this year. The Government agrees with Tickell that the current system is overly bureaucratic, repetitive and not as parent friendly as it should be. The revised framework is published today on the Department’s website for consultation.

Evidence shows that making a difference to children’s achievement in the early years is critical. Pupils who start off in the bottom 20 per cent of attainment at the EYFS profile aged 5 are six times more likely to be in the bottom 20per cent at KS1. Feinstein’s research shows that parental interest in their child’s education has four times more influence on attainment by age 16 than socio-economic background. The new framework will free up professionals to spend more time working with children and helping them to develop and the new 2 year old check will ensure parents are properly engaged in their child’s development.

Do you welcome the changes to the early years curriculum? Do you have any concerns? Join the discussion below by leaving your comments.


5 thoughts on “EYFS Review: Early Years curriculum slimmed down to aid child learning

  • July 8, 2011 at 10:45 am

    At last, but should we not be looking at Creative development as a core area, looking at the Reggio experience where educational attainment is based on all things creative, as through the expansion of creative thinking it allows professionals to cover all areas of learning. I feel more flexibility on the funding is a good step forward; however someone will lose out as with moving the funding for settings to be used from 7am to 7pm puts settings in the unenviable position of providing the extra care and extra hours if not already heading in that way. Maybe the government should look at local authorities that are reducing the funding for settings in the form of grants available because they are only interested in statuary school aged children, maybe the government should look at increasing the age that children go in to school and allow children to stay in pre-schools until the age of 6 or 7 inline with our European neighbours who have better attainment records for children attending school later.

  • July 7, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Fewer goals is fantastic, hopefully reducing the ever increasing paperwork that appears to have overtaken the basis of childcare. Do under threes need a ‘curriculum’ definitely not they need love, care and attention from attentive and caring practitioners. Yes there needs to be developmental monitoring strategies in place, but is this required to be so time consuming at the cost of reducing time spent with the children. hopefully reduction in goals will relieve the pressure from already underpaid and over stretched practitioners.

  • July 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Fewer goals is an excellent idea and I agree will provide clearer areas for observation.

    As far as accessing fifteen hours over two days, does this mean that providers only charge for 7.5hrs over two days at funded rate and that parents could demand that their child only used 7.5 of the potentially available 12? This would be quite unsustainable! or does it mean parents could have one day using 12 hrs and the second day using remaining 3 hrs? and then pay required fees for additional hours the child attends? Still very confusing!

    Flexibility for parents has to be balanced between the organisational needs of settings! there have to be some constraints on parental choice, simply to enable staff to receive regular salaries.

    I really hate moaning, and really hope that standards continue to rise but, the long and the short of it is – that although MP’s and the like state that Early Years are the most important stage of a child’s development they don’t fund it as such!! Graduates in this industry cannot and will not earn appropriate salaries and therefore it is questionable whether they will stay in the Early Years Workforce.

  • July 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    New plans, to be consulted on in the autumn, to enable parents to access their free entitlement hours from 7am-7pm, and take the full 15 hours over two days rather than a minimum of 3 days

    Flexibility for parents is great, except for the fact that @ £3.56 (Birmingham’s hourly rate) that would pay 7.5 hours x £3.56 = around £27 per day. My daily rate is £32.00 so I would be £5.00 down. The PVI sector need to earn enough money for not only sustainability but also to provide quality childcare delivered by quality practitioners. Loosing £5.00 per day because parents don’t have to pay any top up fees may be great for practitioners but spell a death sentance for PVI providers.

  • July 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I think that fewer goals is brilliant as many were replicated in other areas. Knowledge and understaning could incorporate the other 2 goals i.e. PSRN, CD, with fewer goals too. This would give clear areas of observation, recording and planning. Lots of valuable information may be lost if Knowledge and Understanding is scrapped, so 4 areas i.e. PSED-Cll-PD & K&U with 5 goals in each would suffice, giving the right information and much easier to implement and assess.

    Thank you for the chance to comment


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