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Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)


Setting the Standards for Learning, Development and Care for Children from Birth to Five

From September 2008 all settings providing childcare and education for children from birth to five years are required to follow The Early Years Foundation Stage. In September 2012 this was revised to cover both The Characteristics of Learning and The early learning Goals.
Below is a brief outline of the new framework.

There are four themes in the EYFS.

A Unique Child: This theme is about how children develop: they are all different and their learning needs and styles are unique too.  Positive relationships and good communication are vital so that we can plan for individual learning needs.  Children do best when all their physical and emotional needs are met, and this is what we aim to do at Preschool.  Staff understand and observe each child’s development and learning and assess their progress, planning for their next steps.  Together we identify any areas which may need some additional support and arrange this if necessary.

The Unique Child relates to all the areas of learning through the Characteristics of Effective Learning:

  • Playing and Exploring: Finding out and exploring, Playing with what they know, Being willing to ‘have a go’.
  • Active Learning: Being involved and concentrating, Keeping trying, Enjoying achieving what they set out to do.
  • Creating and Thinking Critically: Having their own ideas, Making links, Choosing ways to do things.

Positive Relationships: This theme is about children learning to manage their feelings and build friendships.  We respect all families and aim to develop a positive two-way relationship with parents and carers.  Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.  Staff are warm and friendly and help to foster a sense of belonging.  We are sensitive and responsive to children’s feelings and support their efforts and encourage independence.  Children need to learn about risks and safety, how to make good choices, and how to stick to boundaries. 

Enabling Environments: This theme is about how we plan for and check on each child’s progress.  Children learn and develop well in environments in which the adults provide experiences based on children’s individual needs and there is a strong partnership between staff and parents/carers.  These environments value everyone’s learning and offer stimulating resources relevant to all the children’s cultures and communities.  We offer rich learning opportunities through play and playful teaching and support children to take risks and to explore.

Learning and Development: This theme is about how children develop and learn in different ways.  The E.Y.F.S. framework covers the education and care of all children in preschool, including children with additional needs.  We teach children by providing challenging, playful opportunities across the prime and specific areas of learning and development.  We aim to foster the characteristics of effective learning:  Playing and exploring, Active learning, and Creating and thinking critically.

The E.Y.F.S is divided into two areas, Prime areas, which begin to develop quickly in response to relationships and experiences, and run through and support learning in all other areas.  The Prime areas continue to be essential throughout the whole E.Y.F.S.

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships, Self-confidence and self-awareness, Managing feelings and behaviour.
  • Communication and Language: Listening and attention, Understanding, Speaking.
  • Physical Development: Moving and handling, Health and self-care.


The Specific Areas include essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society.  They grow out of the Prime areas and provide important contexts for learning.

  • Literacy: Reading, Writing.
  • Mathematics: Numbers, Shape, space and measure.
  • Understanding the World: People and communities, The world, Technology.
  • Expressive Arts and Design: Exploring and using media and materials, Being imaginative.

At some point after your child turns 2, your child’s keyworker will give you a written summary of how your child is progressing against the 3 prime areas of learning:

  • communication and language;
  • physical development; and
  • personal, social and emotional development.

This is called the progress check at age 2.
This check will highlight areas where your child is progressing well and any where they might need some extra help or support – and how parents and other family members or carers can work with the keyworker to help. You might find it useful to share the information from the check with other professionals such as health visitors (who can use it as part of the health and development review).

At the end of the EYFS – in the summer term of the reception year in school – teachers complete an assessment which is known as the EYFS Profile. This assessment is carried out by the reception teacher and is based on what they, and other staff caring for your child, have observed over a period of time.

Another important part of the EYFS Profile is your knowledge about your child’s learning and development, so do let your child’s class teacher know about what your child does with you: such as how confident your child is in writing their name, reading and talking about a favourite book, speaking to people your child is not so familiar with or their understanding of numbers.

All of the information collected is used to judge how your child is doing in the 7 areas of learning and development. Finding out at this stage how your child is doing will mean that the teacher your child has in their next school year – year 1 – will know what your child really enjoys doing and does well, as well as helping them decide if your child needs a bit of extra support, what that support should be and if they are already getting it.

The school will give you a report of your child’s progress, including information from his or her EYFS Profile.