News story

Review of early years foundation stage

Information on Sarah Teather's invitation to Clare Tickell to lead a review into the early years foundation stage.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather today asked Dame Clare Tickell, Chief Executive of Action for Children, to carry out a review of the early years foundation stage (EYFS) so that it is less bureaucratic and more focused on young children’s learning and development.

Ministers are concerned that the EYFS framework is currently too rigid and puts too many burdens on the early years workforce, which has led to some of the workforce saying they are spending less time with children, and more time ticking boxes.

The government has asked Dame Clare, a children and families expert, to make sure the standards that support young children’s learning are based on the best and latest research on children’s development. They want to shift the focus to getting children ready for education and to increasing the attainment of children from deprived backgrounds.

The review will cover four main areas:

  • scope of regulation - whether there should be 1 single framework for all early years providers
  • learning and development - looking at the latest evidence about children’s development and what is needed to give them the best start at school
  • assessment - whether young children’s development should be formally assessed at a certain age, and what this should cover
  • welfare - the minimum standards to keep children safe and support their healthy development

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:

I am always impressed by the dedication of professionals who are working hard to give young children the best start in life. They play a vital role in helping children from all backgrounds to have a good start in school and reach their full potential. Professionals deserve to have the freedom to do their jobs and not have to deal with unnecessary bureaucracy.

It is not right or fair that children from deprived backgrounds that do really well in their early years are overtaken by lower achieving children from advantaged backgrounds by age five. We need good quality early learning for all children and a framework that raises standards, as well as keeping children safe.

Through this review we want to hear about what is and isn’t working well in the EYFS. We also need to create a fairer and more flexible childcare market that is responsive to parents and the rising numbers of children in childcare settings.

I am delighted that Clare has agreed to lead this important review. Her knowledge of the needs of children and families, especially those from more disadvantaged areas, as well as the importance of early intervention, means she is well placed to assess the best way to support young children, and free up the system so that it works for both childcare workers and parents.

Dame Clare Tickell, Chief executive of Action for Children, said:

There has been a lot of debate in recent years about what young children should be learning before they reach school, and the pressure and burdens this puts on the early years sector.

It is important that professionals in the early years sector have the time to tackle the important issues - helping children from poorer backgrounds, and those with special needs, as well as giving all children a fun and stimulating learning experience.

I look forward to conducting this review and to listening to professionals, parents, carers and early years experts. I hope to find a way forward that supports the different approaches to learning and development, so that we have some of the best early years standards in the world.

The coalition government is committed to investing in the early years, and recently announced the extension of free childcare for all 3- and 4-year-olds to 15 hours a week. The review of the EYFS will ensure that good quality early learning benefits all children, as the government believes this can make a real difference to success in later life. It also has a more significant impact for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dame Clare will provide a final report in spring 2011. The government will then consult on any proposed changes before they take effect from September 2012.

Notes to editors:

  • Watch the video concerning the announcement.

Sarah Teather discusses the review of the Early Years Foundation Stage

  • Watch the video of Children’s Minister Sarah Teather visiting a school in Newham as part of the launch of the EYFS review.

Sarah Teather visits St Matthew’s pre-school in Newham

  • The EYFS has been statutory since 2008 and sets standards in learning and welfare for any provider caring for children aged 0 to 5 years.

  • The framework was introduced in response to research that highlighted how good quality childcare can support children’s learning and development.

  • The current early years framework is split into 2 parts. The first part sets out learning and development requirements. The second part is the welfare requirements, which set out what early years providers must do to keep children safe, promote their welfare, and ensure the suitability of adults, premises, the environment and equipment.

  • Early years providers may apply for exemptions or modifications from the learning and development requirements where they are temporarily unable to deliver the full learning and development requirements, or where a majority of parents agree with the provider’s assessment that an exemption is required because the established principle which governs their practice conflicts with elements of the EYFS learning and development requirements.

DfE media enquiries

Central newsdesk - for journalists 020 7783 8300

Updates to this page

Published 6 July 2010