Research and analysis

Children's experiences of the early years foundation stage

This project gathered children's views on their experiences in a range of early years settings.



Researchers worked with 146 children aged between 3 and 5 in different types of early years settings across four local authorities in England. The sample comprised sixteen settings, including one Steiner setting.

The methodology was designed to explore children’s perceptions of their experiences and to relate these perceptions to the early years foundation stage (EYFS). Researchers spent time with children, talking to them and sharing in activities. They then focused on the things that seemed to be most important to the children, for example the kinds of play they were keen to show and/or talk about.

In this research, particular consideration was given to play-based learning, outdoor provision and children’s participation, linked to the 6 areas of learning in the EYFS. The findings contributed to an independent review of the EYFS, led by Dame Clare Tickell from September 2010.

Published 23 December 2010