How early years settings such as Sure Start centres, nurseries and independent providers should assess children's progress.

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework sets the standards for development, learning and care of children from birth to age 5.

Providers need to carry out 2 main assessments of the children in their care:

  • the EYFS progress check at age 2, which consists of a short written summary of a child’s development when they are between 24 and 36 months
  • the EYFS profile, which summarises and describes a child’s attainment at the end of the EYFS (ie at age 5)

Both assessments look at a child’s progress in the following 7 areas:

  • prime areas of learning:
    • communication and language
    • physical development
    • personal, social and emotional development
  • specific areas of learning:
    • literacy
    • mathematics
    • understanding the world
    • expressive arts and design

The EYFS requires providers to supply parents and carers with a short written summary of every child’s development when they are between 24 and 36 months old. This progress check allows practitioners to identify which children need additional support.

The progress check concentrates on the 3 prime learning and development areas of the EYFS:

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

The EYFS does not require for the progress check at age 2 to be completed in a standard format.

However, providers looking for guidance on the EYFS progress check can find advice in the National Children’s Bureau’s (NCB) ‘Know how guide’ on the EYFS progress check at age 2 (produced with support from the Department for Education.)

This guide provides advice on completing the EYFS progress check, along with good practice examples.

EYFS profile

The EYFS profile provides an assessment of all children at the end of the EYFS.

Early years providers must complete an EYFS profile for each child in the final term of the year in which they turn 5. For most children, this is at the end of the reception year in primary school.

EYFS profile handbook

You can find guidance on how to complete an EYFS profile in the EYFS profile handbook.

The handbook includes guidance on recording children’s attainment and on how to make accurate and reliable judgements about EYFS profile attainment.

Statutory guidance on assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA)

Early years providers should use the EYFS assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA) statutory guidance, which covers the responsibilities of those involved in assessment and reporting for the EYFS.

The arrangements apply to all providers on the Early Years Register and all early years settings, including:

  • maintained schools
  • non-maintained schools
  • academies and free schools
  • independent schools

Exemplification materials

Practitioners should use the EYFS exemplification materials to decide whether a child has met the level of development expected at the end of the EYFS.

There are 17 EYFS profile early learning goals (ELGs) in the EYFS profile, and the exemplification materials are split into each of the ELGs. The materials include examples of several different types of evidence of children’s learning and show the variety of ways in which information can be gathered to support EYFS profile assessments.

Internal moderation of the EYFS profile

To make sure EYFS profile assessments comply with statutory requirements and are consistent with national standards, local authorities provide annual training for practitioners and carry out moderation visits to early years settings in their area. All providers are visited regularly as part of a moderation cycle.

However, the moderation process of EYFS profile assessments begins within each individual setting. To ensure consistency, practitioners should agree profile judgements with other professionals within their own settings. They may also wish to work with practitioners from other settings.

Detailed advice on moderation is available from section 6 of the EYFS profile handbook.

More information about local authority moderation visits and how the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) assesses the moderation process is available in ‘Early years assessment: guidance for local authorities on moderation of the EYFS profile’.