What do I need to know about the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)?

The EYFS is a set of legal guidelines - sometimes referred to as a statutory framework - that must be followed by all providers of early years childcare and education.

EYFS overarching principles

The EYFS is designed around a set of principles that inform every section of the framework.

They are the fundamental principles outlining how providers of early years care should operate in order to adhere to the EYFS.

  • every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
  • children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
  • children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers
  • children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all
  • children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities, are covered by the EYFS

Goals of the EYFS

There are three prime areas of focus for early years learning and development:

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

There are also four specific areas in which this learning should be focussed: 

  • literacy 
  • mathematics 
  • understanding the world 
  • expressive arts and design

The EYFS framework is designed to support children’s development in these specific areas while also ensuring their learning environment is safe and secure.

The framework details how and when assessments should take place to ensure children are developing in the specific areas.

The results of these assessments should be made available to parents and carers in the form of a written summary.

EYFS Requirements

Here are just a few examples of the requirements that early years education and childcare providers must meet according to the EYFS. 

Failing to comply with any one of these requirements would be cause for official complaint and would lead to an inspection by Ofsted.

• Fresh drinking water must be available at all times
• Providers must have public liability insurance
• Each child must be assigned a key person
• Providers must have a written procedure for dealing with concerns and complaints, which must be made available to parents and carers

Why is the EYFS important? 

All early years education and childcare providers commit to following the EYFS and it is this framework that is used by Ofsted as the basis for their inspections on quality and standards.

If, for example, a nursery is deemed to be underperforming and is issued a 'notice to improve', this will be due to a failure to meet requirements laid out in the EYFS.

The EYFS is designed to be used by early years professionals and the relevant governing bodies rather than parents and carers, but it can still be useful for parents wanting to know more about the guidelines within the sector.

If you are a parent and have a complaint or concern about your nursery or other early years provider, you may find the EYFS a useful point of reference, particularly if you are writing a formal complaint.

You can use our template letter to help you if you wish to complain about your child's nursery

Being able to refer to specific points in the framework will help those on both sides better understand and resolve a potential dispute.

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