The government has published the revised early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework, which confirms plans to reduce the early education learning goals from and 69 to 17 and introduce developmental progress checks for two-year-olds from September.
The government has also pledged to reduce the burden of bureaucracy further for practitioners where there are examples of paperwork and regulation, which are not necessary to safeguard children, drive up quality or promote child development.
In her review of the EYFS, Dame Claire Tickell proposed that the current six measures of the framework be reduced to three "prime areas" of personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; and physical development. These areas will be underpinned by the "specific areas" of literacy; maths; understanding the world; and expressive arts and design.
Launching the revised framework, children’s minister Sarah Teather said: "What really matters is making sure a child is able to start school ready to learn, able to make friends and play, ready to ask for what they need and say what they think.
"It’s vital we have the right framework to support high-quality early years education. Our changes, including the progress check at age two, will support early years professionals and families to give children the best possible start in life.
"This is the first part of our reforms to the early years. Where we find examples of regulation and paperwork that are not necessary to safeguard children, drive up quality or promote child development, we will remove them. We will continue to help practitioners to focus on children’s healthy development."
Tickell said the final framework, to be introduced on 1 September, closely follows the recommendations of her review.
"I am very happy to endorse the new EYFS," she said. "It closely follows my recommendations, building on the strengths of the current framework and making key improvements in response to the concerns of many people working in the sector.
"There is a compelling reason for reforming the EYFS while retaining its overall shape and scope: the evidence is clear that there is a strong positive link between high-quality early education and children’s healthy progress through school and into adulthood. To secure that link, and to ensure that all children grow up healthy, safe and resilient, and develop the ability and curiosity to learn, we need the EYFS."
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, also applauded the framework, but voiced reservations about the two-year-old checks.
We welcome and applaud the government’s revised EYFS as it restates that the child is at the centre of the framework and focuses on the needs of young children at all points.
While we also welcome the introduction of progress checks for children between the ages of two and three, the government must take note of parental concerns about these checks. A recent alliance survey of 2,000 mothers and mothers-to-be found that most are worried that the progress check could result in a possible misdiagnosis of their child, given natural fluctuations in children’s development at this age.