Decision Maker Response

Department for Education’s response

Jul 17, 2020 — We are aware of a petition on Change.org that makes significant misleading claims about our reforms to the early years foundation stage (EYFS).

The petition suggests that children will be deemed as failing if they do not reach particular milestones at ages four and five. This is untrue.

These milestones are not tests; they are an end-point measure of children’s attainment at age 5 and readiness for year 1. No child will be deemed as failing if they are not meeting these developmental goals.

We have transformed early years learning and development, focusing on equipping children with the early language, literacy, numeracy and other skills they will need as they start their school journey. The point of these reforms is to make sure early years professionals fully support children’s holistic learning and development throughout reception year. These reforms achieve that by removing unnecessary paper work to free up more time for teachers to spend interacting with children. This builds on pilot findings published last year, where teachers found changes largely positive, with feedback that it helped focus on stories, group work and discussion, inspiring pupils to be more imaginative and improving their language skills.

Our reforms have been developed following extensive consultation with the sector.

Jan Dubiel, specialist in Early Childhood Education, said:

“Recent events have been a stark reminder of how unpredictable the world can be. As educators and policy makers concerned with early years care and education, we have a duty to ensure that we are preparing children to be knowledgeable, skilled, resilient and creative to manage and succeed in the future that they will face.

“We are all committed to providing the most effective and up to date provision for children that will ensure this. The review of the Statutory Educational Programmes, Early Learning Goals and EYFS Profile provides us with a timely opportunity to reflect on, update and refine key aspects of the EYFS.”

Dr Julian Grenier, Headteacher at Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre, said:

“I think it’s important for the sector to take hold of the opportunities these reforms offer us. Reducing the workload around the EYFS Profile will enable practitioners to focus their assessment work where it’s most needed. That’s for children in danger of falling behind the majority, and children who may have barriers to their learning.

“This is an opportunity for schools to think about their early years curriculum, and what they want children to learn, experience and enjoy, rather than focusing on assessment data. The key to giving children better and more equal life-chances is to strengthen the profession in the early years. I hope that colleagues will seize this opportunity to put less emphasis on generating ‘data’ on more on developing a stronger and better-trained workforce.”

Professor Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, said:

“The Chartered College of Teaching welcomes these reforms. It is vital that teachers and early years colleagues are free to spend the majority of their time focussing on leading learning rather than constantly tracking and monitoring progress for external moderation purposes.”

Tiffnie Harris, primary specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We support this new approach to early learning because it will remove the administrative burden of external moderation and give our fantastic early years teachers more time to interact with children. Early years education is so important for future outcomes, and it is a key to narrowing the attainment gap between rich and poor. We very much welcome the focus on this vital phase.”