The Early Years

Early Years Foundation Stage

Schools and early years settings have to follow a structure of learning, development and care for children from birth to five years old. This is called the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and it enables your child to learn through a range of activities. The Early Years Foundation Stage was introduced in 2008. Following a government consultation, a revised version of the EYFS was launched in April 2017. Click here to view the full document.  

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is how the Government and early years professionals describe the time in your child’s life between birth and age 5. This is a hugely important stage as it helps your child get ready for the transition to school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. From when your child is born up until the age of 5, their early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs.

All nurseries, pre-schools, reception classes and childminders registered to deliver the EYFS must follow and adhere to a legal document called the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. This exists to support all professionals working in the EYFS to help your child, and was developed with a number of early years experts and parents.

In 2014 the framework was revised to make it clearer and easier to use, with more focus on the things that matter most. This new framework also has a greater emphasis on your role in helping your child develop.

Key information
The Early Years Foundation Stage ensures:

  • children learn through play
  • providers work closely with parents
  • you are kept up to date on your child’s progress
  • the welfare, learning and all-round development of children with different backgrounds and levels of ability, including those with special educational needs and disabilities

The EYFS learning and development identifies seven areas of learning and development. These are divided into three prime areas:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development

and four specific areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

Learning is structured around the ‘characteristics of learning’. This means that children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active and through creative and critical thinking, which takes place both indoors and outside.