Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.
The EYFS seeks to provide:
• quality and consistency in all early years settings, so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind
• a secure foundation through planning for the learning and development of each individual child, and assessing and reviewing what they have learned regularly
• partnership working between practitioners and with parents and/or carers
• equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported
Four guiding principles should shape practice in early years settings. These are:
• 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 with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers. (See “the characteristics of effective teaching and learning” at paragraph 1.15)
• importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn 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 (SEND).