Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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A good start for the Early Years Foundation Stage

All types of childcare provider can, and do, deliver the learning and development requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage well, with training, support and challenge, key to their success.

Ofsted’s report ‘The impact of the Early Years Foundation Stage: A good start’, examines the work of early years providers across the sector, from large primary schools to childminders working alone with one or two children. In July 2010 Children’s Minister Sarah Teather asked Dame Clare Tickell to carry out a review of the Early Years Foundation Stage, and this report is intended to inform that review.

The Early Years Foundation Stage is the statutory framework against which providers of early education are judged, and includes requirements for the provision of young children’s learning and development, and welfare. The report focuses particularly on two areas of learning: personal, social and emotional development; and communication, language and literacy skills.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said:

“Childcare in England has improved since the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Our evidence shows that all kinds of provider, from schools to childminders, can deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage well and that children are enjoying their time, whatever type of provision they attend.

“In the best provision, childcare providers have established routines, high expectations of children’s behaviour and a good understanding of learning needs. They are also committed to their own development and make the most of the external support available. For example, nine out of the 12 outstanding childminders we visited had qualifications above the minimum required, and ten out of the 12 were members of local childminding networks.

“It is important that others learn from what is working well in order to improve their practice and help ensure the children in their care have a good start in life.”

At the end of August 2010, the percentage of providers judged good or outstanding had increased to 68 per cent, compared with 59 per cent at the end of August 2008, before the Early Years Foundation Stage was introduced. Outcomes in personal, social and emotional development were satisfactory or better in all the schools and childcare providers visited.

Ofsted’s inspection data show that of the providers who left the sector following an inspection under the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, 16 per cent had been judged inadequate. In comparison, just two per cent of providers who had an Early Years Foundation Stage judgement and remained active were inadequate.

Between September 2008 and September 2010, 71 per cent of inspected childcare providers on non-domestic premises, such as nurseries, were judged to be good or outstanding overall, compared with 67 per cent of childminders. This gap in quality is relatively small in more affluent areas, but grows larger as the level of deprivation increases.

Assessment of children’s learning and development was good or outstanding in 21 of the 25 schools visited, but only in 15 of the 43 childcare providers. It was inadequate in seven childcare providers, but no schools. Inspectors found that where assessment was underdeveloped it tended to focus more on children’s welfare or their interests, rather than their learning.

Self-evaluation and action-planning was too often seen by childcare providers as something that had to be done for Ofsted rather than a means of improving outcome for children. However, outcomes for children were no better than satisfactory in any of the providers where self-evaluation was inadequate.

Support and challenge for providers and a commitment to professional development were identified by inspectors as important drivers for improvement. Ten out of 12 childminders that were found to be good or outstanding when visited for this survey were members of local networks of childminders.

Inspectors found that all the improving childcare providers and schools visited had received some form of training or support from their local authority, a professional association or another external organisation, in implementing the Early Years Foundation Stage. This support included initial training to introduce the Early Years Foundation Stage, ongoing training including targeted national programmes, support through childminder networks and from children’s centres, and direct support from the local authority. The local authorities contacted suggested that childminders were the least likely to attend their training due to travel or other commitments.

Providers’ views about the value and impact of the Early Years Foundation Stage varied. Many were positive, and talked about how it had raised the status of early education, made them more ambitious for themselves and for children, and had given them a clearer idea of what they should be doing and how to improve their practice.

However, these views were not shared universally. Childminders visited for the survey expressed negative views about the Early Years Foundation Stage more often than other types of providers. These were almost exclusively childminders that had remained satisfactory between their last two inspections and thought of themselves more as carers than educators.

Related links

Read The impact of the Early Years Foundation Stage Report

Read the News Release

Notes for Editors

  1. The report The impact of the Early Years Foundation Stage: A good start can be found on the Ofsted website at
  2. The term childcare provider refers to providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register.
  3. All childcarers – such as childminders, day nurseries, pre-schools and private nursery schools – providing for children from birth to the 31 August following their fifth birthday, must register with Ofsted on the Early Years Register and deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage.
  4. The Early Years Foundation Stage, introduced in September 2008, is the statutory framework for the early education and care of children from birth to five. The EYFS includes requirements for the provision of young children’s welfare, learning and development that all providers must meet, as well as good practice guidance.
  5. Childcare providers on non domestic premises are people providing care for individual children in premises that are not someone’s home. These premises can range from converted houses to purpose built nurseries.
  6. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
  7. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 6899 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359



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