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Assessment within the Early years foundation stage

Effective assessment requires you to have a good understanding of child development. You need to be clear about what you want children to know and be able to do. Every child is unique and they develop in different ways and at different rates and times. Each child will have their own starting points depending on the opportunities and experiences they have had.

Assessment is about noticing what each child can do and what they know and building upon this. Accurate assessment will help you to highlight individual needs. Assessment should not take you away from being with the children nor require excessive paperwork. In terms of observation and assessment paperwork, only record what is necessary in a way that works for you.


  • why do you keep written data and evidence?
  • what do you actually use it for?
  • where is it helpful to your practice?

Assessment plays a role in helping parent, carers and you to identify a child’s progress, understand their needs and support their ongoing learning and development together.

You should know children well:

  • what could children do when they arrived?
  • what are their interests?
  • how are you using their interests to develop their skills?
  • what are children working on now and what are they on the cusp of mastering?
  • what are your aspirations for all children’s learning?

Continually using your professional knowledge about each child helps you to build on their motivations, interests and needs to support and extend their learning and development.

The progress check was introduced to enable earlier identification of development needs so that any additional support can be put into place as early as possible. This is a statutory requirement within the Early years foundation stage.

When a child is aged between two and three, you must review their progress and provide parents/carers with a written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas of learning. Beyond these prime areas, it is for you to decide what the written summary should include, reflecting the development level and needs of the individual child.

You should talk to parents/carers about when would be the most useful time to complete the two year check and involve them in the process. Where possible, the progress check and the Healthy Child Programme, health and development review at age two (completed by the Health Visitor) should inform one another. This allows health and education professionals to identify strengths as well as any delays in learning and development that may need support.

The written summary must:

  • highlight areas in which a child is progressing well
  • highlight areas in which some additional support might be needed
  • focus particularly on any areas where there is a concern that a child may have a developmental delay (which may indicate a special educational need or disability)
  • describe the activities and strategies you intend to adopt to address any issues or concerns

You must discuss with parents or carers how the summary of development can be used to support learning at home.

Completing the progress check at age two

The EYFS framework does not require the progress check to be completed in a prescribed or standard format. Our template Progress check at age two is available by request please email [email protected].

The check:

  • should be completed by a practitioner who knows the child well and works directly with them in the setting
  • arises from the ongoing observational assessments carried out as part of everyday practice in the setting
  • is based on skills, knowledge, understanding and behaviour that the child demonstrates consistently and independently
  • takes account of the views and contributions of parents
  • takes into account the views of other practitioners and, where relevant, other professionals working with the child
  • reflects the voice of the child

Download our handy guide answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the progress check:

The Department for Education (DfE) have produced guidance to provide support for early years practitioners when completing the early years foundation stage (EYFS) progress check at age 2

This guidance is for early years practitioners working with children aged between 2 and 3, including:

  • registered childminders
  • nursery schools and nursery classes
  • other early years settings

It will help early years practitioners to:

  • review a child’s development and progress in the 3 prime areas of learning and development in the EYFS framework
  • identify any areas of concern or additional development needs
  • work with parents and other professionals to put in place appropriate support and intervention

The DfE has also published a vodcast to explain the new guidance to early years practitioners and a blog that highlights why the progress check is important now, more than ever as we support children to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DfE funded the East London Research School to produce a guide for parents of children from birth to five years old. It will help parents find out more about their child’s learning and development in the EYFS called 'What to expect in the EYFS' document | From pregnancy to children aged 5 ( (PDF 6MB).

Children should be at the heart of all transition arrangements. Providing a quality transition process should not be underestimated for the impact it can have on a child's future learning and development as they move on to school.

Transitions should be considered as a continuous and evolving process adapted to meet the needs of the individual child and their families, not a one off event and therefore, the Transition Document should be completed as part of this process.

The Transition Document is a summative record and therefore, should reflect children's skills, interests and uniqueness on leaving your setting, so should be completed towards the latter end of the summer term. Getting the timing right can be tricky, too soon and it is not a reflection of children's true capabilities at the end of the academic year, often when there can be a surge in their progress. The information captured supports receiving staff to prepare for the child's arrival in school and should be passed on before the end of term.

The council transition document and supporting guidance for early years providers for 2022 is available by request. Please email [email protected].

The EYFS Profile is statutory and must be completed for each child in the final term of the year they reach 5 and submitted to West Northamptonshire Council no later than 30 June 2023.

The EYFS Profile is intended to provide a reliable, valid and accurate assessment of each child’s development at the end of EYFS based on outcomes in relation to 17 early learning goals (ELG) descriptors. You can find out more information about the EYFS profile in the Early years foundation stage profile handbook - GOV.UK (

You are required to inform us if you have a school aged child on roll that will be completing the EYFS in your childminding or early years setting. We will be able to offer you guidance on completing the EYFS profile. 

To contact the School Effectiveness Team please email [email protected].

The Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) is a short assessment, taken in the first six weeks in which a child starts their reception year at school. The RBA assesses a child in early mathematics, literacy, communication and language.

The purpose of the RBA is to form the starting point for cohort-level school progress measures. Data from the RBA is compared to key stage 2 outcomes 7 years later to form the overall progress measure for a school. The RBA is not used to make judgements about early years provision. It is solely intended for use within the primary school progress measure.

Last updated 21 May 2024