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The Early years foundation stage

The Early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all childcare providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop and are kept healthy and safe. It covers the first stage of a child’s care, learning and development, from birth to five years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes. The EYFS only applies to schools and early years providers in England.

The EYFS seeks to provide:

  • quality and consistency in all early years settings, so that every child makes progress and no child is 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

The EYFS sets out:

  • the seven areas of learning and development which shape children's play and experiences
  • the early learning goals stating the knowledge, skills and understanding children should have at the end of the academic year in which they turn five
  • the requirements for measuring children's progress and reporting to parents and/or carers
  • the safeguarding and welfare requirements you must follow to keep children safe and promote their welfare

For further information see the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (

Supporting documents

The following documents help support the EYFS framework.

Guidance: Development Matters ( - Non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage. Development Matters offers a top-level view of how children develop and learn for all early years practitioners.

Birth to 5 Matters - Non-statutory guidance for the EYFS. Birth to 5 Matters provides comprehensive guidance, drawing on previous guidance for the EYFS which has been updated in order to reflect recent research, to meet the needs of practitioners, to respond to current issues in society, to meet the needs of children today and to lay a strong foundation for their futures.

Help for early years providers ( is available to access resources, advice and support to help you apply the requirements of the EYFS framework in your early years provision.

Read the guidance about the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and the EYFS ( to learn more about delivering the current and revised early years foundation stage.

Last updated 21 May 2024