The proportion of four- and five-year-olds who are judged at a "good level of development" at the end of Reception has risen for the fifth year in a row, new government statistics show.
In 2019, 71.8 per cent of pupils reached the Department for Education's Early Years Foundation Stage profile benchmark, up from 71.5 per cent in 2018.
The profile, which is based on teachers’ observations of their pupils, covers a wide range of children’s abilities and is broadly popular among practitioners.
Quick read: Five questions we need to ask about EYFS
To reach a "good level of development" children must have reached the early learning goal (ELG) in 12 of the 17 areas in which they are assessed.
These include being able to count to 20, read simple sentences and take turns when playing.
The proportion of children who achieved the "expected level" in all early learning goals at the end of Reception has also increased by 0.5 per cent on last year to 70.7 per cent.
The gender gap has again reduced this year but girls are still performing better than boys. The proportion of girls achieving at least the expected level was 77.6 per cent compared with boys at 64.0 per cent.
What is the Early Years Foundation Stage profile?
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the period of learning from birth to age 5 – before key stage 1 begins in Year 1.
The EYFS profile is an assessment of children’s achievements at the end of the Reception year – the last year of the early years foundation stage.
Children are assessed against 17 early learning goals. The child’s profile will include whether children are below, at or above these goals – known as emerging, expected or exceeding the level expected by the end of Reception year.
The profile also includes a paragraph on how children demonstrate three “characteristics of effective learning” which are: playing and exploring, active learning and creating; and thinking critically.
What's next for the EYFS profile?
Last year the government announced new draft early learning goals to be trialled in 25 schools – including exploring patterns of numbers within numbers up to 10, singing a range of well-known nursery rhymes and saying a sound for each letter in the alphabet.
The proposals are expected to ease the burden of the moderation process and enable teachers to "make a rounded judgement about a child’s development".
The draft goals were piloted in September 2018 and now are in the process of being refined, before they are sent out to full consultation.