EYFS can seem like a lot of work – surely, a good teacher can assess the progress a child makes during a school year without the need to resort to form-filling, paperwork and general inconvenience? The honest answer is that no. Even the best teacher will struggle to track the many myriads and sometimes subtle changes that an early years pupil can experience. While a teacher will certainly be able to tell if a child is thriving or not, is improving or note, there is no way they can pick up on minutiae that, if not handled correctly and promptly, can lead to serious educational issues in the future, or missed opportunities for gifted children to be encouraged to extend themselves. Instead, EYFS tracking software is often employed. Allowing for minute analysis of data that can help assess a child much more effectively than a fallible human could!
Early Year Foundation Stage tracking is intensely detailed, covering a huge range of factors and adding up to a comprehensive record of a child’s intellectual, physical, and emotional development from birth to the end of the August following their 5th birthday.
It covers seven distinct fields, three of which concern the basic health and wellbeing of the child, namely PSE (personal, social and emotional) development, physical growth, and communication and language. These look at how the child is growing, how well they make friends and behave in social situations. It also ensures that they can clearly communicate, starting with basic needs and rising to more complex issues. Around these major issues, literacy and numeracy (suitably age-appropriate) are taught, alongside creative development, often called ‘expressive art and design’ and understanding the world.
All of these factors, put together, add up to a complete and comprehensive idea of the child’s emotional and physical health. Their confidence and understanding of how they fit into the world around them, how well they learn – and if there are any learning difficulties that are best managed as early as possible – and how fluently and clearly they can communicate.
While EYFS records are maintained from the moment the child goes into the system, serious assessments occur only twice: at two years old to see how the child measures up against their peers and the national statistics but also providing that information which can help educators see if previous adjustments to ways of teaching and learning have been effective or not; and then again at 5-years-old, for a final assessment before the child ‘ages out’ of the EYFS system.
In Short, is EYFS Essential?
This latter assessment is used to place the child in mainstream education, helping to set their targets for learning, and ensuring that they are not placed under too much pressure. This record, along with regular assessment, is used to allocate resources to the areas, schools, and children who need it the most. It is also a requirement by Ofsted of anyone or any establishment that is an accredited child-minder, pre-school or kindergarten that full and up-to-date EYFS information should be immediately available upon request for any child who fits the criteria. So, in short: yes, EYFS progress tracking is indeed essential!