What is the EYFS Profile?

The EYFS Profile is a summary of a child’s attainment at the end of their Foundation Stage. The document contains a written commentary of an Early Years practitioner related to the three prime and four specific areas of learning, as well as the three characteristics of effective learning. The practitioner provides information as to what extent each child in their care is meeting the level of development outlined by the EYFS, whether the child exceeds the expected outcomes, or whether the child is at the emerging level of attainment.

What is the purpose of the EYFS Profile?

The main function of the EYFS Profile is to identify a child’s strengths and areas of concern, to inform the parents about their child’s progress, to support child’s development, and to smooth their transition to Key Stage One. This transition should be as seamless as possible, therefore the EYFS Profile plays an important role as it helps the Key Stage One teachers plan appropriate learning experiences and curriculum that will satisfy the needs of individual children.

Early Years practitioners and Year One teachers should work together to discuss the information outlined in the EYFS Profile, and Year One teachers should be involved in the EYFS Profile moderation to better understand the findings of Early Years practitioners. 

Who needs to complete it?

Early Years practitioners (such as nursery teachers or childminders) are responsible for completing the EYFS Profile for each child under their care who reaches the age of 5. If you care for such children, you need to perform an ongoing assessment of their learning and development during the final year of their Foundation Stage, review your findings at the final term of the Foundation Stage, and then use this information to make an informed decision regarding all 17 Early Learning Goals. Each ELG needs to be considered and described separately, and all practitioners must remember about including in their final assessment other contributors’ perspectives such as parents, other professionals, and the children themselves.

What are Early Learning Goals (ELG)?

The abbreviation ELG stands for the 17 Early Learning Goals against which all practitioners need to assess all children in their care. They are divided into the three Prime Areas of Learning (communication and language, physical development, and personal, social & emotional development) and the four Specific Areas of Learning (literacy, mathematics, understanding the world, expressive arts and design). The EYFS Handbook provides detailed descriptions of each ELG to specify what kind of learning, skills, and attitudes they cover. Practitioners must also assess each child against three Characteristics of Effective Learning — playing and exploring, active learning, and creating & thinking critically.

How do I collect evidence for the EYFS Profile?

Although there is no requirement as to any specific method of collecting the evidence that you need to adopt, an ongoing observation is one of the most reliable ways. Observation will allow you to build a broader picture of your child’s learning and their attainment, and performing it on an ongoing basis will help you recognise the milestones in your children’s learning as well as help you understand the learning process.

As no learning happens overnight, you need to have insight into the broader process of how your children acquire certain skills and demonstrate their understanding and attitudes. Observation will provide you with plenty of opportunities to notice and understand your children’s motivations, the challenges related to their individual needs, and how they gradually stretch their skills. As a practitioner, you should possess relevant knowledge and understanding of child development as well the knowledge of your children’s individual needs. Observation will also help you approach the assessment holistically, provided that you are doing it regularly and include parents’, children’s and other practitioners’ perspectives.

Additionally, you may also capture children’s learning by taking photos of them being engaged in activities or of their final work products, and by audio or video recording their performance (if you have their parents’ permission to do so). You need to remember that the assessment must be ongoing and that a snapshot observation or another single piece of evidence will never be sufficient to demonstrate the process of your child’s learning.

Do I need to set up separate observation sessions?

No, you do not need to withdraw yourself from interacting with your children in order to observe them. Your observations should actually be done as part of your high-quality interaction with your children. You may observe them as they play, or as you play or discuss their activities with them. Ideally, you will capture your children’s spontaneous behaviour, observe how they initiate their play and discussions with others, and notice how they interact with other children and face everyday challenges.

You do not need to set up specific activities only for the purposes of assessment. In fact, if you do so, the results might not truly reflect your children’s actual needs and may provide you with a distorted picture of their learning. Instead, you should support their learning by offering enabling environments in which they can explore safely in their own way. This should give you excellent, useful hints on your children’s attainments. 

Do I need to write extensive observation records?

No, there is no such requirement. In fact, you should not be spending too much time on recording your observations, nor do you need any special assessment tools to do so. Nurseries and childminders are encouraged to adopt any assessment and evidence collection system that best suits their setting as long as the activities are in line with the overall EYFS requirements. You may wish to come up with a simple observation template that you will use for jotting down the most important findings and then cross-reference them with the Early Learning Goals. You may also take photos of your children while they are engaged in activities or while playing and later add short informative commentaries to them.

Early Years practitioners can also consult the EYFS Profile Handbook 2014 (by Standards & Testing Agency) which explains in detail what is required of them and which offers more specific guidelines on completing the EYFS Profile.

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Vito Matt is a Curriculum Developer and Instructional Designer for e-learning courses, interactive workshops and conferences, and educational mobile app games.

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