From September 2018, 25 schools across England will be trialling a new set of goals for four and five year olds. These will set out where children will be expected to progress to in language and vocabulary, as well as maths and literacy.
These new Early Learning Goals have been designed in an effort to create more time for pupil interaction by decreasing teachers’ workloads. They are also expected to help teachers take a more balanced view of their pupils’ development. The new measures have come about in response to teachers’ feedback that they have to collect too many supporting documents to evidence their own view of a child’s progress. This is taking too much of their time away from important interactive time with pupils.
The revised Early Learning Goals aim to reduce the perceived communication gap between disadvantaged children and their counterparts, by boosting speech and vocabulary. This should help children who start school with language issues. The focus of the Early Learning Goals has moved to broadening and deepening the vocabulary, as well as establishing a solid basis for maths and literacy learning. The ability of a child to self-regulate their emotions is also included. Some of the existing Early Learning Goals do not appear in the proposed new structure, such as Health and Self-Care and Exploring.
The pilot for the new Early Learning Goals is the first stage of the Government’s consultation process into the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. This will include a review of whether fewer Early Learning Goals should be measured. Action for Children, the National Centre for Social Research and the Education Endowment Foundation will be involved in the evaluation of the pilot, which will be followed by the full public consultation. This consultation stage will include feedback from the pilot schools as well as practitioners and experts. The new set of Early Learning Goals are due to be implemented across all schools from 2020.
There are currently seventeen Early Learning Goals which Reception age children are measured against at the end of their first year of school, grouped under the seven areas of learning in the EYFS. Children are marked as either emerging, enabling or exceeding each of the areas, with assessments being based on observations throughout the year. These assessments sit alongside comments on the Characteristics of Effective Learning, which include playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically. These Characteristics are observed against in nursery and pre-school settings from the start of the EYFS.
Even before the pilot has commenced, experts have voiced their opinions about the new Early Learning Goals and whether these are in fact an improvement on the existing ones. However, the increased focus on communication and vocabulary is seen as a very positive step.
The revised Early Learning Goals are grouped as follows, with specific measures for each heading:
Communication and Language
- Word Reading
- Numerical Patterns
- Gross Motor Skills
- Fine Motor Skills
Social and Emotional Development
- Managing Self
- Building Relationships
Understanding the World
- Past and Present
- People, Culture and Communities
- The Natural World
Expressive Arts and Design
- Creating with Materials