New Early Learning Goals released, as autumn pilot confirmed

Friday, June 22, 2018

Twenty-five schools in England will take part in a pilot of the revised Early Learning goals for the end of the Reception Year.

  • Revised Early Learning Goals published
  • Consultation with sector to take place in 2019

The Department for Education said that the measures are aimed at closing the ‘word gap’ between disadvantaged children and their peers, to help children who start school struggling with language and social skills,

They are also intended to cut teachers’ workload to free up more time to support children’s early skills and produce engaging lessons.

The schools taking part will give feedback during the 2018-19 school year. The DfE said that schools were invited to take part in the pilot based on a range of criteria, including size, Ofsted rating, and Free School Meal eligibility. Those that expressed interest were chosen to ensure a good balance in the pilot.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is carried out in the final term of Reception year and is a summary of a child’s development that year against 17 Early Learning Goals (ELGs).

These look at each child’s development across a broad range of skills including language and communication, reading and writing, numbers, art and design, physical development, self-confidence and ability to build relationships, and understanding of the world.

Schools taking part in the pilot will be exempt from elements of the existing Profile while they test a revised version at the end of the summer term.

While the seven prime and specific areas of learning and development stay the same, there are changes to some of the pilot revised ELGs (see below for full list).

The ELGs for Literacy have been expanded from ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ to ‘comprehension’, ‘word reading’, and ‘writing’.

In Mathematics, the pilot version has ELGs for ‘Number’ and ‘Mathematical patterns’, in contrast to the current ELGs of ‘Numbers’ and ‘Shape, space and measure’.

In Understanding the World, the pilot ELGs are ‘past and present’, ‘people, culture and communities’ and ‘the natural world’. The current ELGs for this area of learning are ‘People and communities’, ‘the world’ and ‘technology’.

In Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) the revised goals are ‘self-regulation’, ‘managing self’, and ‘building relationships’, which would replace the current ELGs of ‘making relationships’, ‘self-confidence and self-awareness’, and ‘managing feelings and behaviour’.

The revised ELGs for physical development are ‘gross motor skills’ and ‘fine motor skills’, replacing ‘moving and handling’ and ‘health and self-care’.

Announcing the pilot, children and families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said, ‘We want to improve education for every child and the early years in a child’s life are critical in laying strong foundations for future success. That is why we want to free up more time for Reception teachers to interact with their pupils, and make sure they are developing the rich vocabulary, skills and behaviours they need to thrive at school and in later life.

‘The schools taking part in this pilot will help test these proposals, designed to cut down the burden of paperwork that exists with the current system. Teachers have the best understanding of their pupils, so it’s absolutely right that we empower them to use and trust their own professional judgment based on what they see.”

The Education Endowment Foundation, National Centre for Social Research and Action for Children will be delivering the independent evaluation of the pilot to trial the revisions to the EYFS Profile from September – July 2019.

A full consultation will take place at the end of the 2019 academic year. The DfE said it would work closely with the early years sector and experts on this.

James Bowen, director of NAHT Edge, said, ‘We are pleased to see that the Government has prioritised teacher workload when it comes to these reforms. Excessive evidence gathering, especially for moderation purposes, has for too long been a major burden for many reception class teachers. 

 ‘We are also pleased to see that the Government has chosen not to narrow the scope of the EYFSP. While we understood the apparent appeal of doing so in terms of teacher workload, we were concerned that reducing the range of Early Learning Goals could have a narrowing effect on what is taught in the Reception year, as we have seen elsewhere in the school system.

‘We welcome some of the changes to the Early Learning Goals, for example the inclusion of self-regulation is a positive step. However, we do have reservations about some of the other changes that have been made and the potential impact of these.

‘Critically, the Government has made it clear that this is a genuine pilot. Feedback from schools and Reception teachers must be taken on board during the trial process before any decisions are taken on a potential national roll-out.’

Jan Dubiel, national director of Early Excellence, said, ‘I am pleased that the Department is engaging in such a thorough and robust consultative process in developing these reforms. I applaud the fact that they are ensuring that the proposals are tested and shaped by the actual reception teachers who will use the new EYFSP. This will ensure the reforms are informed by best practice and the expertise of practitioners – especially Reception teachers – themselves.

‘The new ELGs remain in the spirit of the original, internationally renowned EYFS, focusing on the core skills, knowledge, understanding and behaviours that children need in order to thrive and develop successfully – and I am confident this has the potential to result in positive changes and ensure that practitioners continue to deliver in a holistic approach to children’s learning and development.’

Edward Melhuish, research professor at the University of Oxford, said, ‘Children need to have good language development in the pre-school years. Our research shows that where that happens we see children do better in school, socially and emotionally, and these benefits last through to adulthood.

‘The new Early Learning Goals rightly prioritise good language development but also cover the full range of children’s development, and they provide a basis for all pre-school settings to provide the experiences children need for good development that will show long-term benefits. The new Early Learning Goals will be helpful to all concerned with children’s well-being.’

At a glance: Revised Early Learning Goals that will be trialed in the pilot schools

Communication and Language

ELG Speaking

ELG Listening

Physical Development

ELG Gross motor skills

ELG Fine motor skills

Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)

ELG Self-regulation

ELG Managing self

ELG Building relationships


ELG Comprehension

ELG Word reading

ELG Writing


ELG Number

ELG Numerical Patterns

Understanding the World

ELG Past and Present

ELG People, Culture and Communities

ELG The Natural World

Expressive Arts and Design

ELG Creating with materials

ELG Performing

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