The Department for Education have just published the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) data for 2021/22. This is the first set of published data since the EYFS reforms of 2021. No EYFSP data was published in 2019 and 2020 due to the assessments being made non-statutory during the pandemic. So what does the data tell us?
1. We can’t distinguish between the impact of changing the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) and the impact of the pandemic
We might have expected to see the impact of the pandemic on this cohort of children’s learning, but the ELGs have changed sufficiently that we can’t do a direct comparison with previous cohorts. For example, the ELG for technology was previously the one in which average outcomes were highest, but this has been removed with no similar ELG to replace it, which might be expected to bring down the total scores across all ELGs.
In 2019, 70.7% of children reached the expected level of develop in all ELGs compared to 63.4% in 2022, with a drop across all the ELGs. It’s possible that could be pandemic-related, but it could just be the change in the ELGs as something similar happened when they were last changed in 2012. If it were pandemic-related, we might expect to see more impact on some areas than others. A lot of research has focused on the impact on children’s communication and language, their personal social and emotional development and their physical development, but there is no data in the EYFSP that suggests these areas have been more affected than others. Equally, it’s plausible that the pandemic would have hit all areas of develoment equally. If we want to know the answer to these questions, we need to look elsewhere for evidence.
2. Not all ELGs are equally achievable
As in previous years, fewer children achieve the ELGs for maths and literacy than other ELGs. It remains the case that the ELGs are not based on evidence of what children typically achieve at the end of Reception, but reflect what policy makers would like them to achieve. This makes the continued use of the phrase “Good Level of Development” questionable, particularly given the inclusion of maths and literacy.
3. It is still the case that EYSP outcomes correlate with gender, SEND, age, ethnicity and socio-economic background
The results show:
- a 13.2% gender difference (71.9% of girls achieved the GLD compared to 58.7% of boys)
- a 7% difference for English as an Additional Language (EAL)
- a 19.6% difference for children eligible for free school meals (68.8% compared to 49.1%) and a difference of 20% between the children who live in the 10% most and 10% least deprived areas.
- an 18.2% difference between summer and autumn born children (73.8% for autumn born compared to 55.7% for summer born)
- Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are much less likely to achieve the GLD ( 7 in 10 Chinese, Indian, and white and Asian children had a good level of development, compared to fewer than 4 in 10 Gypsy/Roma and traveller of Irish heritage children)
- Of those with any special educational need, the percentage of children with SEN support with a good level of development was over six times that of children with an education, health and care (EHC) plan (22.9% compared with 3.6%). Both of these are well below the score for those without SEND.
If these figures tell us anything it is that we have a long way to go to create a fully inclusive system in which every child is enabled to fulfil their potential.