The early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of your child from birth to 5 years old.

All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

The EYFS only applies to schools and early years providers in England. There are different early years standards in Scotland and Wales.

Areas of learning

Your child will mostly be taught through games and play.

The areas of learning are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development
  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design


Your child’s progress will be reviewed when they’re between 2 and 3 by an early years practitioner or health visitor.

Their class teacher will assess them at the end of the school year when they turn 5.

The assessment is based on classroom observation – your child won’t be tested. It uses the early learning goals, which can be found in the early years framework.

If an area of learning conflicts with your beliefs

Talk to your child’s early years provider if you think one or more areas of the EYFS conflict with your religious or philosophical beliefs. They’ll tell you if you need to ask for an ‘exemption’.

If you get an exemption, your child won’t have to take part in a specific area of learning for 12 months.

Ask for an exemption

Write to your early years provider if you decide to ask for an exemption. You must explain how your religious or philosophical beliefs conflict with:

  • an area of learning
  • a learning goal or assessment

Your early years provider will decide if you can get an exemption. If you get one, you’ll need to apply again after 12 months.


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