Did you know that there is a set of important Early Learning Goals (“ELGs”) prescribed for every child at nursery or pre-school in England? The goals are even enshrined in law under the Childcare Act of 2006. It’s all part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’), which is the statutory framework governing the entire approach to early years provision in England. But what are the early learning goals? What is their purpose? Why do they exist? Today we’ll take a deep dive into the Early Learning Goals to answer all such questions and more. It’ll also highlight how early years providers like Tic Toc Nursery work, behind the scenes, to get the best outcome for every child under their care. Let’s take a look…
What is the Purpose of the Early Learning Goals?
In essence, the purpose of the Early Learning Goals is to ensure that every child reaches their full learning and development potential. By achieving personal bests in every area, they will have the very best foundations set up for their ongoing future. It’s also a way to ensure that they are as “school-ready” as possible at the age of five, when they leave early years provision and transition to Year 1 at school. This will enable them to hit the ground running there — and accomplish a flying start. They will also take with them a natural enthusiasm to learn that they have gained during their early years. Studies show that children’s outcomes and life chances are significantly improved when a good approach to early years learning and development has been implemented. Indeed, that’s one of the many reasons why the UK’s Department of Education (‘DfE’) offers free childcare to eligible 2-year-olds and to all 3 and 4-year-old children living in England.
The ELGs “support teachers to make a holistic, best-fit judgement about a child’s development, and their readiness for year 1.” (DfE)
How are Early Learning Goals Assessed, and By Whom?
Every under-five child at officially-registered childcare settings in England is assessed against their Early Learning Goals on an ongoing basis. Firstly, this is done by the childcare professionals at the setting. That will include a Key Person, who is allocated to each individual child. The ELGs are used as benchmarks against which each child’s learning and developmental milestones are measured, although the overall learning and development plan for each child will be completely tailored to their particular strengths and weaknesses. In this way, childcare professionals will know if the child is reaching their full potential in each area at any given point. If not, then extra focus can be used to address any shortcomings, as well as any special needs being identified. If identified, appropriate arrangements can be put in place, including any specialist professional help where needed. Weaker areas can be strengthened and areas of of particular talent can be maximised so that the child achieves their fullest potential.
Childcare settings like Tic Toc Nursery will also feed back to parents, and ideally vice-versa, so that their efforts towards the children’s goals can be combined and thus optimised.
“Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.” (DfE ‘Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage’ document)
Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) will also regularly check registered childcare settings to make sure that, amongst other things, the EYFS early years framework is being followed appropriately. Part of that will include ensuring that Early Learning Goals are set for each child, are appropriate for them, and are being benchmarked and assessed in all the right ways so that children’s progress is optimal.
What Are the Early Learning Goals (ESGs)?
The Early Learning Goals span five pages of the Department of Education’s EYFS learning and development framework document and these can be read in full in pages 11 to 15 inclusive — click the bold link above to download the document (Acrobat PDF format). To give you an idea, however, they are broken up into a sub-set of goals that address each of the 7 areas of the EYFS curriculum. A few examples follow.
1. Goal Examples for Communication & Language
- Attentive listening;
- Understanding what’s being discussed;
- Responding appropriately;
- Engaging in two-way conversation about the topic under discussion;
- Being able to converse one-to-one and as part of a small group;
- Using appropriate and recently-introduced vocabulary when speaking;
- Knowing when to use present, past and future tenses and more.
2. Goal Examples for Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Demonstrating self-regulation when it comes to behaviour;
- Controlling impulses appropriately;
- Being able to follow instructions correctly;
- Demonstrating the ability to be patient and sensitive to others;
- Showing tenacity and confidence when facing one or more challenges;
- Becoming more independent and resilient;
- Demonstrating the ability to build positive relationships with adults and peers;
- Managing their own hygiene and personal needs (washing hands etc.);
- Recognising the importance of a healthy diet and more.
3. Goal Examples for Physical Development
- The various goals centre mostly around development of good gross and fine motor skills;
- Demonstrating good balance, strength and coordination;
- Negotiating obstacles and spaces well, with consideration for others;
- Good movement skills (running, jumping, dancing, etc.);
- The ability to effectively hold writing instruments;
- The ability to to use small tools like scissors, cutlery and paint brushes;
- Demonstrating accuracy when mark-making (drawing etc.) and more.
4. Goal Examples for Literacy
- Demonstrating comprehension of subject matter read to them;
- Use of appropriate feedback and vocabulary about such topics;
- Showing the ability to make an appropriate sound for each letter of the alphabet;
- Extending this to multi-syllable words and more complex phonics;
- Demonstration of correctly written letters, words and sentences … and more.
5. Goal Examples for Mathematics
- The ability to count, first to 10 and later to 20;
- Recognition of the patterns within counting progressions;
- Recognition of quantities without counting;
- Recognition of odds, evens, number bonds and more.
6. Goal Examples for Understanding the World
- Demonstrating knowledge of those around them as well as more distant;
- Appreciation of different cultures, religions and communities;
- Comprehension of similarities and differences between different societies and groups;
- Understanding the significance of the past and how it’s different to the present;
- Exploring and making sense of the natural world around them;
- Understanding the impact of natural processes like seasons, states of matter and more.
7. Goal Examples for Expressive Arts & Design
- Safe and appropriate use of creative materials, tools and techniques;
- Experimentation with colour, texture, form, function and design;
- Creation/recounting stories, using appropriate props and role-play;
- Sharing and explaining creations with peers and tutors;
- Learning and recounting of nursery rhymes and singing of songs;
- Moving in time to music and much more.
When you look at even our very abridged version of the Early Learning Goals, it’s easy to see how large they are in scope, covering a huge number of aspects of every child’s learning and development. Using this approach, with a custom-designed learning and development programme and continual assessment, gives every child the best possible chance for the most favourable outcomes in their lives. Such foundations are priceless and, in short, will give every child the tools to absolutely thrive.
A High Quality Early Years Education for Your Child in Clayhall, Ilford, Essex
If you want to give your baby, toddler or under-five child the very best start in life, ensure you choose the best nursery or pre-school for their early years education. Tic Toc Nursery would be an excellent choice if you are looking for the best nurseries or pre-schools in Clayhall, Ilford, in Essex. If you live or work in Barkingside, Gants Hill, Redbridge, South Woodford or Fulwell Cross, we are also conveniently close by — just a few minutes away. To make contact with us, arrange a visit to the childcare setting with your child or simply to ask a question, start the ball rolling by clicking a button below. We’d love to hear from you!