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EYFS reforms could lead to “tick-box” approach, Alliance warns

By Rachel Lawlerboy painting EYFS reforms

The Alliance has warned that proposed changes to the EYFS could result in a “tick-box” approach to early assessment, in its response to the government consultation on the issue.

The consultation, which closes today, seeks opinion from across the early years sector on the government’s proposed reforms. The reforms include changes to the early learning goals (ELGs) and the educational programmes

In its response to the consultation, the Alliance has expressed concerns that the proposed new ELGs could be viewed as “a series of bullet point statements”, which could inadvertently create a “tick-box approach to EYFSP assessment”.

Proposed reforms
The Alliance’s response outlines a number of other concerns about the proposed reforms, including: 

  • A lack of focus on the learning and development of younger children – despite the fact that the EYFS covers children from 0-5 – due to an emphasis on preparing children for Year 1.
  • Lack of reference to how best to support the learning and development of children speaking English as an additional language and children with additional needs and/or disabilities.
  • The reduction of the number of Communication and language ELGs from three to two.
  • The removal of space, shape and measure from the Mathematics ELG.


"Narrow, tick-box approach"
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “We are deeply concerned by a number of the proposed reforms to the EYFS. 

“Instead of focusing on how best the early development of all young children can be supported, the changes indicate a clear shift towards a narrow, tick-box approach to both learning and assessment.

“Such a move risks encouraging both early years practitioners and reception teachers to ‘teach to the goals’ rather than developing and maintaining a broad, child-centred approach, underpinned by a commitment to learning through play – practice that we as a sector know is best for supporting early development.

“We urge the Department for Education to listen to the concerns of the sector, genuinely engage with the consultation responses and rethink its planned changes ahead of roll-out. If we are going to make changes to such a fundamental aspect of early years education, we need to make sure those changes are positive ones.”

Find out more
Read the Alliance's response to the consultation in full
EYFS reforms - a guide to the changes