Academic year 2022/23

Early years foundation stage profile results

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Introduction

These statistics report on teacher assessments of children’s development at the end of the early years foundation stage (EYFS), specifically the end of the academic year in which a child turns 5. This is typically the summer term of reception year. The assessment framework, or EYFS Profile, consists of 17 early learning goals (ELGs) across 7 areas of learning.

This is the second publication since the 2021/22 EYFS reforms were introduced in September 2021. As part of those reforms, the EYFS Profile was significantly revised. It is therefore not possible to directly compare 2021/22 and 2022/23 assessment outcomes with earlier years.

This statistical commentary covers the following at national level: 

  • the percentage of children assessed to be at the ‘expected’ level in each of the 17 ELGs (across the 7 areas of learning).
  • the percentage of children with a good level of development, including breakdowns by child characteristics and sub-national geographies.
  • the percentage of children at the expected level across all 17 ELGs.
  • the average number of ELGs for which children are at the expected level.
  • the percentage of children at the expected level in the communication and language and literacy areas of learning.

Additional statistics can be found in the underlying data for this publication, including:

  • further breakdowns of the above by individual and multiple child characteristics and sub-national geographies. 
  • the percentage of children assessed to be at the ‘emerging’ level in each of the 17 ELGs, including breakdowns by child characteristics and sub-national geographies.

Headline facts and figures - 2022/23

Children with a good level of development

67.2%

Up from 65.2% in 2021/22

What's this?

Children are defined as having a good level of development if they are at the expected level for the 12 early learning goals within the 5 areas of learning relating to: communication and language; personal, social and emotional development; physical development; literacy; and mathematics.

Children at expected level across all early learning goals

65.6%

Up from 63.4% in 2021/22

What's this?

These children were at the expected level for all 17 early learning goals. This includes the 2 areas of learning relating to understanding the world and expressive arts and design, which are not included in the good level of development measure.

Average number of early learning goals at expected level

14.1

Unchanged from 2021/22

What's this?

The mean number of early learning goals children were at the expected level for. The maximum number would be 17, if every child was at the expected level for every early learning goal.

The percentages of children with a good level of development and at the expected level across all 17 early learning goals have increased by around 2 percentage points in 2022/23.

The increases seen may be attributable to gradual recovery from disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (rises were also seen over the same period in the most recent phonics and key stage 1 statistics release) and practitioners having greater familiarisation with the new assessment framework. For example, there was also a sharp rise in assessment outcomes between 2012/13 and 2013/14 following the EYFS Profile being previously revised at the start of the 2012/13 academic year.

In 2022/23, the average number of early learning goals at the expected level remained at 14.1 per child.

Physical development was still the area of learning with the highest percentage of children at the expected level (85.2%) in 2022/23, whilst literacy was still the lowest (69.7%). Gross motor skills was still the early learning goal (ELG) with the highest percentage of children at the expected level (92.1%), whilst writing was still the lowest (71.0%). Compared with a year earlier, all areas of learning and most ELGs increased at least slightly.

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About these statistics

The statutory EYFS framework sets the standards and requirements that all early years providers must follow to ensure all children have the best start in life and are prepared for school. It requires that children be assessed against the EYFS Profile in the summer term of the academic year in which they turn 5. 

The EYFS Profile is intended to provide an accurate representation of each child’s development at the end of the EYFS to support their transition into year 1. It is made up of an assessment of the child’s outcomes in relation to 17 early learning goals (ELGs) across 7 areas of learning. 

The 3 prime areas of learning are: communication and language; personal, social and emotional development; and physical development. These prime areas are particularly important for children’s healthy development and are the basis for successful learning in the other 4 specific areas of learning: literacy; mathematics; understanding the world; and expressive arts and design.

As shown in the table below, children are defined as having a good level of development at the end of the EYFS if they are at the expected level for the 12 ELGs within the 5 areas of learning relating to: communication and language; personal, social and emotional development; physical development; literacy; and mathematics. 

Area of learning Early learning goalPart of the good  level of development measure
Prime areas of learningCommunication and languageListening, attention and understandingYes
SpeakingYes
Personal, social and emotional developmentSelf-regulationYes
Managing selfYes
Building relationshipsYes
Physical developmentGross motor skillsYes
Fine motor skillsYes
Specific areas of learningLiteracyComprehensionYes
Word readingYes
WritingYes
MathematicsNumberYes
Numerical patternsYes
Understanding the worldPast and presentNo
People, culture and communitiesNo
The natural worldNo
Expressive arts and designCreating with materialsNo
Being imaginative and expressiveNo

Changes to the EYFS Profile in 2021 

As part of wider early education reforms to the EYFS, the EYFS Profile was revised significantly in September 2021. Changes from the previous framework include:

  • revisions to all 7 areas of learning in the EYFS, with new educational programmes that set out what children must experience and learn about 
  • revisions to all 17 ELGs across the 7 areas of learning to make these clearer and more precise and to make it easier for practitioners to understand what is required for a child to be at the expected level of development
  • removal of ‘exceeding’ assessment band 
  • removal of statutory local authority moderation 

It is therefore not possible to directly compare 2021/22 and 2022/23 assessment outcomes with earlier years.

Exemptions 

The early years foundation stage profile must be completed for all children unless:

  • an exemption has been granted for the setting (reserved for independent schools or schools with established principles in conflict with the EYFS) 
  • an exemption has been granted for an individual child (reserved only for cases where a child’s family has religious or philosophical beliefs that cannot be reconciled with the EYFS)
  • the child is continuing in early years foundation stage provision beyond the year in which they turn 5.

The guidance on exemptions was updated in the 2022/23 academic year as part of the continued efforts to discourage the use of the EYFS Profile as an accountability measure. Previously, exemptions could also be granted for children who had not spent a long time in a setting for example due to illness or not starting at a setting until a substantial part of the academic year had gone by. As a result, 0.3% (1,700) of children were excluded from the statistics due to having an exemption in 2022/23, down from 0.7% (4,500) in 2021/22.

This will have resulted in a slight fall in the outcomes measures across the child cohort as a whole (whether at national or sub-national level). In addition, some cohorts, for example those with special educational needs (SEN), will have been particularly impacted (1.5% of the SEN cohort were recorded as having an exemption in 2022/23 compared with 2.9% in 2021/22). However, the precise impact of this on outcomes is hard to determine. Nonetheless, the fall in children exempted should be considered when comparing the 2021/22 and 2022/23 data.

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Disruption to early years provision and family life and the limiting of social contact with peers during the pandemic is likely to have affected EYFS assessment outcomes. Early years settings were closed to all but vulnerable children and children of critical workers between March and June 2020, when the children taking the EYFS assessment in 2022/23 were approximately two years old, and many settings will have faced ongoing disruption of varying degrees - for example due to staff absence. Also, social contact with peers was limited for much of 2020 and some of 2021. 

Decreases were seen between 2018/19 and 2021/22 in attainment elsewhere, for example in the phonics screening check and key stage 1 national curriculum assessments. Most recently, between 2021/22 and 2022/23, attainment for the phonics and screening check and key stage 1 national curriculum assessments increased.

It is not possible to ascertain the scale of the impact of the pandemic on the development of children at national or individual levels at the end of the EYFS from the 2021/22 or 2022/23 EYFS statistics alone, as the EYFS Profile was revised in September 2021 and so direct comparisons between data from 2021/22 onwards and earlier years are not possible.

Data collection

Data is collected from local authorities covering state-funded schools and private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers (including childminders) as part of the EYFS Profile return. This data is then matched to other data sources, including the school and early years censuses, to obtain information on pupil characteristics.

Headline measures

All of the headline measures in the chart below have increased by around 2 percentage points in 2022/23. For context, the total number of children assessed as under the EYFS Profile in 2022/23 was 618,891 (compared to 622,583 in 2021/22). 

Whilst 2021/22 and 2022/23 assessment outcomes are not directly comparable with earlier years due to significant changes to the EYFS Profile (see ‘About these statistics’ section for more information), a time series of the headline EYFS measures is shown below for context.

The increases seen may be attributable to gradual recovery from disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (rises were also seen over the same period in the most recent phonics and key stage 1 statistics release) and practitioners having greater familiarisation with the new assessment framework. For example, there was also a sharp rise in assessment outcomes between 2012/13 and 2013/14 following the EYFS Profile being previously revised at the start of the 2012/13 academic year.

In 2022/23, the average number of early learning goals at the expected level was unchanged from a year earlier (14.1 per child).

Areas of learning and early learning goals

Areas of learning

In 2022/23, physical development was the area of learning with the highest percentage of children at the expected level (although expressive arts and design was only slightly less), whilst literacy was the lowest, with a difference of over 15 percentage points between the two. This pattern is unchanged from 2021/22.  

Between 2021/22 and 2022/23, the percentage of children at the expected level increased at least slightly (by between 0.2 and 1.7 percentage points) across all 7 areas of learning.

Early learning goals

In 2022/23, gross motor skills was the early learning goal (ELG) with the highest percentage of children at the expected level, whilst writing was the lowest, with a difference of over 20 percentage points between the two. Again, this pattern is unchanged from 2021/22. 

Between 2021/22 and 2022/23, the percentage of children at the expected level either stayed the same or increased at least slightly (by between 0.1 and 1.5 percentage points) for every ELG except building relationships, where it fell slightly (by 0.2 percentage points).

Good level of development by child characteristics

In 2022/23, more girls than boys had a good level of development, with the gap widening slightly compared with a year earlier (by 0.4 percentage points).

A higher percentage of autumn-born children had a good level of development than summer-born children and a higher percentage of children not eligible for free school meals had a good level of development than children eligible to receive them. For both characteristics, the difference was over 15 percentage points in 2022/23 but this has narrowed by at least 0.5 percentage points compared with a year earlier. 

A higher percentage of children with English as their first language had a good level of development than those with English as an additional language. Between 2021/22 and 2022/23, the difference remained fairly stable. 

Figure 4: Percentage of children with a good level of development by child characteristics, 2021/22 and 2022/23

Characteristic

Characteristic 
type

2021/22

2022/23

Change  
 (pp)

GenderGirls

71.9

74.2

2.3

Boys

58.7

60.6

1.9

Difference (pp)

13.2

13.6

0.4

First languageEnglish

67.1

69.3

2.2

Other than English

60.1

62.4

2.3

Difference (pp)

7.0

6.9

-0.1

Free school mealsNot eligible

69.5

71.5

2.0

Eligible

49.1

51.6

2.5

Difference (pp)

20.4

19.9

-0.5

Term of birthAutumn-born

73.8

75.4

1.6

Summer-born

57.0

59.4

2.4

Difference (pp)

16.8

16.0

-0.8

  1. ‘pp’ indicates percentage point
  2. In previous publications, the category ‘Not known to be eligible for free school meals’ included both those not eligible for free school meals and those not known to be eligible for free school meals (i.e. children who did not appear in the school census). In this 2022/23 release, as a methodological improvement, the categories have been split out and are now ‘Eligible for free school meals’, ‘Not eligible for free school meals’ and ‘Unclassified’ (i.e. children who did not appear in the schools census). Data for 2021/22 has been revised to reflect this change. 
  3. Autumn-born: September to December. Summer-born: April to August. In previous publications, children born in April were classified as spring-born. In the 2022/23 release, children born in April are now classified as summer-born to align with other departmental outputs. Data for 2021/22 has been revised to reflect this change.

Ethnicity 

The statistics below are based on children with a recorded/known ethnicity. In 2022/23, 3.3% of children assessed under the EYFS Profile had an unclassified/not known ethnicity (up slightly from 3.0% in 2021/22).

Chinese children had the highest proportion with a good level of development, whilst travellers of Irish heritage and Gypsy/Roma children had the lowest proportions, with differences of over 40 percentage points.

Between 2021/22 and 2022/23, the percentage of children with a good level of development increased by at least one percentage point across every ethnicity grouping except for Indian children, which remained unchanged, and travellers of Irish heritage children, which fell by over 2 percentage points.

Special educational needs (SEN)

SEN support

SEN support means support that is additional to, or different from, the support generally made for other children of the same age in a school. It is provided for pupils who are identified as having a learning difficulty or a disability that requires extra or different help to that normally provided as part of the school’s usual curriculum offer. A pupil on SEN support will not have an education, health and care plan.

Education, health and care (EHC) plans

A local authority may issue an Education, health and care plan for a pupil who needs more support than is available through SEN support. This will follow a statutory assessment process whereby the local authority considers the pupil’s special educational needs and any relevant health and social care needs; sets out long term outcomes; and specifies provision which will deliver additional support to meet those needs.

In 2022/23, there was a difference of over 20 percentage points between the percentage of children with SEN support and the percentage of children with an EHC plan with a good level of development. This difference has increased by over one percentage point between 2021/22 and 2022/23. 

Figure 6: Percentage of children with a good level of development by special educational need category, 2021/22 and 2022/23

SEN category

2021/22

2022/23

Change 
(pp)

All SEN

18.8

19.8

1.0

     SEN support

22.9

24.3

1.4

     EHC plan

3.6

3.8

 0.2

     Difference (pp)

19.3

20.5

1.2

  1. ‘pp’ indicates percentage point

Deprivation

Outcomes also vary by levels of income deprivation. One way of measuring this is by using the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), based on the child’s residence (for more information see the methodology page). The percentage of children with a good level of development is lowest for those who live in the 10% most deprived areas and rises incrementally to being the highest for those who live in the 10% least deprived areas. 

Between 2021/22 and 2022/23, the percentage of children with a good level of development increased across all IDACI deciles, with children who live in the 10% most deprived areas having the largest rise (2.8 percentage points) and children who live in the 10% least deprived areas having the smallest rise (1.3 percentage points). This has resulted in a narrowing of the difference between these two deciles, falling from 20.0 percentage points in 2021/22 to 18.5 percentage points in 2022/23. 

Good level of development by region and local authority

There is variation in outcomes between different areas. Of the regions, in 2022/23, the South East had the highest percentage of children with a good level of development whilst the North West had the lowest. All regions had rises of at least one percentage point between 2021/22 and 2022/23, with the gap narrowing between those with the lowest and highest percentages of children with a good level of development by just under one percentage point.

In 2022/23, 26 local authorities (17.0%) had at least 7 in 10 children with a good level of development, up from 18 (11.8%) in 2021/22. Conversely, just 1 local authority (0.7%) had fewer than 6 in 10 children with a good level of development in 2022/23, down from 10 LAs (6.6%) in 2021/22.

Excluding the City of London and Isles of Scilly (which had relatively small numbers of children in 2021/22 and 2022/23), the percentage of children with a good level of development decreased in 12 local authorities (8.1%) between 2021/22 and 2022/23 (ranging from 0.1 to 2.3 percentage points). In contrast, the percentage of children with a good level of development increased in 136 local authorities (91.3%) between the two years (ranging from 0.1 to 6.6 percentage points), including 7 local authorities (4.7%) which saw an increase of at least 5 percentage points.

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics.

National statistics

These accredited official statistics have been independently reviewed by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). They comply with the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Accredited official statistics are called National Statistics in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

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Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Early years foundation stage profile results statistics and data:

Early Years Statistics Team

Email: earlyyears.statistics@education.gov.uk
Contact name: Louis Erritt

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