Academic Year 2021/22

Early years foundation stage profile results

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See all updates (2) for Academic Year 2021/22
  1. Gender breakdown added to local authority data in '2 Early learning goals and areas of learning by characteristics'. Updated footnote defining term of birth to be consistent with data.

  2. Corrected data for London region in underlying data file '2 Early learning goals and areas of learning by characteristics'.

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 first 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 assessment outcomes with earlier years. It is also the first release since the publication of the 2018/19 statistics, as the 2019/20 and 2020/21 data collections were cancelled due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

These statistics cover the following at national and subnational level, including breakdowns by child characteristics:

  • the percentage of children assessed to be at the ‘emerging’ or ‘expected’ level in the 17 ELGs across the 7 areas of learning.
  • the percentage of children with a good level of development. Specifically, they are at the expected level in the 12 ELGs within the 5 areas of learning relating to: communication and language; personal, social and emotional development; physical development; literacy; and mathematics.
  • the average number of ELGs for which children are at the expected level.

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 facts and figures - 2021/22

  • A higher percentage of girls than boys were at the expected level of development across all early learning goals (ELGs) and areas of learning.
  • The physical development area of learning had the highest percentage of children at the expected level of development (85%), and the literacy area of learning had the lowest (68%).
  • Of the regions, Outer London had the highest percentage of children with a good level of development (68%) whilst the North West had the lowest (62%).

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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. The EYFS profile has a stronger emphasis on the 3 prime areas, which 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 learningEarly 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 

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

  • revisions to strengthen 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 assessment outcomes with earlier years.

Additionally, users should consider that it may take time for teachers and schools to adjust to using the new statutory framework and EYFS profile and for outcomes to stabilise. 

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Disruption to early years provision and the limiting of social contact with peers during the pandemic is likely to have affected EYFS assessment outcomes; decreases have been seen between 2018/19 and 2021/22 in attainment for the phonics screening check, key stage 1 national curriculum assessments, and key stage 2 national curriculum assessments.

However, it is not possible to ascertain the scale of the impact of COVID-19 on the development of children at the end of the EYFS from the 2021/22 EYFS statistics alone, as the EYFS profile was revised in September 2021. Other circumstances may also have influenced the development of this cohort. For example, the percentage of children eligible for free school meals at the end of the EYFS rose from 14% in 2018/19 to 18% in 2021/22. 

Headline measures

In 2021/22, 65% of children had a good level of development and 63% of children were at the expected level for all 17 early learning goals. 67% were at the expected level for all early learning goals in both the communication and language area of learning and the literacy area of learning.

On average, children were at the expected level in 14.1 out of the 17 early learning goals. This measure replaces the previous average point score measure to reflect the removal of the ‘exceeding’ assessment rating and to improve clarity. More information on this change can be found on the methodology page.

Whilst 2021/22 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.

Early learning goals

The area of learning with the highest percentage of children at the expected level was physical development, whilst literacy was the lowest.

The early learning goal (ELG) with the highest percentage of children at the expected level was gross motor skills, whilst writing was the lowest. 

Good level of development by child characteristics

Over 7 in 10 girls had a good level of development compared to fewer than 6 in 10 boys. 

A higher percentage of autumn-born children had a good level of development than summer-born children, and a higher percentage of children not known to be eligible for free school meals had a good level of development than children eligible to receive them. For both characteristics, the difference was almost 20 percentage points.

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. 

Figure 4: Differences in good level of development by child characteristics, 2021/22
Percentage 
of children 
with a 
good level of
development
GenderGirls71.9%
Boys58.7%
Difference (percentage point)13.2pp
First languageKnown or believed to be English67.1%
Known or believed to be other than English60.1%
Difference (percentage point)7.0pp
Free school meal eligibilityNot known to be eligible for free school meals68.8%
Known to be eligible for free school meals49.1%
Difference (percentage point)19.6pp
Term of birthAutumn-born73.8%
Summer-born55.7%
Difference (percentage point)18.2pp

Footnotes

  1. All percentage point differences were calculated using unrounded figures.

Source: Early years foundation stage profile, school census and early years census data

Ethnicity

Over 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. 

Special educational needs (SEN)

An education, health and care (EHC) plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through SEN support provided by the school/provider.

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%). 

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). As shown in the figure below, the percentage of children with a good level of development is higher for children who live in less deprived areas, and lower for children who live in more deprived areas. Overall, there is a difference of 20 percentage points between the children who live in the 10% most and 10% least deprived areas.

Good level of development by region and local authority

There is variation in outcomes between different areas. Of the regions, Outer London had the highest percentage of children with a good level of development whilst the North West had the lowest.

18 local authorities (LAs) had over 7 in 10 children with a good level of development (12% of LAs) whilst 10 LAs had fewer than 6 in 10 children with a good level of development (7% of LAs).

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Methodology

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

National statistics

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Designation signifying their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Once designated as National Statistics it's a statutory requirement for statistics to follow and comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics to be observed.

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

Ask questions and provide feedback

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

Telephone: Kathryn Walters
0370 000 2288

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