Methodology

Early years foundation stage profile results

Published

Background

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.

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.

The assessment scales and exemptions

Children are assessed against the 17 early learning goals as either being at the ‘emerging’ or the ‘expected’ level at the end of the EYFS.

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.

For more detailed information see the EYFS Profile handbook.

National Statistics badging

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in July 2012, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics. 

Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

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

Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed. 

The Department has a set of statistical policies in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Data collection

The source of data for this publication is the early years foundation stage (EYFS) profile collection, an annual statutory child-level collection from all local authorities in England, which runs from the beginning of June to the end of July. The 2021/22 data collection was the first since 2018/19, as the 2019/20 and 2020/21 collections were cancelled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Local authorities (LAs) are required to collect and report to the Department for Education (DfE) teacher assessments for:

  • all children at the end of the EYFS in state-funded schools and maintained nursery schools
  • children in private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers, including childminders, where the child’s early years provision is still government-funded at the end of the EYFS (the funding for a child in a PVI provider ceases in the term following the child's 5th birthday, so in practice this includes only children born in the summer term)

This publication therefore covers all schools and early years providers with children registered for government-funded early years provision at the end of the EYFS.

Schools and early years providers submit data to their local authority who then load the data into the DfE bespoke data collection system: COLLECT (Collections On-Line for Learning, Education, Children and Teachers). 

The system is stored securely on DfE servers and is accessed by local authorities via the internet, with each local authority given secure log in details.

COLLECT has built-in validation rules which identify invalid data or where the quality is questionable. This allows local authorities to identify errors and clean the data before they submit it to the DfE. Validation rules can either be errors (data is invalid) or queries (data quality is questionable but could be accurate in certain circumstances). 

Local authorities are encouraged to clean all errors and double-check data where queries are flagged. Notes can be added to their return if there is a genuine reason for unusual data.

Further information on the data items collected in the EYFS profile return can be found in the collection guide. This and other documents useful for the completion of the return can be found on the DfE collection website.

Data processing

Production of this statistics publication

Once the department has received all data from local authorities through the early years foundation stage (EYFS) profile collection, it is matched into the national pupil database (NPD). The NPD is a longitudinal database linking assessment outcomes and census data. This means school census and early years census data can be used to produce breakdowns of EYFS profile outcomes by child characteristics. The NPD also excludes shielded children, children with parents in the armed forces who are being educated abroad, and duplicate records.

Calculated data items 

Average number of early learning goals (ELGs) at expected level per child

This is 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. This measure replaces the average point score measure from previous years.

Number and percentage of children at expected level in all ELGs

This is a count and percentage of children who were at the expected level for all 17 ELGs.

Number and percentage of children at expected level in all Communication and language and Literacy ELGs

This is a count and percentage of children who were at the expected level for the ELGs in the communication and language area of learning and the ELGs in the literacy area of learning.

Number and percentage of children having a good level of development

This is a count and percentage of children who were at the expected level for all 12 ELGs within the 5 areas of learning relating to: communication and language; personal, social and emotional development; physical development; literacy; and mathematics.

Number and percentage at emerging level in early learning goal or area of learning

This is a count and percentage of children who were at the emerging level for a specific ELG or area of learning.

Number and percentage at expected level in early learning goal or area of learning

This is a count and percentage of children who were at the expected level for a specific ELG or area of learning.

Child characteristics

Gender

The gender of the child is recorded as male or female in the school census or early years census. The advice from the department is to record the gender according to the wishes of the parent and/or pupil in the school census and the parent (or guardian) in the early years census.

Ethnicity

The school census records the ethnicity as stated by the parent, guardian or pupil and the early years census records the ethnicity as stated by the parent or guardian. 

The setting must not ascribe any ethnicity to the child. The information must come from the parent/guardian/pupil. Where the ethnicity had not yet been collected, ‘NOBT’ (information not yet obtained) was recorded. If a parent/guardian/pupil refused to provide ethnicity, ‘REFU’ (refused) was recorded. These categories combined are shown as ‘unclassified’ within the underlying data tables.

Where a child’s ethnicity was not recorded in the school census, the ethnicity recorded in the early years census for that child was used. If a child’s ethnicity was not recorded in either the school census or the early years census, then that child’s ethnicity is shown as ‘unclassified’.

First language

The school must not ascribe a specific language to the pupil. This information must come from the parent, guardian or pupil.

A pupil’s first language is other than English where the pupil has been exposed to a language other than English during early development and continues to be exposed to this language in the home or in the community. 

The codes ENB (not known but believed to be English) and OTB (not known but believed to be other than English) should be used where:

  • pupil’s first language is not known with absolute certainty
  • parents have not responded to enquiries
  • school can judge with a high degree of confidence whether the pupil’s language is English or not

Where a parent, guardian or pupil declined to provide a first language, and where it was not possible to make a judgement as to whether ENB or OTB should be used, the child’s first language is shown as ‘unclassified’ within the underlying data tables.

First language is not collected in the early years census, so children who did not appear in the school census have their first language shown as ‘unclassified’ within the underlying data tables.

Free school meals eligibility

Free school meal (FSM) eligibility is collected in the school census and states whether a child's family have claimed eligibility for free school meals. Parents are able to claim free school meals if they receive a qualifying benefit.

From September 2014 all infant pupils in state-funded schools have been entitled to a free school meal. The FSM eligibility variable does not relate to children who actually received free school meals but those children who were eligible to receive free school meals. 

Free school meals are only provided in state-funded schools, so FSM eligibility is collected in the school census but not in the early years census. 

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.

Term of birth

Children born in the autumn term may have attended early years provision for a longer period of time before they reach the end of the EYFS than pupils born at other times of the year. Therefore, EYFS profile outcomes are broken down by term of birth.

Term of birth for each child has been classified as below: 

Autumn-born = September, October, November, or December 

Spring-born = January, February, or March

Summer-born = April, May, June, July, or 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.

In 2022/23, the standard dates of birth for the EYFS academic year ran from 1st September 2017 to 31st August 2018. Children born outside of the standard reported academic year have been classified as the lower or upper grouping. This means a child born on 31st August 2017 or before will be classified as autumn-born and a child born 1st September 2018 or after will be classified as summer-born.

Special educational needs (SEN) provision

Children with SEN are classified as follows:

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.

The type of SEN provision a child receives is collected on both the school and early years censuses. If a child was recorded by a school as not on roll at the time of the spring school census and was not in the early years census, or was not in either census at all, that child is categorised as having ‘unclassified’ SEN provision.

It should be noted that children who had ‘unclassified’ SEN provision for either of the reasons above cannot have been eligible for free school meals.

SEN primary need

A child with SEN’s primary need is the child’s most significant special educational need. This is collected through the school census, but not the early years census, so the sum of children broken down by primary need may not match the total number of children receiving SEN provision.

Income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI) decile

IDACI is a supplementary index of the English indices of deprivation 2019. Each lower-layer super output area (LSOA), or neighbourhood, is given a score showing the percentage of pupils aged under 16 that live in income deprived households. These neighbourhoods are grouped into deciles so that the 10% of neighbourhoods with the highest scores (that is, with the most deprived children) make up decile 1, and the 10% of neighbourhoods with the lowest scores (that is, with the fewest deprived children) make up decile 10.

Breakdowns by IDACI decile are based on matching the child’s home postcode to the February extract of the National Statistics Postcode Lookup (NSPL), and the English indices of deprivation 2019.

Geography

Breakdowns by local authority district in underlying data files 1 and 2 are based on matching the postcode of the school or provider to the February extract of the National Statistics Postcode Lookup (NSPL). A small number of schools and providers could not be matched to a local authority district. The assessment outcomes of the children attending these settings (0.1% of all children in 2021/22 and 2022/23) are shown in the 'Outside England and unknown' category.

Breakdowns by local authority district in underlying data file 4 are based on matching the child’s home postcode to the February extract of the National Statistics Postcode Lookup (NSPL). A small number of children could not be matched to a local authority district. The assessment outcomes of these children (0.2% of all children in 2021/22 and 2022/23) are shown in the 'Outside England and unknown' category.

Rounding and suppression

Percentages and averages have been rounded to one decimal place. As a result of rounding, the sum of the percentage of children at the emerging level and the percentage of children at the expected level may not equal 100% in file 2. 

Suppression has not been applied to the underlying data. 

Symbology

The following symbols have been applied in the underlying data files: 

     z      data not applicable      

     u      low reliability

     b      break in time series 

Where any number is shown as zero, the original figure submitted was zero.  

Data quality

These statistics include results for only those children who were registered for government-funded early years provision at the end of the EYFS. Children who are not registered for government-funded early years provision at the end of the EYFS are not in the scope of the Department’s EYFS profile data collection and therefore not included in the results. 

The results are for government-funded children who were assessed at the end of the academic year. Children in state-funded schools who have been held back will be included in the results for the year in which they were assessed and so these statistics may include results from some children outside of the usual EYFS age range.

In 2022/23, returns were received from 99.9% of expected schools and early years providers (up from 99.7% in 2021/22). There were 15 settings with data still outstanding at the end of the data collection (down from 47 in 2021/22).

Ordinarily the EYFS profile must be completed in the final term of the academic year in which the child reaches the age of five unless an exemption has been granted (see section ‘The assessment scales and exemptions’ above).

The following records are excluded from the statistics:

  • children with an ‘A’ (exemption) recorded against any area or goal in their EYFS profile
  • children of parents in the armed forces in overseas schools
  • shielded children
  • duplicate records

620,929 records were returned in the 2022/23 EYFS profile data collection. 2,038 records (0.3%) were excluded from the statistics for one or more of the above reasons, down from 4,904 records (0.8%) in 2021/22.

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.

Data quality issues for specific local authorities and years

2021/22

Data was missing for two-thirds of children (or 10 children) in the Isles of Scilly in 2021/22, which was not able to be resolved before the data collection closed. Caution should be taken when interpreting the results for this local authority in this year.

Once the 2021/22 EYFS profile data collection closed, City of London local authority made the department aware that almost one-quarter of children in the local authority  had not been uploaded and were missing from the return. Caution should be taken when interpreting the results for this local authority in this year.

Sutton local authority uploaded data for a small number of children in the local authority (<1%) that included invalid assessment outcomes. These invalid values were accepted by the system due to an error with a new validation rule, which has now been fixed. However, as children must have valid assessment outcomes against all early learning goals to be included in the publication, the department has excluded these children from the published data. 

2022/23

Once the 2022/23 EYFS profile data collection closed, Merton local authority made the department aware that the assessment outcomes for a significant number of children in the local authority were recorded under the incorrect early learning goal (ELG). This affected the assessment outcomes for the areas of learning relating to personal, social and emotional development (the self-regulation, managing self, and building relationships ELGs) and physical development (the gross motor skills and fine motor skills ELGs). Therefore, Merton’s results for the listed ELGs and areas of learning have been suppressed (i.e. replaced with ‘u’ which indicates low reliability) and removed from national and regional totals in underlying data file 2. All other measures and files remain unaffected.

Southend local authority uploaded data for a small number of children in the local authority (<1%) that included incorrect assessment outcomes. Caution should be taken when interpreting the results for this local authority in this year.

Brighton and Hove uploaded data which excluded 5 children (<0.3%). 

Gloucestershire uploaded data which had 1 child’s data missing for the ELG People, culture and communities (<0.1%). 

Help and support

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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