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Early Years Foundation Stage Attainment

Introduction

Local strategies for improving attainment at Foundation stage in Reading schools have been successful, especially for children eligible for free school meals and those from certain targeted ethnic groups, with overall results now better than the national average. However, attainment data should continue to be carefully monitored and scrutinised to ensure that improvements can be sustained in the future. Foundation Stage attainment in Reading appears to be more equitably distributed than elsewhere, with gaps in attainment between target groups smaller than the national average.

What do we know?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets out the key areas of learning and expected development for children from birth to age five. A summary of a child's development, called the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP), comprising an assessment of attainment against key early learning milestones and a narrative about the child's learning, is completed at the end of the academic year after the child turns five. Assessments are based on practitioners' observations of the child's spontaneous and independent activity and play. The profile also provides aggregate information about children's attainment that can be compared across different areas. This is important because children from poorer backgrounds are more at risk of poorer development at an early stage in life (Public Health Outcomes Framework, Indicator 1.021 - School Readiness, definition and supporting information; GOV.UK; Department for Education, 2014).

Facts, Figures, Trends

The chart below (Figure 1) shows the improvements and percentages of children achieving a 'good level of development' between 2013 and 2015 and demonstrates improving standards during 2014 and into 2015, both in comparison to previous years and in comparison to the national average. In 2015, 67.1% of pupils achieved a good level of development at the end of reception. This was a significant increase on 2013 figures, but the level of improvement was at a slower pace than the overall national picture. As a result, Reading's figures were better than the national average in 2014, but are now similar to the national average of 66.3%. These data suggest that local strategies implemented in 2014 have been successful and will need to be continually monitored to see if the recent improvements continue to be sustained over time.

Figure 1: Good Level of Development (GLD), Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, 2013-2015

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Source: Public Health Outcomes Framework

This pattern of local improvements implemented in 2014 and sustained into 2015 is replicated across the full range of indicators used to demonstrate attainment. Although overall attainment was better in Reading than the national average, some areas remain or fell slightly below national average. Table 1, below, shows attainment in Reading for the last three years (2013-2015) against all indicators and in comparison to the national average. Where some areas are consistently below the national average, more information may be needed to understand why schools in Reading have not achieved similar levels to other areas, including comparison with areas with similar levels of deprivation.

Table 1: EYFSP Attainment

EYFSP Attainment
EYFSP Attainment

Source: Education Performance Indicators, Reading Borough Council.

To ensure that improvements in GLD are equitable, attainment is also analysed against gender, pupil premium (children who receive free school meals - a proxy for economic disadvantage), special educational need (SEN) and ethnicity. Table 2 shows the percentage of children in Reading achieving GLD for the last three years (2013-2015) who fall into these categories and the gap between them and the rest of the population in comparison to the national average.

Table 2: GLD by gender, pupil premium, special educational needs and ethnicity

GLD by gender, pupil premium, special educational needs and ethnicity
GLD by gender, pupil premium, special educational needs and ethnicity

Source: Education Performance Indicators, Reading Borough Council.

In Reading, as elsewhere, although there was an improvement for both boys and girls, the gap in attainment between genders persists: 74.4% of girls achieved a good level of development compared to 60% of boys. The gap is similar in Reading to the national average.

53.8% of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) in Reading achieved a good level of development in 2015. This is slightly higher than 2014 figures and is similar to the national average of 51%. The gap between FSM pupils and non-FSM children was 15.9% points in Reading compared to 18% points nationally.

23.4% of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) achieved GLD in Reading, compared with 21% nationally. The gap in attainment between children with SEN and no SEN was also very similar to the national average.

The Department for Education carried out an analysis of attainment at all stages of education in 2010 and identified certain ethnic groups that performed worse than average (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2010). These groups have been combined and used as a proxy for analysing attainment amongst children who may be culturally and socially disadvantaged in relation to their ethnic heritage. In Reading, 65% of this group achieved GLD, compared to 60% nationally. The gap between those in the group and those who were not was less than the national average - 2.3% compared to 4.1% - suggesting that those ethnic groups are much closer to the average level of attainment than elsewhere in England.

In all cases the gap between those with the characteristics analysed and the rest of the population did not vary as greatly as nationally, suggesting that the resources to support attainment in Reading may be more equitably available than elsewhere.

National & Local Strategies

Reading Borough Council's Early Help Strategy for 2013-2016 placed an emphasis on improving the attainment of children eligible for free school meals and certain BME groups (Reading Borough Council, 2013) and strategies have been put in place to ensure that: schools with lower levels of attainment are able to learn from local best practice; children's centres are able to offer a standard programme to support readiness for school; and Foundation Stage teachers have access to additional relevant training, including understanding the impact of social differences on access to economic, educational and environmental resources, and methods to address language delay.

The 2012 Health and Social Care Act transfers responsibility for commissioning public health services for children and young people, particularly the Healthy Child Programme framework, to Local Authorities. While some elements of the framework, such as health visiting and school nursing, clearly require specialist, clinical knowledge and expertise, the programme encourages and supports integrated delivery between health and other Local Authority provision, including Children's Centres and education settings. This could include joint assessments that take a holistic view of the child incorporating health protection (vaccinations, dental health, and healthy weight), emotional and physical development and readiness for learning and school (Public Health England, 2016)

What is this telling us?

Local strategies for improving EYFS attainment in Reading schools have been successful, especially for children eligible for free school meals and those from certain targeted ethnic groups, but results should be monitored to ensure that improvements are sustained in the future and any underperformance investigated so that underlying issues can be understood. Foundation Stage attainment in Reading appears to be more equitably distributed than elsewhere, with gaps in attainment between target groups smaller than the national average.

Future commissioning of the Healthy Child Programme by the Local Authority may present opportunities for improved integration between health and early years education settings.

This section links to the following sections in the JSNA:

Children & Young People

References

Department for Education, 2015. Early Years Foundation Stage Profile - additional tables by pupil characteristics.

Department for Education, 2014. Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage: setting the standards for learning development and care for children from birth to five. Department for Education, London. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/596629/EYFS_STATUTORY_FRAMEWORK_2017.pdf [Accessed 16th May 2015].

Department for Children, Schools and Families (2010). Breaking the link between disadvantage and low achievement in the early years: everyone's business. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/http://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/00207-2010BKT-EN.pdf [Accessed 16th May 2015].

GOV.UK. Early Years Foundation Stage. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/early-years-foundation-stage [Accessed 16th May 2015].

Public Health England, 2016. Best start in life and beyond: improving public health outcomes for children, young people and families. PHE, London. (Developed in association with SOLACE, Association of the Directors of Public Health and the Local Government Association).

Public Health England. Public Health Outcomes Framework. Available at: http://www.phoutcomes.info/public-health-outcomes-framework#page/0/gid/1000041/pat/6/par/E12000003/ati/102/are/E06000013/iid/90631/age/34/sex/4 [Accessed 16th May 2016].

Reading Borough Council, 2013. Reading's Early Help Strategy. Available at: http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/2884/Early-Help-Strategy/pdf/Readings_EHS_Final.pdf [Accessed 16th May 2015]

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