How the EYFSP Works

How the EYFSP works and what the levels or scores mean:

The EYFS Profile summarises and describes children’s attainment at the end of the EYFS. It is based on on-going observation and assessment in the three prime and four specific areas of learning, and the three learning characteristics, set out below:

1. The prime areas of learning:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development


2. The specific areas of learning:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design


3. The learning characteristics:

  • Playing and exploring
  • Active learning
  • Creating and thinking critically


A completed EYFS Profile consists of 20 items of information: the attainment of each child is assessed in relation to each of the 17 Early Learning Goals descriptors, (ELGs) together with a short narrative describing the child’s ways of learning expressed in terms of the three characteristics of learning. For each ELG, practitioners will judge whether a child is meeting the level of development expected at the end of the Reception Year (expected), exceeding this level (exceeding), or not yet reaching this level (emerging).

‘The EYFS Profile is not intended to be used for on-going assessment or for entry-level assessment for Early Years settings or Reception classes’.

The primary purpose of the EYFS Profile is to provide a reliable, valid and accurate assessment of individual children at the end of the EYFS.

The primary uses of EYFS Profile data which have informed the development of the Profile are as follows.

  • To inform parents about their child’s development against the ELGs and the characteristics of their learning.
  • To support a smooth transition to Key Stage 1 by informing the professional dialogue between EYFS and Key Stage 1 teachers.
  • To help Year 1 teachers plan an effective, responsive and appropriate curriculum that will meet the needs of all children.

In addition, the Department considers that a secondary purpose of the assessment is to provide an accurate national data set relating to levels of child development at the end of the EYFS which can be used to monitor changes in levels of children’s development and their readiness for the next phase of their education both nationally and locally (school-level results are not to be published in the Performance Tables).



Planning in the early years is about meeting young children’s needs so that they can play and learn happily in ways which will help them develop skills and knowledge across the  Prime and Specific areas of learning in the EYFS. Planning is different from school to school and from setting to setting because each one is different from the next for all sorts of reasons. However, some settings and schools will plan certain things in a similar way – these might be events that are planned every year such as a visit to a farm where the children will be able to see and feed the lambs and perhaps help the farmer to feed the goats. Or it may be that the setting or school has links with an orchestra that visits them regularly to work with a nursery or reception class, helping them to find out about several instruments and to listen to and join in some music-making or drama. In some ways these sorts of events provide a rhythm to the year – a pattern that is variable and flexible depending on many factors but is also fairly predictable – many people describe this as long term planning. Between long term planning and the experiences that are planned for children on a daily and weekly basis are the medium-term plans that are made to ensure that over six weeks or a half term certain areas of learning are addressed – for example focusing on particular stories to help children to think about ‘friendship’. These type of plans need to be in place so that all the necessary resources such as books and props can be gathered. However, all planning should be flexible and used as a guide rather than followed slavishly. The most important planning that is done is the short-term daily/weekly planning that arises from discussions with the children and their parents and is based around their current interests. The child whose Nana has come by train to visit for a few days will have much to talk and think about and may want to make something for ‘Nana’, just as will the child whose house is near a building site and who arrives full of excitement to talk about a huge crane she has seen on her way to school. This is the stuff of short-term planning – the fleeting but compelling interests of this child on this day.