Home > Starting Well > 0-4 Years of Age > Foundation Stage Attainment

Foundation Stage Attainment

Last Modified 13/06/2017 12:55:19 Share this page


Five year old children are assessed against the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS). This framework awards points to children who demonstrate various levels of ability across 17 early learning goals. A revised EYFS was introduced in 2013, and requires practitioners to make a best fit assessment of whether children are emerging, expected or exceeding against 17 early learning goals (ELGs) (see EYFS results - methodology document, 2014 for further information on the ELGs).

Children have been deemed to have reached a good level of development (GLD) in the new profile if they achieve at least the expected level in the ELGs in the prime areas of learning (personal, social and emotional development; physical development; and communication and language) and in the specific areas of mathematics and literacy. These are 12 of the 17 ELGs.

The Early Years Foundation Stage has recently been subject to significant change1. The core emphasis of the stage remains unchanged however, which is to ensure that children and young people are assessed for their general level of development across a wide range of early expected behaviours.

There has been a range of debate on the adequacy of EYFS and whether children are 'ready' for some of the learning goals at age 0-5, especially some criticism of the levels required by the Communication, Language and Literacy, and Problem-Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy goals2. For this needs analysis however, the differences between England as a whole and Blackpool is a useful indicator as regardless of whether the scales are too rigid or too high, as these scales affect all children universally, our interest is the relative difference.

Facts and Figures

Figure 1 shows the difference in EYFS between Blackpool and England. Areas highlighted in blue indicate a higher proportion of children in Blackpool fall into the 'emerging' and 'expected' categories than England.

Areas highlighted in red indicate a lower proportion of children in Blackpool fall into the 'exceeding' category than England and the 'at least expected'.

For example, in "communication and language - understanding", Blackpool has 4 percentage points more pupils than England achieving 'expected', but 8 percentage points fewer achieving 'exceeding'.

Figure 1 - EYFS Scorecard - difference between Blackpool and National achievement at the EYFS
CategorySub-CategoryEmergingExpectedExceedingAt Least Expected
Communication and LanguageListening and attention 2 5 -6 -1
Understanding 3 4 -8 -4
Speaking 3 4 -6 -2
Physical DevelopmentMoving and handling 2 3 -5 -2
Health and self-care 1 7 -8 -1
Personal, Social and Emotional DevelopmentSelf-confidence and self-awareness -1 6 -6 0
Managing feelings and behaviour 1 5 -6 -1
Making relationships 0 5 -6 -1
LiteracyReading 4 2 -6 -4
Writing 6 0 -5 -5
MathematicsNumbers 6 0 -6 -6
Shape, space and measures 5 2 -7 -5
Understanding the WorldPeople and communities 1 5 -6 -1
The World 3 5 -8 -3
Technology -1 8 -7 1
Expressive arts, designing and makingExploring using media and materials 1 4 -4 0
Being imaginative 1 5 -6 -1

The table highlights that:

    • Children in Blackpool are proportionally more likely to be at "emerging" or "expected" stages".
    • There are proportionally fewer children 'exceeding" the EYFS compared to England overall.
    • As a result of higher 'emerging' and lower 'exceeding' pupils the net proportions of children 'at least expected' is lower.

Figure 2 ranks the differences in attainment from high to low to highlight areas where children are not working securely:

    • The biggest differences between groups working securely are writing (-12 percentage points) and calculating (-10 percentage points) with a smaller proportion of Blackpool children attaining those levels than all pupils in England.
    • Blackpool has a smaller proportion of children working 'beyond' the EYFS in both linking sounds and letters, numbers as labels and for counting. Social development and disposition also scored poorly.

Figure 2 - Percentage of pupils in the emerging (below expected) level of EYFS by learning goal


A good level of development is achieving 'expected' in the prime learning goals which form 12 of the 17 areas of learning.

    • 46% of Children in the EYFS were not working 'at a good level of development' in all 12 categories in 2014. This is the 20th highest level in England.

The early year's foundation stage data suggests several notable differences in attainment with girls outperforming boys in all categories. The gaps are largest in literacy. See figure 3 below.

Figure 3 - Attainment of at least expected level of development in EYFS by Gender



National and local strategies


[1] Foundation Years, EYFS Statutory Framework 

[2] Department for Education Practitioners' Experiences of the Early Years Foundation Stage, Research Report DFE-RR029, May 2010