England & Wales

Tickell Review – The Early Years: Foundations for life, health and learning


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The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) was introduced in 2008 to provide a framework for consistent and high quality environments for all children in pre-school settings. A review was promised at the time, and Dame Clare Tickell (Chief Executive of Action for Children) was invited last summer by the government to conduct an independent review that was evidence-led, built on what works well and improved those areas where there are problems.

The Tickell Review appears to have been warmly received within the sector, where there has been a welcome both for her recognition of the success of the EYFS and her ‘common sense’ proposals for slimming it down, reducing its bureaucratic burdens and making it more accessible to parents whilst retaining its core purpose.

There is, however, significant concern about the potential impact of spending cuts on the early years sector – an issue acknowledged by the review.

The Government’s press notice highlights the review’s main recommendations, without directly commenting on them. Children’s Minister Sarah Teather emphasised the importance of the early years, and having the right framework to support high quality early years education; she expressed pleasure at the focus on the foundations for getting the best out of school, and the response to concerns about the level of paperwork; and she said, “I am hugely grateful to Clare and look forward to reading her review in detail”.

This does not appear to indicate huge enthusiasm for the full range of recommendations. We shall have to wait until the consultation in the summer to see the Government’s response, and which changes it proposes to take forward.

It will be a significant test of its intention to make a reality of its rhetorical commitment to the importance of the early years, and to improving outcomes for disadvantaged groups in particular.

This post is based on a LGiU members briefing written by Martin Rogers. Briefings are available through individual subscriptions and accessible to all officers and elected members of our member authorities. For more information on joining the Local Government Information Unit please follow this link.