27 Sep, 2015

Teaching and play in the early years a balancing act?

Ofsted | July 2015 | Age Group 0-5

A good practice survey to explore perceptions of teaching and play in the early years

Executive summary

Research has never been clearer – a child’s early education lasts a lifetime.

Securing a successful start for our youngest children, and particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is crucial. It can mean the difference between gaining seven Bs at GCSE compared with seven Cs and is estimated to be worth £27,000 more in an individual’s salary over the course of their career.[1] Such rich rewards are by no means guaranteed. When the first five years of a child’s life pass by so quickly, achieving the highest quality of learning and development is critical.

For too many children, the foundations for a successful start to their education are weak. In 2014, around two fifths of children did not have the essential skills needed to reach a good level of development by the age of five. Worryingly, in our most deprived communities, the outcomes were much worse. Less than half of all disadvantaged[2] childrenhad the skills needed to secure a positive start to school; around one quarter still struggled to speak, listen or interact socially to support better learning overall. The 19 percentage point gap between disadvantaged children and their better-off counterparts has remained unacceptably wide for too long.[3]

[1] Students’ educational and developmental outcomes at age 16, Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE 3-16) Project, Department for Education, September 2014.

[2] Throughout this report, ‘disadvantaged’ refers to two-year-old children who are receiving funded places in registered early years provision and those in receipt of the pupil premium funding in schools.

[3] Statistical first release: Early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP) assessments, by pupil characteristics in England, for academic year 2013 to 2014, Department for Education, November 2014; www.gov.uk/government/statistics/eyfsp-attainment-by-pupil-characteristics-2013-to-2014.