following has been extracted from the QCA document "Early Learning Goals"
Early childhood is a crucial
stage of life in terms of children's physical, intellectual, emotional
and social development and of their well being. Growth is both rapid and
differential. A significantly high proportion of learning takes place from
birth to age six. It is a time when children particularly need high quality
care and learning experiences.
The aim of the Government's
early years policy is to provide a comprehensive range of services for
young children. This includes integrated early years education and childcare
provision which will make a positive contribution to children's early development,
enabling them to build on this foundation throughout their lives, so providing
a sound basis for lifelong learning. High quality care and education for
young children will give parents peace of mind and help them to balance
their work and family lives.
Education begins in the home
and continues there and in a range of settings. Through initiatives such
as Sure Start and Early Excellence Centres, the Government is pioneering
ways to improve support for families and children before and from birth.
The aim is to work with parents and children to promote the development
of pre-school children - particularly those who are disadvantaged - to
ensure that they are ready to thrive when they get to school.
Since September 1998, a free,
part-time early years education place has been made available for all four
year old children whose parents want one. The proportion of three-year-olds
with a free, part-time early years education place
is planned to rise from
the present one-third to two-thirds by 2002. These places are in a variety
of settings. Most children transfer to the reception year in a primary
school during the year in which they reach compulsory school age, the term
after their fifth birthday.
The period from age three
to the end of the reception year is described as the foundation stage.
It is a distinct stage and important both in its own right and in preparing
children for later schooling. The early learning goals set out what
is expected for most children
by the end of the foundation stage.
for early years education
Effective education requires
both a relevant curriculum and practitioners who understand and are able
to implement the curriculum requirements. Children develop rapidly during
the early years physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. They
are entitled to provision which supports and extends knowledge, understanding,
skills and confidence, and helps them to overcome any disadvantage.
Early years experience should
build on what children already know and can do. It should also encourage
a positive attitude and disposition to learn and aim to give protection
from early failure.
No child should be excluded
or disadvantaged because of his or her race, culture or religion, home
language, family background, special educational needs, disability, gender
To be effective, an early
years curriculum needs to be carefully structured. In that structure, there
should be three strands: provision for the different starting points from
which children develop their learning, building on what they can already
do; relevant and appropriate content which matches the different levels
of young children's needs; and planned and purposeful activity which provides
opportunities for teaching and learning both indoors and outdoors.
A well planned and well organised
environment gives children rich and stimulating experiences. It provides
the structure for teaching within which children explore, experiment, plan
and make decisions for themselves, thus enabling them to learn, develop
and make good progress. There should be opportunities for children to engage
in activities planned by adults, and also those which they plan or initiate
themselves. Children learn through play and in other ways. They do not
make a distinction between 'play' and 'work', and neither should practitioners.
Children need time to become engrossed, work in depth and complete activities.
Practitioners must be able
to observe and respond appropriately to children, informed by a knowledge
of how children develop and learn.
Well planned, purposeful
activity and appropriate intervention by practitioners will engage children
in the learning process, and help them make progress in their learning.
Practitioners need to ensure
that all children feel included, secure and valued. They must build positive
relationships with parents in order to work effectively with them and their
Children, parents and practitioners
must work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Above all, high quality care
and education by practitioners will lead to effective learning and development
for young children