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Girls are continuing to outperform boys by the end of reception year, according to the Department of Education’s analysis of this year’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) profile results.
However the key findings, which cover England only, do show that the gap between girls and boys is narrowing, as too is the gap between the most disadvantaged children and their peers, but only by a small margin.
The results showed that some 66.3 per cent of children achieved a good level of development, up nearly six percentage points from last year, and also that the gender gap has decreased slightly from 16.3 percentage points to 15.6 percentage points.
Nearly all local authorities improved on last year’s performance, and the variation between the top and bottom performing local authority is narrowing.
The chief executive of the National Day Nursery Association (NDNA) Purnima Tanuku said: “These latest results show the great work that our sector is achieving, despite all the challenges they are facing with regards to funding shortfalls and difficulties with recruitment.
“The gap between the least and most advantaged children is slowly narrowing, but more needs to be done to improve this situation. These results show the importance of sufficient funding for nursery places for eligible two-year-olds, which must be of high quality to make a difference to their life chances.
“With the impending doubling of funded childcare hours for three- and four-year-olds, this documented progress must not be stalled by limits on funding reducing the quality of the early years education being received in private, voluntary and independent nurseries.”
Agreeing with the NDNA , Pre-school Learning Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch added: “At a time when so much focus is on the delivery of ‘childcare’, these results are a timely reminder of the importance of early education, and the provision of quality learning opportunities that support young children.
“They are also a reminder of the value of the EYFS Profile as an essential tool to track early progress across all areas of development. The Alliance continues to urge government to reinstate the EYFS Profile’s statutory status and to support the ‘Better without Baseline’ campaign against the ill-thought-out, unhelpful and potentially harmful baseline assessment.”
It’s a view supported by Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) chief executive Liz Bayram, who said: “The results also demonstrate the important of the EYFS Profile as a vital tool to assess children’s physical, social and emotional development as well as educational attainment. PACEY continues to support the campaign 'Better without Baseline', which is calling for baseline assessments to be scrapped and the retention of the EYFS Profile.”