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10 key facts about the two-year-old progress check

The new progress check for two-year-olds is something early years practitioners will need to focus on in the coming months. Linda Thornton and Pat Brunton answer some commonly raised questions about the check

1. The progress check at two years is a statutory requirement

In September 2012, the revised framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) became statutory for providers of early education and childcare in England. One of the major changes to the framework was the introduction of a progress check at the age of two. This check aims to give a clear, all-round picture of the child.

2. The check should inform parents and carers of their child’s progress

The EYFS requires that parents and carers must be provided with a short written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas of learning and development in the EYFS: Physical development, Communication and language, and Personal, social and emotional development. Practitioners should decide what the written summary should include in addition to the prime areas, reflecting the development level and needs of the individual child. The summary must identify the child’s strengths and any areas where the child’s progress is less than expected.

3. The check should enable earlier identification of development needs

If significant concerns emerge from the progress check, or any special needs or disability have been identified, the information should be used to ensure that any necessary additional support can be put in place as early as possible. Practitioners should use the results of the check to develop a targeted plan to support the child’s future learning and development, including other professionals where appropriate.

4. A set of principles guide the check

The progress check should provide a clear and holistic picture of the child based on several key principles:

  • practitioners’ knowledge of the child
  • continuing assessment information gathered over time
  • observations based on what the child can do consistently and independently
  • children’s participation in their own learning and development
  • the views of other practitioners and professionals who know the child well
  • the views and information gathered from parents.

5. There is no set format for the progress check

The EYFS framework does not require the progress check to be completed in a prescribed or standard format. A ‘know how’ guide is available, which provides information to support practitioners in carrying out the progress check and gives examples of current good practice in providing information to parents.

6. The check is conducted by someone familiar with the child

The check should be completed by a practitioner who knows the child well and works directly with the child in the setting. This should normally be the child’s key person. The person completing the check will be responsible for completing the progress check report for the child’s parents. Any concerns about a child’s progress should be discussed with the leader or manager of the setting prior to the report being finalised.

7. The timing of the check should be appropriate

The progress check should be carried out when a child is aged between two and three years. Several factors may determine the timing of the check, including:

  • the child’s entry point to the setting
  • individual children’s and families’ needs
  • parental preferences
  • the child’s pattern of attendance.

If a child moves settings between the ages of two and three, it is expected that the progress check will be carried out in the setting where the child has spent the most time. This would also apply to the check for children who attend more than one setting.

8. Parents and carers are involved in the progress check

The starting point for the two-year-old progress check should be an acknowledgement that parents are their child’s prime educators and know their child best. This approach should underpin the work of the setting and, in particular, the progress check. Continual sharing of two-way observations will lead to improvements in social, emotional and cognitive outcomes for children. Shared learning and development opportunities in the setting and in the home environment will help to move the child forward and support parents in extending their child’s learning at home.

9. The voice of the child must be heard in the progress check

The voice of the child must be listened to when carrying out the progress check. Children enjoy, and can be good at, thinking about and assessing their own learning from a very young age. They can play a part in assessing their progress, identifying what they have enjoyed doing and what they have found difficult. Skilful practitioners will understand the many ways in which young children express themselves, such as gesture, stance, posture and signing, as well as in words.

10. Share the check with other professionals

The progress check should take into account other practitioners and, where relevant, other professionals working with the child to gain a full picture of the child’s learning and development.

The timing of the check should be discussed and agreed with parents in time to inform the Healthy Child Programme health and development review whenever possible. Health visitors are then expected to take account of information from the progress check to ensure that they can identify children’s needs accurately and fully at the health review.

Providers must have the consent of parents or carers to share information from the progress check with other relevant professionals.

Author details

Linda has over 40 years' experience in education as a teacher, headteacher, adviser and lead officer for early years for a local authority. She is passionate about developing children’s thinking and learning, valuing creative learning...

Pat’s background as a research scientist has led to her interest in the idea of babies and young children as researchers, and to recognising the value of involving families in their children’s learning. She has extensive experience of the early...