All two-year-olds will be given a progress check under the new Early Years Foundation Stage
Toddlers will be assessed by nurseries and childminders to see if they can use basic words, respond to familiar sounds and interact properly with friends, it is revealed today. Ministers are
proposing that all parents in England will be given a written summary of their child’s progress in key areas before their third birthday.
It is claimed the assessments will flag-up children showing early signs of special needs and ensure they get more targeted help at a young age.
But critics warned that the move could lead to toddlers being wrongly “labelled” at a young age, with fears that it will fail to recognise children who develop at different rates.
The plan will be announced on Tuesday as part of a major overhaul of Labour’s controversial “nappy curriculum” for under-fives, which was first introduced in 2008.
An independent review of the so-called Early Years Foundation Stage published last year criticised the document for being \"cumbersome, repetitive and unnecessarily bureaucratic\".
The review by Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of the charity Action for Children, claimed the curriculum promoted a tick-box culture and stifles children’s early development.
Today, it will be announced that a revised framework – to be introduced from this September – will dramatically cut the number of targets children are supposed to reach by the age of five, from 69 to just 17.
It will set out a clearer focus on three main areas seen as essential for preparation for school – communication and language, physical development, and personal, social and emotional development.
The new-style framework will also cut the amount of paperwork in nurseries, including the abolition of written risk assessments for all activities.
In a further move, it will lead to the introduction of a progress check for all two-year-olds.
Ministers insist the exact form of checks should be down to nurseries and childminders.
But a draft framework published last year suggested the assessment will test their social interaction, physical movement, self-care, speaking and listening and ability to manage feelings and behaviour. It proposed marking children against certain tasks, including whether they can pull off their socks and shoes independently or “get a tissue when necessary\".
Last night, the move was criticised by academics.
Dr Richard House, senior lecturer in psychotherapy at Roehampton University, said: “The great danger is that children at a very young age will be labelled as having something wrong with them.
“The whole idea of measuring children against benchmarks – particularly at this age – is entirely inappropriate because it fails to recognise the very diverse development rates of different children.”