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Private schools able to opt out of EYFS

Independent schools will be able to opt out of the EYFS from the end of October.

The Department for Education consulted on proposals to extend EYFS exemptions and simplify the process during May and June and has published a consultation report, response and guidance.

Independent schools that are considered of good enough quality will be able to apply for exemption from the statutory curriculum for children from birth to five, from 26 October.

This means that any independent school that meets the eligibility criteria can choose to be exempt from some or all of the learning and development requirements. Currently, early years providers can only apply to be exempt from the learning and development requirements in certain circumstances, for example if they are governed by ‘established principles’ that cannot be reconciled with the EYFS.
Some Steiner Waldorf schools, for example, have previously been granted exemptions from some aspects of the EYFS.

However, providers will continue to be required to seek the views of parents. This is particularly important because schools will need to be clear with parents that opting out of the EYFS could affect the free entitlement funding for three-and four-year-olds.

Views expressed in the consultation varied. Steiner schools said that most parents were reliant on the funding and many independent schools said that they would be unable to take up exemptions if the local authority stopped funding early education places.

Local authorities had mixed views. Eight of them said that exempted providers should not receive funding, while others felt that funding should be dependent on whether schools were partially exempt due to 'established principles' or had opted out completely.

The Government has decided that revised statutory guidance on the delivery of the free entitlement will give local authorities 'broader discretion' on whether to fund places with providers that are exempt, if there is parental demand. The DfE will monitor the impact on take-up of free early education places and keep policy on funding free places under review.

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