Early Childhood Forum

ECF - at the heart of Early Years from birth to 7 years
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If you would like to contact ECF please email your enquiry to: earlychildhoodforum@yahoo.co.uk


The Early Childhood Forum (ECF), brings together national organisations and professional associations in the early childhood sector for all young children from birth to seven. ECF exists to promote inclusion, challenge inequalities, debate issues, celebrate differences and develop consensus to champion high quality experiences for young children and their families.

News & Events

How little is enough?


Provision for Outdoor Play in the EYFS
State of the Nation Report

Our Report just released with national charity Learning through Landscapes, suggests that many nurseries, schools and playgroups are struggling with inadequate outdoor space or in some cases have no outside space at all. The report calls for the Government and Ofsted to affirm and strengthen the statutory requirement for children in the EYFS. The report further calls for the Government and Ofsted to provide better guidelines for preschools, schools and nurseries, and to information for parents about what they should expect for their children.

Nearly 400 early years providers from the Early Years Sector responded to the survey initiated by the Early Childhood Forum and the national charity Learning through Landscapes.

The report is a strong call from the Early Years field for more staff training in this area and for help for teachers and childcare workers to engage with parents about the importance of outdoor play for young children’s development. Juno Hollyhock, Chief Executive of Learning through Landscapes said:
“There is plenty of well-documented research about the benefits of play and learning outdoors for young children, including their physical development, which is an area of current concern for public health in the UK. So why are so many children in Early Years settings still not getting enough outdoor time?”

The survey found continued strong support for outdoor play and learning in the early years, with many settings making improvements in their outdoor provision over recent years. But there is also clearly a wide variation in what children are offered in terms of daily outdoor experiences as part of their core early education provision.

Of key concern is that the planned Government expansion of free childcare for working parents over the next few years might also have a further negative impact on the space available for outdoor provision.

Melian Mansfield, chair of ECF said, “We are keen to work with the Government and with Ofsted to ensure that outdoor play and learning is high on the agenda, and that the guidance is clear – particularly as childcare services are expanded. There is strong evidence that time spent learning and playing outdoors in the early years can help prevent obesity, help with mental health and even address rising myopia in early childhood. There is historically a good understanding of the importance of learning outdoors in the UK , which has led with examples of excellent early years practice outdoors in the UK and internationally – but, as this report shows, it is far from being available to all young children here.”

Media Contacts
About the Survey, contact: Annie Davy (report author, ECF) Annie.davy13@gmail.com Tel: 07966 499 830
For LtL contact Juno Hollyhock, CEO jhollyhock@ltl.org.uk Tel 01962 846 258

Download: EYFS_Outdoors_Final_Report.pdf

Sense - Making the Case for Play Report


The new report from SENSE reveals the severe restrictions facing disabled children in accessing play, and identifies failings at every level that result in disabled children missing out on opportunities essential to their emotional, social, and physical development. A lack of attention by government, insufficient funding at a local level, and a negative attitudes towards disabled children and their families, are all barriers highlighted in the report.

The report calls for urgent action to address these inequalities and to support the Prime Minister in delivering on his recent call to improve the life chances of all children. Please follow the link for the full report:

Download: Sense_-_Making_the_Case_for_Play_-_Full_Report.pdf

HMG's Life Chances Strategy Inquiry

The Early Childhood Studies Degree Network states that there is substantial empirical evidence and numerous Parliamentary reports that recognise the importance of what happens in early childhood and the impact on life chances (APPG, Fit and Healthy Childhoods, 2015). The ECSDN strongly urges the government committee to use the Life Chances Strategy Inquiry, not just to add to this wealth of evidence, but to ensure that action is taken to actually support systemic transformation that will enhance the life chances of our youngest generation now and in the future.

Full text from ECSDN available at:

Download: ECSDN_Response_to_Life_Chances_Inquiry_Final.docx

Austerity Cuts to Children's Centres

Research led by Prof. Pamela Sammons from Oxford University's Deprtment of Education clearly indicates that whilst disadvantaged families benefit most from their use of Children's Centres, austerity cuts to service will be doubly harmful.

The ECCE study looked at 2600 families attending 117 phase 1 and phase 2 childrens' centres over a six year period.

ECF Early Childhood Forum