How does early years policy impact on practitioners, children, settings and families? What are the implications of current policy for the future? How can early years professionals shape and craft practice in ways that genuinely focus on the needs of children and families, rather than the interests of policy makers? This exciting new text explores the changing context and increasing importance of early years policy. It takes a broad look at policy developments and shows how these have affected children, settings, parents and the early years workforce. Divided into two parts, the first examines theoretical perspectives and sets out the early years policy context, looking at issues surrounding accountability, international influences on policy and the Early Years Foundation Stage. The second half of the book directly shows how policy has influenced practice, and considers: the upskilling of the workforce and the impact of this on practitioners; the development of the learning environment including outdoor provision; sustained shared thinking and its link to high quality learning and teaching; the impact of policy on parents. Offering a fresh perspective on early years policy, this timely textbook will be essential reading for students on undergraduate and postgraduate Early Years and Childhood Studies courses and those working towards Early Years Teacher status.