Early Years Foundation Stage

We love learning in Early years at Northumberland Heath Primary School and we provide our children with fun and purposeful activities to engage them in their own learning.

We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) which covers all areas of the children’s learning and development from birth to five years old. The EYFS divides the curriculum into seven areas of learning and development.

The ‘prime areas’ are:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development

The ‘specific areas’ are:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

These lead to 17 Early Learning Goals (ELG’s), which summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that children should gain by the end of the Reception Year.

As well as what children learn, the EYFS sets out how children learn; the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’. We encourage good attitudes to learning, like curiosity, willingness to ‘have a go’, determination, persistence, and concentration, in everything we do.

We are developing our thinking skills, using ‘Thinking maps’ which helps children to focus on their own thinking and application towards problem solving.

At Northumberland Heath Primary School we provide a balance between adult-led and child-initiated experiences. Children are supported in their development through play and exploration opportunities, short carpet sessions, and adult guided work. Although the curriculum remains very play based, the balance shifts gradually through the Reception year towards more activities led by adults, to help children prepare for more formal learning in Year 1.

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Literacy (reading and writing) is taught through the phonics programme following ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds’. Maths is taught through Mathematics Mastery, which builds on from children’s learning of early mathematical concepts. We are also adapting plans from National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) to develop deep and lasting understanding of mathematical concepts.

Both Nursery and Reception have the opportunity for daily outdoor learning. We have a large outdoor area, which is fully resourced for children to support their learning and independence in all areas. As part of our outside provision, we also visit forest school weekly, where children have the opportunity to develop skills through stimulating and challenging activities such as den building, which help to develop problem solving, collaboration and perseverance, along with supporting many other areas of learning and development.

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The classrooms and outdoor spaces are organised so that children can access most resources independently, take ownership of their own learning and provide opportunities for exploration. These are called ‘enabling environments.’ We follow children’s interests and provide ‘hands on’ experiences to engage the children during ‘free flow’ periods. Our resources are ‘open ended’, and can be used flexibly so that the children are not restricted and can follow their interests and ideas creatively.

An important part of teaching in the Early Years is through interactions. Adults observe the children closely as they play, and join in sensitively to support them and move their learning on, extending their language and thinking, and helping to develop their skills. We support the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’, for example, encouraging children to keep going though difficulties, and to be creative and follow their own ideas. Our aim is that our children leave Reception as confident, independent learners, ready for the challenges of Year 1.

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