Early Years Foundation Stage at Northumberland Heath Primary

We love learning in Early Years and provide our children with fun and purposeful activities to engage them in their own learning. In both Nursery and Reception the children develop through playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically.

We work from the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS), which covers all areas of children’s learning and development from birth to five years old. There are 7 areas of learning which are divided into two areas, prime and specific.

The ‘prime areas’:

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

The 'specific areas':

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

These lead to 17 Early Learning Goals, which summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that children should gain by the end of the Early Years. Expected levels that children should reach at the end of the Reception year are called the Early Learning Goals (ELGs).

As well as what children learn, the EYFS sets out how children learn; the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ for example, encouraging children to keep going though difficulties, and to be creative and follow their own ideas.

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 in nursery, the balance shifts gradually throughout the Reception year towards more activities led by adults, to support children in their transition for more formal learning in Year 1. For example, Literacy (reading and writing) is taught through the phonics programme following ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds’ and Maths is taught through a mastery approach, which builds on from children’s learning of early mathematical concepts.

Both Nursery and Reception children have the opportunity for daily outdoor learning supported through fully resourced outdoor areas, which support their learning and independence in all areas.

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 EYFS 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. Our aim is that the children leave Reception as confident, independent learners, ready for the challenges of Year 1.

Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. Children have opportunities to visit the environment which supports play, exploration and supported risk taking.

Forest School sessions are tailored to the children’s age and the season, helping them to learn and enjoy being outdoors. Forest School helps to build resilience, promotes teamwork and respect for others and the natural environment.

As part of the outside provision, Nursery and Reception children visit Forest School weekly which is located at the back of our school field.

Nursery children spend one full day in our Forest School, where they have the opportunity to develop skills through stimulating and challenging activities to promote problem solving and collaboration along with supporting many other areas of learning and development.

Our Reception children spend half a day a week at Forest School where they have the opportunity to build on their skills from Nursery and really embed their problem solving and risk taking by climbing trees, digging for insects, creating dens and cooking.

All children who take part in Forest School sessions must wear the appropriate clothing and footwear for the season.