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Penn Wood Primary

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Early Years

The Early Years Foundation Stage is the period of learning and development from birth to the end of their first year in school (Reception). It is called the Early Years Foundation Stage because it aims to give children secure foundations in order to  make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. The EYFS Framework recognises that good parenting, along with high quality early learning provided by settings, support this.  School and parents should work in close partnership. 


The EYFS Statutory Framework describes how each child should be kept healthy and safe, how they should be cared for and how all concerned can make sure that each child achieves the most that they can in their earliest years of life.


This framework is based on four important principles:


A unique child – Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
This means that we recognise that children develop in individual ways and at varying rates. We are inclusive and ensure that no child or family is discriminated against, and that the health, well being and safety of the children in our care is paramount.


Positive Relationships – Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.  

We see parents as partners; when parents & EYFS staff work together, it has a positive impact on children’s development and learning. Every child has a ‘Key Person’ throughout their time in Nursery and Reception; this person endeavours to develop a warm, trusting relationship with their key children, giving each child the reassurance needed to feel safe and cared for.


Enabling Environments – Children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time.  Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.

By giving the children a rich and varied learning environment, making use of both inside and outside areas, we support every child in their learning and development. Activities are planned by observing the children in order to understand their individual needs.


Learning and Development— Children develop and learn at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.  

We recognise that play is a child’s work and that children learn best through a combination of both physical and mental challenges. Play is children's way of discovering the world around them and how it works. It is a natural vehicle for learning because it motivates young children. Learning experiences, enhanced by a variety of materials, provide opportunities for exploration and experimentation, construction and representation, creation and imagination which leads to children learning skills and concepts through repetition, consolidation, socialisation and emotional security. Early experiences affect children’s attitudes to learning. They create the basis for later learning.


We want all children to have enjoyable and satisfying childhood experiences.

The Characteristics of Effective Learning
In planning and guiding what children learn, practitioners must reflect on the different rates at which children are developing and adjust their practice appropriately.  Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:


playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things and ‘have a go’
active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things


These underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum
There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape the curriculum offer in all early years settings.  All seven areas of learning are important and interconnected.


Three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children's curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.  They are known as the prime areas, and are also crucial for building children’s capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.  The prime areas are:


Communication and Language
Physical Development
Personal, Social and Emotional Development


There are four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:


Understanding the World
Expressive Arts and Design 

Across the Foundation Stage, we endeavour to provide educational programmes that involve activities and experiences for children, as follows:


Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to:

  • experience a rich language environment;
  • develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and
  • to speak and listen in a range of situations. 

This area underpins all seven areas of learning and development.

Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to:

  • be active and interactive; and
  • develop their co-ordination, control, and movement.

Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.

Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to:

  • develop a positive sense of themselves and others;
  • form positive relationships and develop respect for others;
  • to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings;
  • to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and
  • to have confidence in their own abilities.

Literacy development involves encouraging children to

  • link sounds and letters and
  • begin to read and write.

Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interest. For more information about our approach to teaching early reading through phonics (RWI), please visit the Reading area of our website.

Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to

  • develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers;
  • calculate simple addition and subtraction problems; and
  • describe shapes, spaces, and measures.
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.

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