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Early Years

Holdbrook Primary School is committed to providing the highest quality setting for all children. We value the importance of promoting young children’s individuality and allow for opportunities of exploration, challenge and curiosity, in a safe and stimulating child-centred environment.

In Nursery and Reception, we follow the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage issued by the Department for Education (DfE). It has four main themes expressing important principles which underpin the children’s learning and development:

  • A Unique Child – every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured;
  • Positive Relationships – children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships;
  • Enabling Environments – children learn and develop well in enabling environments in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between Practitioners and Parents and/or Carers;
  • Learning and Development – children develop and learn in different ways and 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.

The Curriculum

The curriculum consists of seven areas of learning. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive:

  • 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:

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

Communication and languagedevelopment involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations.

Physical developmentinvolves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive and to 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 developmentinvolves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves and others to 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 developmentinvolves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to 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.

Mathematicsinvolves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.

Understanding the worldinvolves 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.

There are then 17 Early Learning Goals (ELGs) which are part of these areas of learning. If a child achieves these goals by the end of the Reception year then they are said to be working at the expected level.

To support children with working towards these ELGs we use a document called Development Matters. This breaks down each goal into different age bands and is used by staff throughout the year to assess how close children are to reaching the goals.

The characteristics of effective learning

The experiences that our children meet often enable them to develop a number of competencies, skills and concepts across several areas of learning at a time.

In planning and guiding children’s activities, staff reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice. 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.

In the classrooms

Early Years learning and development is provided through purposeful play and through adult led structures and routines that build confidence and provide intellectual stimulus and challenge.

Throughout the day, children have direct teaching sessions for maths, literacy and phonics, either as the whole class or in small groups. The rest of the time they take part in activities inside and outside the classroom. Free-flow activities encompassing all seven areas of learning are always available to the children. Teaching staff engage with the children during these activities and help to support their learning and development. Children’s learning is assessed by observing what they say and do during these times. This is recorded and shared with parents. Parents can add their contributions to the children’s learning journal, adding any new learning they have seen at home.