Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years is the foundation of your child’s learning and is where they will learn the skills that will help them get the best start in life. We strive to create a nurturing, a safe and a happy place for our young learners to grow their skills, abilities and mindsets. 

​Whatever children’s starting point in Nursery or Reception, the school's, ‘Learning Culture’ encourages pupils to take responsibility for their learning and relationships with others; to try things out, to be resilient and learn from their experiences.  We encourage a curiosity about the world and strive to ensure that our children will contribute positively now and in the future.

New Curriculum

At Hague and Stewart Headlam we follow the new revised Early Years Curriculum in conjunction with the new guidelines. It sets standards for the learning, development and care of your child from birth to 5 years old. We provide a balance of structured teaching and play-based, experiential learning. The children are based in their own rooms for some parts of the day and spend other parts of their time engaged in self-initiated and free flow activities throughout the whole setting, including the outside play area.

​The Early Years Foundation Curriculum is grounded in active learning and a stimulating curriculum which ignites children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. Our curriculum has been designed specifically to meet the needs of our youngest learners with an emphasis on the unique child at the centre. The curriculum takes a holistic approach to teaching and learning and is based on educational programmes, the Prime Areas and the Specific Areas. From September 2021 our new revised Curriculum has been built on the guidelines listed the New Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS 2021).

​There are seven areas of learning and development that shape educational programmes in early years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.

​The prime areas, are:

​Communication and Language

In this area children talk about what they want and feel, likes and dislikes. They have opportunities to express themselves through role-play and they can enjoy stories, songs, poems and rhymes. Children use language to describe past and present experiences, and sequence events. Children will learn to speak in small and large groups, to listen and follow instructions, to listen carefully to others and demonstrate skills such as asking interesting and appropriate questions

​Physical Development

This area sees children playing and learning inside and outside. They become good at moving, climbing, controlling, catching, throwing and coordinating with more and more skill. 

They will get opportunities to chase, race, jump, balance and play with a partner and in teams. Children will learn to dress and undress themselves. They will use different types of tools for drawing, painting, cutting and sticking to develop fine motor skills.  

​Personal, Social and Emotional Development

In this area children develop confidence, self-esteem and self-regulation skills. They learn about relationships and how to express their feelings. Children learn about sharing, taking turns and negotiating with others. They begin to understand rules but also develop the sense of responsibility and respect, develop their independence skills and they will learn about the importance of hygiene, self-care and oral health.

​The Specific Areas

Through practical activities, purposeful play and talk, pupils develop an understanding of the world around them developing skills in:


In this area children handle and share books with others. Children will have chances to see letters and words written down, they will learn the sounds of the alphabet through phonic sessions and speaking and listening activities. In this area children handle and share books with others. Children will have chances to see letters and words written down, they will learn the sounds of the alphabet through phonics sessions and speaking and listening activities. They will start to hear the different sounds that make up a word and apply this knowledge when looking at words in books. They will begin to read with comprehension and write captions and sentences.


In this area the children sort and group objects and materials, explaining why they have done something. They will compare height, weight, size and texture. Children will begin to use positional language to tell where things are and to put things in order. Children have opportunities to make models with shapes and talk about them and what they look like. They will then notice and make patterns with them. Children will recognise numbers around them, they will begin to count, add objects together and take them away. They will start to put events in order and investigate how to solve practical problems.

​Understanding the world

In this area the children have opportunities to explore and investigate the world around them. They will be able to look at and talk about objects, materials, living creatures and plant life, noticing details, similarities and difference. They will try things out and come to some conclusions and see reason. Children will have support to record findings by drawing, using the computer and camera. They will begin to know about different people and their cultures, past and present, traditions and places in the community.

​Expressive arts and design

In this area, children will express their own thoughts, ideas and feelings through drawing, painting and model making. They will have the chance to design and make their own creations using man-made and natural materials. They will explore colour, shape and texture using their senses. Children will be able to listen to and make their own music, dance, sing songs and take part in imaginative role play with others.

​Characteristics of Effective Learning Foundation Stage

The above areas are all about what the children learn but an equal emphasis is also placed on how the children learn. The characteristics of effective learning are the way in which children engage with other people and their environment and are divided into three sections, 

  • ​playing and exploring
  • active learning
  • creating and thinking critically

​The children learn about these different characteristics, finding examples in stories and identifying behaviour in each other to share a celebrate. 

​The children are encouraged by the structure of the EYFS environment and by staff to build secure relationships with adults and their peers so they can be secure, confident, independent, capable and resilient. Children learn in different ways and develop at different rates. They have different interests and teaching staff support children’s learning through planned play activities and extending their spontaneous play opportunities.

​The Foundation Playground is a stimulating place to enjoy learning and much time is spent outdoors. Appropriate foot wear and outdoor clothing should be worn each day as pupils go out in all weathers.

​Family Partnerships

Parents/carers play a major role in fostering good attitudes to learning, developing language skills and promoting good behaviour. Throughout the year there are ‘stay and play’ sessions for you and your child to develop learning characteristics together as well as learn about the curriculum in school and how you can help your child at home. We do hope you are able to attend.

​We use EExAT to record children’s learning. Parents have access to their own child’s learning journey pages and are encouraged to upload learning they see at home. 

​For any further information please read our EYFS Policy, or contact your child’s key worker.