Early Years Foundation Unit
Supporting every child to strive to thrive by five

Welcome to our Early Years

We are extremely proud of our Early Years Unit at Kippax Ash Tree where children embark on a journey of discovery, exploration and strive to thrive by five. We create a happy and caring environment where all children feel valued and safe and where they will have the opportunity to develop positive relationships with all the adults and children within our setting. The Early Years Foundation Stage is a unique curriculum where children often initiate their own learning through play as well as engaging in planned topic led learning. Each child belongs to a small Family Group led by each adult in Foundation Stage. The Family Groups are made up of both Nursery and Reception children with a huge emphasis on developing PSED skills and building a strong relationship with each other and their familiar adult. Our environment is a holistic approach where we work as one unit (Nursery and Reception together). This means that children can freely access all EYFS rooms, and the outdoor classroom. Within each area of learning children will be exposed to curriculum based skills through play. Each area will have provocations, adult enhanced provision and materials to extend their learning and deepen their knowledge, all running alongside our continuous provision. We have a team of highly skilled practitioners who support children's learning and development and allow children to continually revisit, rehearse and deepen their knowledge and skills through a well planned curriculum which is tailored to our children's needs.

You can find out more and follow our Early Years adventures on Twitter @AshTreeEYFS and on Instagram @kippaxashtree_eyfs

Children develop core strength in our outdoor area.

Our Intent (What we do)

'Strive to Thrive by Five'.

At Kippax Ash Tree we use our powerful voices to enable us to make meaningful choices for a life of opportunity and success.

Throughout a child’s time with us in our EYFS we aim to provide children with the opportunities to learn and develop skills for lifelong learning. We see each child as an individual and as practitioners we have the ambition to unlock their true potential. Our aim is to prepare our children for the future, equip them with the ability to use and transfer their skills across the whole curriculum enabling children to be ready and fit for the next stage of their education.

We strive to establish an Early Years environment which provides for all its pupils, a happy and secure environment in which to learn and be cared for. It is a place where every child is recognised as an individual and is helped to understand that they have great value for being themselves. In our EYFS unit we consider ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ which promote positive attitudes to learning, an enthusiasm for knowledge and the confidence to become successful learners.

Early Years at Kippax Ash Tree is the foundation and first steps to our children becoming independent, resilient and curious learners. As a school we want all children to strive to thrive, to develop powerful voices which enable children to make meaningful and well informed choices for a life of opportunity and success. In order to achieve this every child needs a strong support network based on positive, mutually respectful relationships.

“No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship” James Comer

Our EYFS Values

  • Independence; we promote confidence and self-esteem as well as motivation and perseverance. We foster self-reliance and allow children to feel they have control to take risks, develop self-image, emotional development as well as social development.
  • Resilience;we encourage children to have the ability to overcome negative circumstances and adversity in life, handling emotions and remaining healthy and competent, having coping mechanisms and begin to be able to bounce back and deal with whatever life throws at you.
  • Curiosity; children are at the heart of the learning process, and we provide them with innumerable opportunities to explore, imagine, and create.

Our Curriculum

Our Early Years approach to learning is based upon some principles of the Reggio Emilia approach, however we tailor all teaching and learning to the needs of our children who attend Kippax Ash Tree. At times through out the day learning is led by the individual child, but through a more structured and focused approach using sustained thinking strategies. We believe that children should be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing and that children should have time to develop relationships with each other and with material items in the world.

Our Curriculum gives our children the essential core knowledge and skills they need to become life long learners and the tools to succeed in life. We start with our youngest learners in F1 progressing to our F2 learners ensuring they are fully prepared for Year One. We provide the best possible start to education and lay the foundations for future success through enhanced learning opportunities, high quality interactions and awe and wonder through the seven areas of learning.

Our EYFS Curriculum is underpinned by first hand experience, developing communication and language, independence and self regulation. These are our key drivers for excellence in Early Years. Our curriculum is well planned and sequenced with preplanned end points but it also has the flexibility to be led by the children's interests through project work. This ensures children's talents, own interests and fascinations and needs are always nurtured.

Children develop art skills in our Atelier.

Implementation (How we do what we do)

In our Early Years Unit we have Nursery and Reception aged children (from 3-5 years).

The EYFS Curriculum (revised 2021)

The EYFS curriculum is split into Prime and Specific areas. The prime areas are important because they lay the foundations for children’s success in all other areas of learning and of life. The specific areas provide the range of experiences and opportunities for children to broaden their knowledge and skills:

The Prime Areas of learning are:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development;
  • Communication and Language;
  • Physical Development.

The Specific Areas of learning are:

  • Literacy;
  • Mathematics;
  • Understanding the World;
  • Expressive Arts and Design.

At the end of the Reception year, pupils are bench marked against the Early Learning Goals for each area. Attainment is described as either: emerging (working below the expected level) or expected (working at the expected level) and these are reported to parents in the end-of-year written report.

Our Environment

We strive to establish a happy and secure Early Years environment, in which all pupils can learn and be cared for. It is a place where every child is recognised as an individual and is helped to understand that there is great value in being themselves. In our EYFS unit we have three indoor rooms and a large outdoor space; the garden.

Room 1 - La Casa

As you walk through Room 1 the home from home feel is extremely apparent. Every area has been carefully designed to reflect the home; where children naturally feel safe and secure. There is a large kitchen area, lounge area, bedroom area and large space where our children eat their lunch together in their Family Groups. Every item and resource has been purposefully selected. In our home space children can learn about conflict, resolution, family dynamics as well as physical skills through their play. They make connections to home and family. Imagination and creative thinking is nurtured as children enter their own fantasy worlds. Children can try out new ideas and ways of thinking.

Room 2 - Curiosity Cabin

Children can build, create and imagine in a safe and manageable world. Small world play offers opportunities for children to build upon their language skills, expanding their vocabulary and the understanding of new words and concepts. The stage offers the children daily opportunities to engage in social and emotional play. Children make sense of the world through music, performance, singing, dancing and acting. The area for projection, light, shadow and colour gives children the opportunity to develop curiosity, creativity and imagination.
Children explore theories of reflection, size, perspective, transparency, position, interplay and shape. Light leads to the discovery and knowledge of the world through means of different languages, words, drawings, constructions and visual compositions.

Children learn about light, dark and shadows in Curiosity Cabin.

Room 3 - The Studio

The Studio is a place for artistic exploration, for trying new ideas and playing with materials. We learn to speak the language of art. It is a place where children can experiment freely, plan, design, play creatively and follow their interests and curiosities. We explore the physical qualities of a range of rich mediums, taking time to fully understand a medium, how it moves, how it feels and how it holds its shape. We engage with tools and techniques and become skilled over time with different mediums. The materials we offer inspire creativity, expression, imagination and a sense of identity. The textile area aims to develop an understanding of using different techniques. As well as the practical and design thinking skills gained we learn many transferable skills such as collaboration and physical strength. Clay and play dough provide a satisfying material to explore with. It supports the strengthening of all our bodies muscles. A woodwork bench with real tools and wide range of construction materials prompts children to put into practice what they are learning about the world.

Children learn how to take risks and use tools safely in the studio.

The Outdoor Area - The Garden

The garden is where natural curiosities are there for the taking. It is a place of wonder, fascinations and a place to be free. It provides a diversity of natural resources and spaces that can not be replicated indoors. The resources on offer help develop the skills of enquiry, critical thinking and reflection. Time spent in the garden allows children to connect with the natural world through experiencing the elements: water, air, fire and earth, seasonal changes, growth and decay and changes over periods of time. Daily access to the garden supports a healthy attitude and supports active lifestyles as well as learning about our senses all through the seasons. We also have the opportunity for weekly planned Forest School sessions in our Forest School area within the school grounds.

Children will explore, discover and investigate in our learning landscape using a range of open-ended resources. They will follows their own interests but also access adult-led learning time. We believe that children learn best when they are engaged in real, hands-on, exciting experiences. Adults here facilitate, extend and challenge children’s learning. Our calm and purposeful environment acts as our 'third teacher'. We offer a beautiful natural calm and purposeful learning environment which promotes a 'home from home' feel with real life objects to support children to feel safe, have a sense of familiarity and secure. Our indoor and outdoor learning environment allows our children to be curious and creative alongside developing key child development skills. Provocations in the environment inspire and challenge children and the hands on experiences and curriculum opportunities deepen children's knowledge and understanding of the world.

Forest School

We also have the amazing opportunity for all children in Nursery and Reception to take part in a weekly Forest School session with Molly (our qualified Forest School Teacher from Wilderness Adventures). Forest school supports our children to become more confident, develop social skills and communication and language skills, develop physical stamina and a keenness to participate alongside developing knowledge, understanding of the world and respect for the environment.

Weekly Forest School sessions in Early Years with Wilderness Adventures. Children learn how to be safe and respect the fire.

Family Groups

Our Early Years Family Groups are made up of Nursery and Reception children. Each Family Group ranges from 10 to 16 children. Each adult in our Early Years Unit has the responsibility for their own small 'family' of children. This approach has been proven particularly successful for developing communication and language and personal, social and emotional skills. The role of the Family Group Leader is to build a strong relationship with their group of children, their parents and their families. Family Group leaders develop a deep understanding of each child's needs, interests and prime area abilities. The nurturing relationship develops and deepens and ensures children feel safe and secure in the environment.

Child Led Projects

Research based evidence shows that children who are engaged in project work show a better command of creative tools and instruments later in life. The impact of collaborative approaches on learning is consistently positive (Education Endowment Foundation). During project work, children easily proceed from exploration to representation, which has a positive impact on their development. Children’s vocabulary is expanded and contextualised whilst exposing children to new words which they might not come across in the curriculum. Project work is an innovative and well explored pedagogical method to learn about the world around them, widen their cultural capital and develop the way they express themselves. The entire system is designed to be connected, with nothing left to sit in isolation. Everything is alive and everything is connected.

We aim to give children endless ways and opportunities to express themselves. At Kippax Ash Tree, we believe children should be given opportunities to develop their potential through self-initiated exploration and themed project-led learning approaches. Throughout the day, children have the opportunity to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, discuss and clarify their understanding in the various areas across the whole unit.

Artwork from The Owl Project.

Our Adults

All adults in our Early Years are seen as the facilitators. Adults challenge, extend and question children through sustained learning conversations in order for them to make decisions and lead their learning in their desired direction. The adults support all the children to take an active role in their learning; persevering with problems they encounter, have an enterprising attitude and show determination to achieve high standards in everything they do. Our approach also allows children to understand how to work as part of a team, think creatively and independently. Our Early Years staff team are highly skilled, dedicated to child development and uphold the highest of expectations. They have a strong commitment to excellence and to ensuring all children exceed expectations.

Parent Communication

The parent and family relationship is fundamental to our Early Years unit. We communicate in a variety of ways, first and foremost in person. Our Early Years team are on the door every morning and at the end of every day. The team are committed to developing strong sustained relationships with all of our Ash Tree families. We use an online tool called Class Dojo for whole school communication.

In Early Years we also use Class Dojo as an online curriculum tool to share our learning with parents. Each day our adults will post the days learning to ensure that you are constantly informed of what your child will be learning that day. Photos and videos are also uploaded to each child's Class Dojo portfolio to showcase those wow moments so you can share and celebrate those moments at home.

An example of a Class Dojo daily learning post.

Impact (The result of what we do)

The impact of our well sequenced, knowledge rich and language focused curriculum combined with highly skilled adults, a stimulating and engaging environment and dedicated practitioners enables our children to be successful learners and ready for Year One.  

We strive to ensure all our children make good or better progress in all areas of the Early Years with the ability to communicate effectively and self regulate. At Ash Tree we have the highest expectations of all learners and our curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of our children in our context. Our provision is constantly adapted to meet our children's developmental needs and next steps are personalised and unique to each child.