Early Years (Nursery and Reception)

Meet our Early Years Team

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Miss Smithies (Deputy Head for FS and KS1), Mrs Harrison, Mrs Watt, Miss High, Miss MacPhearson, , Mrs Crook, Miss Glossop, Mrs Lacy and Miss Simpson. 

Welcome to our Foundation Stage

We are extremely proud of our Foundation Stage at Kippax Ash Tree. In our Foundation Stage, children embark on a journey of discovery and exploration. 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. Our environment is a holistic approach where we work as one unit. 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 a provocation, adult enhanced provision and materials to extend their learning, 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. 

Miss Smithies, Deputy Head for EYFS and KS1. 

Please let our children take you on a tour of our Foundation Stage by watching the video below.

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy for 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. 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. We believe that children should have time to develop relationships with each other and with material items in the world. Our curriculum aims to give our children the essential knowledge and skills they need to become life long learners. Some of the children who come to our setting enter with limited experiences, so we aim to provide the best possible start to their education and for their future success. We provide enhanced learning opportunities, high quality interactions and awe and wonder through the seven areas of learning. 

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Our Environment

In our school, 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 Foundation Stage Unit, we consider ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’, which promotes positive attitudes to learning, an enthusiasm for knowledge and the confidence to become successful learners.

Characteristics of Effective Learning:

  • Playing and Exploring

  • Active Learning

  • Creating and Thinking Critically

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.


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Family Group 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.

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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.

All adults in the Foundation staff 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.

We want 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.


Observations and Assessment

'Children have a right, spelled out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to provision which enables them to develop their personalities, talents and abilities irrespective of ethnicity, culture or religion, home language, family background, learning difficulties, disabilities or gender.' Development Matters Document. 

In order to assess where the children are in their development and learning, we use an online journal called Tapestry. This assessment tool will now (from September 2021) be used for staff only. We are now moving towards using our whole school communication system (Class Dojo) to share learning with parents and families. 

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. This is a change from previous years as, under the new Early Adopter framework, exceeding (working above the expected level) have been removed.

The EYFS Areas of Learning


Personal, Social and Emotional Learning

Children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Underpinning their personal development are the important attachments that shape their social world. Strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults enable children to learn how to understand their own feelings and those of others. Children should be supported to manage emotions, develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own abilities, to persist and wait for what they want and direct attention as necessary. Through adult modelling and guidance, they will learn how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and manage personal needs independently.
Through supported interaction with other children, they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably. These attributes will provide a secure platform from which children can achieve at school and in later life. (Statutory Early Years Framework 2021)


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We develop socially by gaining the confidence to try new activities, and say why we like some activities more than others. We learn how to be confident to speak in a familiar group and talk about our ideas. We believe that children should learn to manage their feelings by talking about how they feel, and talking about our own and others’ behaviour and its consequences. Children learn to work as part of a group or class, and learn to adjust their behaviour to different situations. We also take changes of routine in our stride.


Communication and Language Development

The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children
are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children's language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.

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We believe children should learn how to answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events. This is done by using past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. Children develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.

Physical Development

Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, co-ordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both
objects and adults. By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye co-ordination, which is later linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practice of using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.


Through the Read Write Inc. phonics scheme, children learn how to read and understand simple sentences. Phonics are used to decode regular words and learn how to read them aloud accurately. Children are also taught how to read some common irregular words (red words). Through comprehension activities, children learn how to demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read. 

It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and
songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).


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Children learn to use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. By the end of the year, children learn how to write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Using phonic knowledge, we always encourage children to try their best to write phonetically plausible words.

Children are given opportunities to:

  • Talk and communicate in a widening range of situations, to respond to adults and each other, to listen carefully and to practise and extend their communication skills.

  • Explore words and texts in a vocabulary rich environment with a new story or traditional tale every day to enjoy and decode.

  • Enjoy rhyme. Did you know that if children know eight nursery rhymes by the time they're four years old, they're usually among the best readers by the time they're eight? Rhyming helps children to break words down and to hear the sounds that make up words in preparation for reading and writing. Therefore, we sing songs and have a rhyme time with children every day.

  • Begin the structured Read Write Inc phonics teaching programme through a daily phonics and writing lesson

  • Enjoy writing, discussion and storytelling linked to our curriculum units, using the Write Way (Jane Considine) approach to teaching writing techniques.



Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting - children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from
which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’,
talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.


Understanding of the World

Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a
broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.


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Expressive Arts and Design

The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.


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Curriculum Information 2021

Please find our whole school curriculum Medium Term Plans for 2021 on the 'Our Voices and Choices Curriculum' page. 


If you would like any more information about this year group's curriculum please speak to the Foundation Stage staff.