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, Mrs Bentley, Miss MacPhearson, Miss Thompson, Mrs Crook, Mr Hicks and Miss Glossop. 

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.

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. Tapestry is great as we can share all of our lovely observations, photos and videos with parents and carers, so they can see all the unique and wonderful things that their child does in school everyday.

Furthermore, parents and carers can share photos and videos from home with the staff. This is a great opportunity for children to develop their speaking and listening skills and take account of what one another says. Our children love to tell their friends and family groups all about their family visits, trips and experiences. If you would like to know more about Tapestry please speak to your child's family group leader. 


If you would like support to set up your Tapestry account please ask a member of staff or you can watch these easy to follow online tutorials:

Setting up your account

Adding an observation



Personal, Social and Emotional Learning

In Foundation Stage, we develop our personal, social and emotional aspects of learning through play, interaction, nurture groups, circle times and daily routines. We develop personally by learning to play cooperatively and taking turns with others. The children learn to take account of one another’s ideas and discuss how to organise their activities. We learn to show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.


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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

We learn to develop our listening and attention skills by learning how to listen attentively in a range of situations. Therefore, children often listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events, and respond to what they hear by making relevant comments, questions or actions. We encourage children to give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, even whilst engaged in another activity.


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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

Through specific skill teaching, children are taught how to show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. Through movement activities, they learn how to move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. Importantly, children also learn how to handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.

We also teach about the importance of physical exercise and a healthy diet, talking about ways to keep healthy and safe. Children also learn how to manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.


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. 


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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.



We use the White Rose Hub Early Years Mastery programme to plan and teach Maths in EYFS. Children learn how to count reliably with numbers from one to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. We use quantities and objects, add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. This allows children to solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

We use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. Children then learn to recognise, create and describe patterns and explore the characteristics of everyday objects and shapes, using mathematical language to describe them.


Understanding of the World

Children are encouraged to talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of our family members, and they learn to accept that other children don’t always enjoy the same things. As a class, we all discuss the similarities and differences between ourselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.


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Through indoor and outdoor investigation, we also talk about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. We talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. During activities such as ‘Wellie Wednesday’, we make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur.



Children learn how to recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools, and how to select and use technology for particular purposes.


Expressive Arts and Design

We sing songs, make music and dance, then experiment with ways of changing them. We safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function through a range of activities.


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Children learn how to use their knowledge about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. We represent our own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories.


Curriculum Information 2020-2021

Please find our whole school curriculum Medium Term Plans for 2020-21 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.