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, Miss Glossop and Ms Simpson. 

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 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 therefore we aim to provide the best possible start to their education and for future success. We provide enhanced learning opportunities, high quality interactions and awe and wonder through the seven areas of learning. 

Our Environment

In our school 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 Foundation Stage Unit we consider ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ which promote 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, following their own interests and access adult led learning time. We believe that children learn best when they are engaged in real, hand on, exciting experiences. Adults 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 and in relationship. Nothing is 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 have rights and 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, choices 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.


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 our lovely observations, photos and videos with the parents so they can see all the unique and wonderful things that their child does in school everyday. Furthermore parents can share photos and video's 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7ROkDnb4I0

Adding an observation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=espJ96TJHV8


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, 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, talk about our ideas, and will choose the resources need for our activities.

We learn to manage our feelings through talking about how we feel, talking about our own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences. We learn to work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. Furthermore we adjust our behaviour to different situations, and 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. We listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what we hear making relevant comments, questions or actions. We give our attention to what others say and respond appropriately, even whilst engaged in another activity.

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We develop our understanding by following instructions involving several ideas or actions. We learn how to answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about our experiences and in response to stories or events.
We express ourselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. We learn how to use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. We develop our own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.

Physical Development

Through specific skill teaching we are taught how to show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. Through movement activities we learn how to move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. We learn how to handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.
We learn about the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. We learn how to manage our own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.


Through the Read Write Inc. phonics scheme we learn how to read and understand simple sentences. We learn how to use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. We are also taught how to read some common irregular words (red words). Through comprehension activities we learn how to demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read. You can find out more about the Read, Write Inc. phonics scheme by following this link: http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/parents/

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From emergent writing to sentence writing through stories, captions and information facts we learn to use our phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. We also learn how write some irregular common words (red words). By the end of the year we learn how to write simple sentences which can be read by ourselves and others. Using our phonic knowledge we always ensure that we try our best to write phonetically plausible words.


We 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. We learn how to solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

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

Understanding of the World

We talk about past and present events in our own lives and in the lives of our family members. We learn to accept that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and we learn how to be sensitive to this. We discuss similarities and differences between ourselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.

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Through indoor and outdoor investigation we 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, and talk about changes.


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

Expressive Arts and Design

We sing songs, make music and dance, and 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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We learn how to use what they have learnt 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.