The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

The Early Years Curriculum is the first stage of the National Curriculum.

Children are competent learners from birth and develop and learn in a wide variety of ways and at different rates. The period of life between age three and five is really important both in its own right but also in preparing children for later learning. Children explore the world around them, ask questions, extend their skills, develop their confidence and build on what they already know. Well planned play is central to children's learning in the Early Years. That way learning is both challenging and fun.

There are seven areas for learning and development. Three areas are particularly important for igniting children's enthusiasm for learning. These are the prime areas:

Communication and Language
Physical Development
Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Leaving four specific areas through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied:

Understanding the World
Expressive Arts and Design

All areas of learning and development are important and interconnected and often activities will cover many of the areas at once. Each area is divided into stages of development and teachers and teaching assistants are able to identify resources and learning opportunities both indoors and outdoors to meet each child's needs.

The indoor and outdoor "classrooms" are organised to give children plenty of space to move around, to work on the floor and table tops, individually and in small and large groups. Resources are well-organised and labelled so that children know where to find what they need and can develop independence skills from an early age. This means that adults can spend more time joining in with children's learning, extending their language and thinking and helping them to make progress. The role of the adult is crucial in supporting children's learning through planned play and adult focused activities as well as extending and responding to children's spontaneous play.

Assessment - Children's progress is continually assessed against the areas of learning, and at the end of their reception year, children's progress can be compared to that of reception age children nationally. This gives parents and teachers an idea of whether children are working towards, meeting or exceeding expectations, providing a starting point for learning when children begin year 1.