The Nursery/Pre-School Curriculum

The Early Year Foundation Stage (EYFS) years are an integrated approach to care and education which runs from before a child is born to when they are five years old - the end of Reception Class.

Every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfil their potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important and provides the foundation for children to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. The aim of the Foundation Years is to help young children achieve the five ‘Every Child Matters’ outcomes of staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being. The EYFS principles are grouped into four distinct but complementary themes:

  • A Unique Child – recognises that every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. The commitments are focused around development; inclusion; safety; and health and well-being.
  • Positive Relationships – describes how children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person. The commitments are focused around respect; partnership with parents; supporting learning; and the role of the key person.
  • Enabling Environments – explains that the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning. The commitments are focused around observation, assessment and planning; support for every child; the learning environment; and the wider context – transitions, continuity, and multi-agency working.
  • Learning and Development – recognises that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, and that all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.

Learning and Development in the EYFS

The learning and development in the EYFS comprises three elements:

  • The statutory Foundation Years framework – the knowledge, skills and understanding which young children should have acquired by the end of the academic year in which they reach the age of five;
  • The educational programmes – the matters, skills and processes which are required to be taught to young children;
  • The assessment arrangements – the arrangements for assessing young children to ascertain their achievement.

There are 7 statutory areas covered in the statutory Foundation Years framework

Three prime areas:

  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Communication and language development
  • Physical development

Four specific areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Art and Design


The first three areas are of prime importance and necessary for effective development and achievement in early years and beyond. The specific areas help to support a rounded approach to child development. All areas are delivered through planned, purposeful play, with a balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities both inside and outside.

In Nursery and Pre-school, learning is mainly ‘child-led’ rather than ‘adult-led’. This means that the staff respond to and build upon each child’s interests. Activities can look very different to those an adult might have had in mind! Through careful observation and shaping of activities based on the children’s interests, frequent opportunities to develop understanding of early maths concepts and pre-reading and writing skills are provided.

Assessment arrangements in the EYFS

Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. All practitioners in the setting observe children and respond appropriately to help them make progress towards the early learning goals. Assessments are based on observation of what children are doing in their day-to-day activities. All adults who interact with a child contribute to this process and information is also sought from parents and the children themselves. Observations and assessments are used to identify learning priorities and plan relevant and motivating learning experiences for each child. Observations are then matched to age-related expectations.

At the end of Reception, the Foundation Years statutory framework is used to sum up each child’s development and learning achievements. The framework is based on practitioners’ ongoing observation and assessments in all the areas of Learning and Development. Judgements against these scales are made from observation of consistent and independent behaviour, predominantly children’s self-initiated activities. This information is passed on to the child’s new teacher as part of the transition process in the summer term.