Early Years Foundation Stage

Wheatley Nursery School

Early Years Foundation Stage Policy

  • Aims

    This policy is intended to support and encourage staff in meeting the statutory requirements and in the delivery of high quality experiences for children’s learning and development. It is written in light of the publication of the EYFS framework (2017), Every Child Matters (ECM) and in the context of our vision for the provision of high quality play experiences for all children.

    “Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfill their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. 

    (Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage page 5 DFE 2017)

    The Early Years Foundation Stage applies to children from birth to the end of the reception year. 

    Four guiding principles shape our practice at Wheatley Nursery School

    1. Every child is a unique child 
    2. Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
    3. Children learn and develop well in enabling environments 
    4. Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates

    A Unique Child

    Child Development

    At Wheatley Nursery School we recognise that every child is a competent learner who can be resilient, capable, confident and self assured. We also recognise that children develop in individual ways, at varying rates. Children’s attitudes and dispositions to learning are influenced by feedback from others; we use praise and encouragement, as well as celebration/ sharing circle times and reward incentives, to encourage children to develop a positive attitude to learning.

    Inclusive Practice

    We value the diversity of individuals within our school and do not discriminate against children because of ‘differences’. All children and their families are valued. 

    In our school we believe that all our children matter. We give our children every opportunity to achieve their best. We do this by taking into account our children’s range of life experiences when planning for their learning.

    In the EYFS we set realistic and challenging expectations that meet the needs of our children. We achieve this by planning to meet the needs of all children: those with special educational needs, children who are more able, children with disabilities, children from all social and cultural backgrounds, children of different ethnic groups and those from diverse linguistic backgrounds. We liaise closely with all relevant professionals in order to provide early support for those children and their families who need it.

    We meet the needs of all our children through;

    • Planning opportunities that build upon and extend children’s knowledge, experience and interests, and develop their self-esteem and confidence,
    • Using a wide range of teaching strategies based on children’s learning needs,
    • Providing a wide range of opportunities to motivate and support children and to help them to learn effectively, 
    • Providing a safe and supportive learning environment in which the contributions of all children are valued,
    • Assigning a key person to each child who makes links with children’s home experiences through parents/carers,
    • Using resources which reflect diversity and are free from discrimination and stereotyping,
    • Planning challenging activities for children whatever their age and stage of development,
    • Monitoring children’s progress and taking action to provide support as 


    Keeping safe

    It is important to us that all children feel ‘safe’. We help children become familiar with safety, boundaries, rules and limits and to help them understand why they exist. We provide children with choices to help them develop this important life skill. Our children will be allowed to take risks, but need to be taught how to recognise and avoid hazards. We aim to protect the physical, emotional and psychological well being of all children. (See our Safeguarding Policy)

    “Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met, and when they have positive relationships with the adults caring for them.”

    (Statutory Framework for the EYFS pg. 16 DFE 2017)

    At Wheatley Nursery School we understand that we are legally required to comply with the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements as stated in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage 2017. We understand that we are required to: 

    • Promote the welfare of children
    • Secure the key person role and meet ratios of 1:13
    • Provide healthy snacks and encourage healthy meals
    • Promote good health, preventing the spread of infection and taking appropriate action when children are ill or have an accident
    • Manage behaviour effectively in a manner appropriate for the children’s stage of development and individual needs
    • Ensure all adults who look after the children or who have unsupervised access to them are suitable to do so
    • Ensure all staff have access to regular CPD (Continuous Professional Development) and supervision
    • Ensure that the premises, furniture and equipment is safe and suitable for purpose
    • Ensure that every child receives enjoyable and challenging learning and development experiences tailored to meet their needs
    • Maintain records, policies and procedures required for safe efficient management of the setting and to meet the needs of the children

    Health and Well-being

    Children’s health is an integral part of their emotional, mental, social, environmental and spiritual well-being. We promote healthy snacks and offer foods from different cultures to develop their taste preferences. Activities relating to the food cycle are interwoven in planning e.g. planting seeds, gathering, preparing and eating! We ensure that children can rest during the day and have quiet areas indoors and places outdoors where children can relax alongside space for vigorous free movements.

    Positive Relationships

    Respecting Each Other

    At Wheatley Nursery School we recognise that children learn to be strong and independent through forming secure relationships. We aim to develop caring, respectful, professional relationships with the children and their families. 

    Parents as Partners

    We recognise that parents and carers are children’s first and most enduring educators and we highly value the contribution that parents make. We recognise the role that parents have played, and their future role, in supporting their child/ren’s development. We do this through:

    • Talking to parents about their child before they start in our school
    • The children having the opportunity to spend time with staff at Home visits prior to starting 
    • Offering parents regular opportunities to talk about their child’s development and progress and allowing free access to their children’s Learning Journal 
    • Encouraging parents to talk to their child’s key person about any concerns they may have
    • Offering various activities throughout the year that involve parents and carers in the life of school for example, community events
    • Supporting parents and carers whose first language is one other than English

    Supporting Learning

    Effective teaching approaches will be secure where we:

    • Engage and stimulate our young learners
    • Allow for regular review of progress towards learning outcomes
    • Vary what we provide to match children’s needs
    • Maximize opportunities to explore in a whole group, small group, paired, individual and independent

    Routines are an important way that children feel secure and can make sense of all the opportunities offered throughout their time in school

    Our routines are structured yet flexible. We have small group time and whole group time. Children will use continuous provision indoor and outdoor throughout their day and will also be supported through adult – led activities.

    Key Person

    At Wheatley Nursery School each child has a key person. The key person builds confidence, gives children opportunities to express their thinking and use their initiative. We believe children learn and develop effectively when the key person provides:

    • First-hand experiences 
    • Individual and collaborative learning experiences
    • Appropriate pace
    • An environment where children can take risks
    • Innovative delivery
    • Clear expectations
    • Opportunities to review and reflect
    • Thinking time
    • Thorough preparation and organisation
    • Activities building on prior learning
    • Open-ended, thought provoking challenging questions
    • Support for children with differing needs 
    • Support for parents and carers

    All staff involved with children in the Early Years Foundation Stage aim to develop good and warm relationships, interacting positively with them and taking time to listen.

    “The best kind of teacher is one who helps you do what you couldn’t do for yourself but doesn’t do it for you” 

    (Child aged 8, quoted in “Teaching Children to think” by Robert Fisher, Nelson Thornes 1990)

    Enabling Environments

    Observation, Assessment and Planning – Supporting Every Child

    At Wheatley Nursery School we recognise that the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending the children’s learning and development. This begins by observing the children and assessing their interests, before planning challenging, but achievable, activities and experiences to extend their learning and development. Assessment of their achievements will ensure they make the appropriate progress.

    Observation is key to planning an appropriately challenging and exciting curriculum.

    The recording of observations is practicable, organised and well-managed. Observations are recorded in children’s learning journeys and or Golden Books. They also contain information provided by the practitioner, parents and other professionals where appropriate. Next steps are identified and judgements can be made regarding the child’s achievements. 

    Planning meetings are held weekly to enable all staff to contribute towards learning and development, based on their observations. Children also play an important part in planning their own learning.

    Long Term Planning 

    The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Development Matters Guidance details the development matters which are adhered to. In our school we have themes appropriate to our cohort of children and the community to which they belong, these are reviewed annually. Continuous provision plans also form the basis of long term planning.

    Medium Term Planning 

    Planning can run for a few weeks, month or half termly and is based on the needs and interests of the children for all areas of learning and development. Planning details the proposed development matters to be focused upon gives an overview of possible enhancements to continuous provision, the adult focused activities, resources, display and visits/visitors to school. Often themes are used as a vehicle for delivery.

    Short Term Planning 

    This is written alternate weeks and details adult focused and child-initiated learning experiences. It outlines the elements of development, effective learning for children and details prompts for staff linked to observation as well as key language/questions and resources. 

    Evaluations and next steps determine our planning for subsequent weeks. Where appropriate, reference will be made on short term planning for children with Special Educational Needs or disability linked to their SEN Outcomes Plan, EHC and Individual Learning PLan Personal Education Plan (PEP) or for children we care for (CWCF) linked to their Personal Education Plan (PEP) where appropriate.


    Staff’s  on-going  assessments form the basis for gathering holistic information on pupil progress. This information is analysed termly and therefore highlights areas for future development. We also work with parents during the year to promote ‘School Readiness’ which focuses on some basic skills and emotional readiness to learn in a primary school environment.

    The Learning Environment

    A high quality environment is key to success. It is the shared responsibility of staff and children to care for the environment both indoors and outdoors. Staff take pride in developing areas of continuous provision and displays which enhance and broaden opportunities.

    The EYFS learning environment is organised to allow children to explore and learn securely and safely indoors and outdoors. There are areas where the children can be active, be quiet and rest. The environment is organised into continuous provision areas, where children are able to find and locate equipment and resources independently. Our outdoors provision offers opportunities for doing things in different ways and on different scales than when indoors. It offers our children the opportunity to explore, use their senses and be physically active and exuberant.  

    Learning and Development – Characteristics of Effective Learning

    Play and Exploration

    At Wheatley Nursery School we recognise that children learn and develop in different ways and at different rates. They develop their skills through a variety of processes. These include:

    • Investigation
    • Experimentation
    • Listening
    • Observing
    • Talking and discussing
    • Asking questions
    • Practical exploration and role play
    • Retrieving information
    • Imagining
    • Repetition 
    • Problem solving
    • Making choices and decision-making
    • Making predictions

    We use the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ to shape our practices; in observing, interacting and planning provision. We provide opportunities for children to become engaged, motivated and to think critically.

    Through play our children explore and develop learning experiences, which help them make sense of the world. They practice and build up ideas, and learn how to control their behaviour and understand the need for rules. They have the opportunity to think creatively alongside other children as well as on their own. They communicate with others as they investigate and solve problems. They can express fears or re-live anxious experiences in controlled and safe situations.

    Active learning occurs when children are motivated and interested. This happens best when children have some independence and control over their learning. As children develop their confidence they learn to make decisions. It provides our children with a sense of satisfaction as they take ownership of their learning. Children’s learning is extended through accessing resources freely and being allowed to move them around our school.

    Children are given the opportunity to be creative through all areas of learning and development, not just through the arts. Staff support children’s thinking and help them to make connections by showing genuine interest, offering encouragement, clarifying ideas and asking open- ended questions. 

    Areas of Learning and Development

    Prime areas:

    1. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
    2. Communication and Language 
    3. Physical Development

    specific  areas:

    1. Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy 
    2. Literacy
    3. Understanding of the World
    4. Expressive Arts and Design

    None of these areas can be delivered in isolation from the others. They are equally important and depend on each other. All areas are delivered through a balance of adult focused and child initiated activities. In each of the 7 areas there are Early Learning Goals (ELG’s) that define the expectations for most children to reach by the end of the EYFS (end of the reception year). We plan our intentions, implement and review the impact as part of our two weekly planning cycles. Each cohort of children may have very different needs and we plan according to that need, having high aspirations for all children. 

    Children are taught how to use all resources safely through focused activities. The adult’s role within continuous provision areas encourages our children to interact with resources and the environment with care and respect; and with regard for health and safety. We offer a range of resources both natural and man-made. We have a range of multi-sensory, multicultural and non-stereotypical resources which are reviewed and replenished regularly.

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