The Early Years Foundation Stage begins at birth and continues until the end of the Reception year. At Braithwaite School we welcome children to the school from the age of 3.  The curriculum for the Foundation Stage underpins all future learning by supporting, fostering, promoting and developing children’s:

  • Personal, social and emotional well-being
  • Positive attitudes towards learning
  • Social skills
  • Attention skills and persistence
  • Language and communication
  • Reading and writing
  • Mathematics and reasoning skills
  • Knowledge and understanding of the world
  • Physical development
  • Creative development


Throughout the Foundation Stage, the children work towards a range of early learning goals in seven areas:

Personal, social and emotional development:

Children learn how to understand their own feelings and those of others through strong relationships with peers and adults. They are supported to manage their own emotions and develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals and have confidence in their own abilities.  Children learn to persist, wait for what they want an direct attention as necessary.

This area of learning also includes learning how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and to manage personal needs independently.

Communication and language:

Children form the foundations for language and cognitive development by learning in a language-rich environment where practitioners build on the children's language effectively.  They are frequently read to and are encouraged to actively engage in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems.  Extensive opportunities are provided to use and embed new words in a range of contexts.


Pupils are actively encouraged to develop a life-long love of reading.  Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading.  Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) is promoted through quality discussions with the adults about the world around them and the books they read with them, and when they enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together.  Pupils will progress to be able to speedily work out the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words.  Writing involves the children learning strategies to spell, compose and write sentences.

Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy:

Children will be able to count confidently, developing a deep understanding of the numbers to 10.  They will understand the relationships between numbers and the patterns within those numbers.  Opportunities to develop this learning will include using equipment such as small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting.  This area of learning also includes the pupils having opportunities to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures.

Knowledge and understanding of the world:

Moving on from the children's personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them - from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters.  Books are also used to help children develop their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world.

Physical development:

Pupils will have sensory exploration opportunities to develop co-ordination and positional awareness. Games and learning opportunities will take place both indoors and outdoors when adults will support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility.  Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being.  Fine motor control skills and precision helps with hand-eye coordination.

Expressive arts and design:

Developing children's artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity.  Pupils are provided with regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials.

The Importance of Play

Young children are active learners and they learn through their play. Play is crucial to the young child as it provides many of the experiences necessary for the child’s healthy intellectual, physical, emotional and social development. It allows the child freedom to explore and make sense of his or her ever-changing world, to solve problems, to set new challenges and to follow their natural curiosity.

The curriculum in our Early Years Foundation Class is play based. Some activities are done independently and in others children work with an adult on a specific task. Each child has the opportunity to choose from a range of options and to work in small and large groups.  In our setting we refer to the 'play' element of learning as 'Continuous Provision'.  

In addition to play based activities our Reception pupils take part in a structured interactive phonics programme, Read Write Inc, to rapidly develop early literacy skills and follow White Rose maths to help develop and embed the key numeracy principles.  As the year progresses, Reception children are involved in more structured activities as they start to work towards a Literacy and Numeracy lesson in preparation for Key Stage 1.

Outdoor Learning

Our outdoor play area provides a safe environment for a range of learning opportunities.  The outdoor curriculum is an extension of the indoor one and forms an integral part of the daily routine. We have a safe, enclosed play area for our Foundation Stage children which includes a zone for wheeled vehicles, a sand pit, mud-kitchen, digging pit and small sheds containing other resources for construction, water, gardening and mark-making.  Both Nursery and Reception children spend some time outside each day. We also explore and make use of the rest of the school grounds, including the play facilities on our field, as well as taking children out in to the local community to visit places such as the local library and fire station and to woods and fields.  Every child in the school also takes part in a weekly two-hour Forest Schools session with qualified leaders on the school site.