The Early Years Foundation Stage

All children from birth through to the end of their reception year in school follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  This is a play based curriculum framework based around  seven areas of learning and development.  All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.

Three prime areas are crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning:

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

There are also four specific areas through which the prime areas are strengthened and applied:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding of the world
  • Expressive arts and design

For further information on these areas of learning and development click on the link here:  Development Matters

The ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’ sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five.  It has four overarching principles:every child is a unique child, children learn to be strong through positive relationships, they learn and develop well in enabling environments and children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. At Ashgate these principles are very important to us as are the key characteristics of teaching and learning which are also outlined. These key characteristics include:

* playing and exploring: children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;

* active learning: children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements;

* creating and thinking critically: children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.

To view the whole document click here:

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We believe that children learn best through play, it is their way of exploring, creating, communicating and developing relationships. In our nursery we provide a varied and exciting learning environment where children can work individually or in small groups for sustained periods of time.  Adults support children’s play by playing alongside them and by observing and reflecting on their play; they can then plan to support and extend their learning and development.

You can also read our:

Ashgate Teaching and Learning policy

Communication & Language policy

Literacy policy

Physical development policy

In setting up the nursery as an ‘enabling environment’ there are a number of areas which we refer to as ‘continuous provision’ – those areas that are often included and which children are able to choose from freely such as block play, sand and water, malleable materials and small word play. You can see how some of these areas link to the prime and specific areas of the EYFS by clicking on this document: CONTINUOUS PROVISION core experiences

Assessing children’s learning

Mary Jane Drummond (1993) described assessment as: ‘the ways in which, in our everyday practice, we observe children’s learning, strive to understand it, and then put our understanding to good use.’ Much of our practice at Ashgate reflects this. Our staff observe children carefully to see what they are interested in, what ideas they are exploring and how they are using what they know. They can then make decisions about what they might provide to extend children’s understanding and challenge their thinking. We have been influenced by the work on learning stories by Margaret Carr (2001) and Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee (2012) who asserted that ‘assessment for learning plays a powerful role in [the] early construction of a learner identity’, and use their understandings of assessment when we gather examples of children’s learning in their portfolios. The portfolios are important because they are shared with children and parents so that everyone contributing to learning can also reflect and have a focus for discussion about that learning. We also use our assessments to track children’s progress as they grow. You can read our full assessment policy by clicking on this link, Ashgate Nursery Assessment policy.