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Early Years Foundation Stage at Gardners Lane

Transition from Nursery to Gardners Lane Primary School

The EYFS team in the nursery and school work closely together to enable the children to transition into their Reception year at Gardners Lane. The nursery are invited to the Christmas reception performance during the Autumn term. During the Spring term the nursery children and staff and the reception children and staff share a short session twice a week. This enables the reception staff to get to know the nursery children and the nursery staff to catch up with this year’s reception children. During the summer term the nursery children visit the reception classrooms and outside spaces and the reception staff visit the nursery to spend some time with the children who will be beginning their Reception year in September. The nursery staff and school staff work together to create the smoothest transition possible for the children and parents.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. Early Years learning concentrates on the 7 areas of learning, split between prime and specific areas of learning:

Prime areas:
∙ Personal, social and emotional development
∙ Communication and language
∙ Physical development

Specific areas:
∙ Literacy
∙ Mathematics
∙ Understanding the world
∙ Expressive arts and design

The reception classrooms at Gardners Lane have a variety of free choice provision and areas for the children to access. They are led by experienced teachers and are supported by a team of skilled learning support assistants. Staff are organised to support the children in a balance of adult-led and child -initiated experiences throughout the day and the children have free flow access to outdoor learning and provision. The experienced team plans a variety of exciting learning opportunities each day, we also take planned learning into play as well as responding to unplanned themes or topics that interest the children. We aim to provide a curriculum that is flexible and responsive so we can respond to the needs and interests of each cohort.

Enabling Environment

The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning. Enabling environments encourage young children to play because they feel relaxed and comfortable. When children feel emotionally safe and secure they are able to explore and find out about the place they are in and the things they can see, touch, manoeuvre or manipulate. The emotional environment, the outdoor environment, the indoor environment are three aspects of the environment which together make up the environment for play and learning in the EYFS.

The Emotional Environment

The environment is more than physical space because it contains the emotions of the children who spend time in it, the staff that work there and the parents who leave their children there. The emotional environment is an invisible measure of ‘feelings’. Maintaining positive feelings is important for staff, children and parents, but equally if they feel safe in the emotional environment children can express their feelings safely, knowing that staff are nearby to help them if they feel overwhelmed by these. Teaching children ways to talk about and express their feelings allows them to externalise them safely, rather than to cover them up and leave them hidden away. Feelings which are expressed in safety are far easier to deal with than those which are left unresolved.

The Indoor Environment

Rich environments indoors have an immediate effect on the quality of children’s learning and development.   At Gardners Lane the classroom environment is attractive to ensure children feel safe and secure and happy to be there. They are places where children can confidently play and learn. Indoor space is carefully planned as it needs to be flexible to accommodate children’s changing interests and needs. Resources such as blocks for building with, felt pens, chalks or pencils for mark-making, clothes for dressing up in and small items such as cars, dolls and jigsaws should be accessible by children themselves.

The Outdoor Environment

Children gain enormous benefits from learning outdoor. Being outdoors allows them to move around without many of the restrictions of being inside. They can fill their lungs with clean air and use all of their senses to appreciate the colours, different noises, the sense of space and of scale. Being outdoors supports confidence and allows opportunities for big scale play, problem-solving and creativity in the company of other children. Physical activity is enhanced. So is calculated risk taking. In the outdoors, children’s use of language is five times greater than indoors.  The outdoors supports active learning and when balanced with quiet areas for reflection can really enhance children’s learning.


In our reception classes at Gardners Lane School, we aim to provide a high quality EYFS education giving children a secure and confident start to their school life. We are committed to nurturing a lifelong love of learning alongside the aims of the EYFS statutory framework. We strive for high standards. We consider and respect the development of the whole child, seek to nurture them and foster resilience and independence. We understand the crucial role that ‘play’ provides and how it is vital for children’s development. We weave the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ throughout our practice and we are inclusive and welcoming to all. Positive whole school values are embedded in all that we do. We aim to provide the essential knowledge that children need to prepare them for their future success. To do this we plan our curriculum so that it can:

  • Broaden minds and children’s outlook on life
  • Provide experiences beyond the classroom.
  • Reduce disadvantage
  • Consider children’s backgrounds and experiences
  • Provide children opportunities to develop their sense of wellbeing and ability to regulate their feelings.
  • Develop knowledge, skills and understanding that is ambitious and prepares them for their next phase of learning.

Implementation (Play, Scaffolding, Modelling and Directed Teaching)

How do we teach children in EYFS?

In our classrooms, you may see children playing alone or with their peers, deciding on resources and choosing how to spend their time. You may see a child playing and listening to an adult, who is modelling how to achieve something or teaching a new skill.

Adults may scaffold children’s play. This involves taking their play to higher levels of learning, entering the play as a co-creator, and helping to provoke a framework for the children to go from “What they know” to “what else they could know.” Scaffolding enables a child to solve problems, carry out tasks or achieve a goal which is just beyond their capabilities. During play, where foundational social and emotional skills are developed scaffolding is a bridge to new skill levels using three key ingredients: 

  • modelling the skill, 
  • giving clues and asking questions and being inquisitive while acquiring the new skill  
  • as the child approaches mastery, withdrawing the support. 

At Gardners Lane School the EYFS team work closely together to plan what we want our children to learn. We decide what this may look like in our classrooms, through our provision and the most effective ways to teach it. Each day we stimulate the children’s interests, respond to each child’s emerging needs, and guide their development through warm, positive and genuine interactions coupled with secure routines for play and learning. As children grow older and develop their skills throughout their reception year, we use more direct teaching and modelling and plan specific sequences of lessons. These strategies help us to focus on teaching the essential skills and knowledge in specific areas of learning so that children develop the skills and confidence required for the end of their reception year and beyond.

Planning in the EYFS

Our planning focuses on the children’s needs, their interests, and their stages of development. We seek opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and to make links between areas of learning and plan next steps accordingly. We deliver the curriculum through a mixture of continuous and enhanced provision, ‘In the Moment Planning’ as well as adult directed-learning to enable the children to build on what they already know. In class the children may be taught as a whole class, in their year group, in small groups or as individuals to ensure that all children are progressing.

Effective Teaching and Learning

It is our job to open minds and try new possibilities. We believe that learning should be endless. We develop children’s curiosity and encourage inquisitiveness and a hunger for learning and find ways to answer many of the children’s on-going questions.

We provide a challenging, exciting, and attractive learning environment that offers high-quality opportunities for the children to learn through play within the classroom and outside. Both classes have continuous provision that is designed to offer practical, open-ended learning opportunities where children are enabled to think creatively and imaginatively. The children are supported to explore how resources can be adapted and use skills in a variety of contexts. We develop problem solving skills through open ended tasks and resources and always encourage a sustained shared thinking approach where ideas are shared and challenged. 

Working in Partnership with Parents

We value the contribution that our parents and carers make to their child’s learning and take every opportunity to work in collaboration with them. During the term before the children start school, they are invited with their parents to come into school for stay and play sessions. This is where we begin to develop the trusting and secure relationships with the children which will continue to grow throughout their reception year and beyond.  Parents are also invited to attend a parent and teacher meeting where parents have the opportunity to share concerns and any preferences. In this way, we gather as much information as we can before children start at our school. Within the first half term, parents are invited to a class share session, where they join their children in free flow, self-chosen play in our classrooms and outside area. During the year we hold class share sessions where parents are invited across the school to explore learning in more detail. In the Autumn terms we hold parents’ consultations and in the summer term we send home detailed reports. We have a performance at Christmas to which parents are invited.

Early Reading

Early reading and the development of vocabulary are at the heart of our curriculum. Our phonics scheme ‘Little Wandle’ ensures children learn to read in a systematic way.

Why learning to read is so important

  • Reading is essential for all subject areas and improves life chances.
  • Positive attitudes to reading and choosing to read have academic, social and emotional benefits for children.

How children learn to read

  • Phonics is the only route to decoding.
  • Learning to say the phonic sounds.
  • By blending phonic sounds to read words.
  • Increasing the child’s fluency in reading sounds, words and books.

Reading fully decodable books

  • Children must read books consistent with their phonic knowledge.
  • It is essential not to use other strategies to work out words (including guessing words, deducing meaning from pictures, grammar, context clues or whole word recognition).
  • Books must be fully decodable and follow the Little Wandle scheme
  • Children need to read books in a progressive sequence until they can decode unfamiliar words confidently.

The role of Parents’ and Carers’

  • Have a positive impact on their child’s reading.
  • Should model the importance of reading practice to develop fluency.
  • Children take home books they have read at school to re-read at home to build fluency.
  • There are two different types of books that pupils bring home: reading practice and books to share for pleasure.
  • Reading at home encourages a love of books, along with developing vocabulary and discussion.
  • Parents should use voices, expression, discuss unfamiliar vocabulary, talk about the pictures, and predict what might happen next.
  • Give positive yet informative feedback in the home reading diary at least 3 times a week

Supporting your child with reading

Although your child will be taught to read at school, you can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing their practice at home.

There are two types of reading book that your child may bring home:

A reading practice book: This will be at the correct phonic stage for your child. They should be able to read this fluently and independently.

A sharing book: Your child will not be able to read this on their own. This book is for you both to read and enjoy together. This enables their passion for reading to soar and give them a love of reading that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Reading practice book

This book has been carefully matched to your child’s current reading level. If your child is reading it with little help, please don’t worry that it’s too easy – your child needs to develop fluency and confidence in reading.

Listen to them read the book. Remember to give them lots of praise – celebrate their success! If they can’t read a word, read it to them. After they have finished, talk about the book together.

Sharing book

In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together.

Please remember that you shouldn’t expect your child to read this alone. Read it to or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a non-fiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!

So how do we do it?

  • When we timetable phonics in reception
  • All children in reception participate in a daily phonics lessons, usually in the morning. All children no matter their attainment level are included in the lessons and we use ‘Keep Up’ interventions to make sure no child falls behind.
  • When we timetable reading groups and what they involve (i.e. decoding, prosody & Comprehension)

In Reception we timetable Reading Practise Groups three times a week. Each group, of up to 6 children, spends 20 mins with a trained adult exploring how to decode the book in the first sessions, how to read with fluency and expression in the Prosody sessions and finally checking their understanding of the text in the Comprehension sessions. To meet the demands of the new programme we have invested heavily as a school in the matching Harper Collins reading books for both the main Little Wandle. This means all children are given books that match their phonic ability and enable them to be successful at reading, in turn developing their love of reading for pleasure.

Community Links and the Wider World

We arrange trips within the local community, for example the theatre and the Chapel at the University of Gloucestershire. Parents are always welcome to support us with these activities. We have visitors who share their experiences and skills with the children. We will arrange a trip to a working farm in the summer term. We have an outing (TBA) to celebrate our friendships and to spend time together.

We encourage the children to support local and national charities that have special links with our school and our community. This provides opportunities for reflection and discussion and gives our children a voice when topics can be hard to absorb or understand.

Film clips, non-fiction texts and artefacts are also used to introduce new concepts in real-life contexts. We aim to develop children’s awareness of other cultures by exploring different countries and celebrations through our learning themes, Religious Education and the people within our own community.

Observation and Assessment

In Reception, the team uses a range of strategies to gather information about the children’s learning and development. We use observation as our main form of assessment.  The children’s learning is monitored and evidenced through a range of resources; photographs, notes, insight pupil tracking system, as well as on Little Wandle’s phonics tracker.  Teachers constantly use their professional judgement to decide what a child is achieving and what they need to do next. The staff observe and interact with the children while they play and learn. We model, guide and support the children, assessing their progress using professional judgements, group discussion and the non-statutory frameworks of ‘Development Matters’ published in 2021.

During the first few weeks of the Autumn Term the class teacher completes the statutory Reception Baseline Assessment to assess communication and language, literacy and maths. In addition, we assess all areas of learning to develop a comprehensive, personal and holistic outline of each child. This allows for learning opportunities to be pitched appropriately and adds to our increasing depth of knowledge of the children. In the Summer term, class teachers review the Early Learning Goals – known as the ELGs. An EYFS profile is made to decide whether each child is working below or at expected levels. Judgements against the ELGs are based on observations, evidence in books and discussions with all staff involved with the child. Class teachers make sure that their judgements are correct by taking part in moderation with other local schools. The results of the profile are shared with parents and carers via an end of year report. After this, there is an opportunity to meet with the class teacher to discuss it. The EYFS profile results are reported to the local authority, who monitor and moderate the judgements made.


The impact of the EYFS curriculum is reflected in our children, they are well rounded, inquisitive, happy and confident. With the successful implementation of both our enriched and balanced curriculum and our well thought out, safe, and challenging learning environment, both indoors and outdoors, our children develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that enable them to become successful learners. Our children are encouraged to be actively engaged in learning and their enjoyment of this learning is apparent to all.  All our children experience a curriculum that provides exciting and enriching learning opportunities.

They develop their ‘Characteristics of Learning’ and are able to apply their knowledge to a range of situations making links and explaining their ideas and understanding. They are confident to take risks and discuss their successes and choices with adults drawing on their experiences to improve or adjust what they are doing. The children at Gardners Lane School are skilful at solving problems and they have effectively developed their personal levels of resilience and independent learning skills. We help children to make sense of the world around them, to develop tolerance, compassion and an understanding of their rights and the rights of others in an ever changing world. 

At the end of reception the children have developed essential knowledge and skills required for everyday life and lifelong learning. They transition into Year 1 with key knowledge and overarching concepts to enable them to access the requirements of the National Curriculum. The impact of our curriculum is shown in the percentage of children achieving a Good Level of Development at the end of the year compared to those who enter reception with a GLD judgement.  Our children reach our endpoints identified through our carefully planned curriculum offer for all seven areas of learning. The teaching and pedagogy are reviewed and evaluated regularly through meetings with all staff and are monitored by the EYFS Lead/Coordinator.

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