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The Early Years Foundation Stage

At Orchid Vale, our curriculum is designed with these key aims :

To enable our pupils to leave our school as effective and confident communicators

To provide our pupils with the experiences , skills and knowledge that ensure that the doors of future learning experiences are open and available to them.

To ensure that the learning process promotes questioning, challenge and self-motivation.


When our children arrive with us, they come with a wide range of experiences, skills and beliefs.  The foundations of learning are social and emotional resilience, effective communication and the capacity to learn new skills and knowledge.  The foundation stage is made up of a wealth of experiences and activities that develop the characteristics of effective learning.

The Early Years Foundation Stage

At Orchid Vale Primary School, we are passionate about providing our youngest children with the best possible start, ensuring all Nursery and Reception children are happy and secure. We place importance on the relationship that we have with the children and their parents.

We endeavour to provide a warm, welcoming atmosphere where children are valued and listened to. We value every child for who they are and prepare them for all they can be, ‘nothing but the best’.

We believe that in Early Years, play underpins children’s learning and development. In Nursery and Reception, we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, building on the foundations laid throughout their prior experiences, and preparing children for their transitions into Reception and Year 1. For children moving into Year 1, we will ensure the children are equipped ready to progress on to the National Curriculum.

Our philosophy is that by nurturing children into inquisitive thinkers and independent resilient learners, it will enable them to grow and develop, and fulfil their potential. We have an environment which promotes learning both indoors and out, and a balance of child initiated and teacher led activities. Through exploration and discovery, children make sense of the world around them and develop emotionally, socially, physically and intellectually. Experienced and dedicated staff support the children by having a well-planned daily routine, which includes opportunities for them to work independently or with others, in both child-initiated and adult directed play and learning situations. Staff continuously relate to children’s interests and extend their learning through challenging and skilful questioning.

During the foundation stage, children will begin to formalise their understanding of phonics through a structured programme (Letters and Sounds) that prepares them effectively for the challenges of reading and spelling.  This journey begins with listening to and distinguishing between sounds and then developing their understanding of rhyme and rhythm in stories, poems and songs.  Towards the end of their nursery year and then, as they move into reception, children begin to learn about the relationship between sounds and their written forms.  Children are taught phases 2,3 and 4 of Letters and Sounds during their reception year. 

Our children are told stories and read to daily.  Alongside the mechanics of reading that they learn through their phonics lessons, we want all of our children to develop the sense of awe and wonder that a great book can inspire.  Through books, we are able to take our children to different times and places and experience the world through the eyes of many different characters.

Mathematical skills are taught through a wide range of practical activities which enable our children to gain a solid understanding of the concepts that they will come across in more abstract form as they move through the school.  Children learn mathematical concepts through play, song and rhyme, exploration, physical challenges and visual models.  Our children learn to talk through their maths and mathematical thinking is modelled through simple reasoning problems.

During the foundation stage, our children learn that there is a wide world beyond that which they have experienced.  Through regular forest schools sessions, they experience and respond to the natural environment that we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep. They learn about different ways in which different communities experience different events and through a diverse range of stories, our children learn that there are many different places to live and many different ways to live.  Children are encouraged to talk about their own experiences with the peers and adults in their class.

The foundation stage provides vital, firm foundations upon which the whole learning journey is supported.  The challenges and experiences that children face during these early months are the key to creating the successful scientists, historians, politicians, actors and musicians of the future.


This year, we are following the EYFS reforms early adopter framework. This becomes statutory as of September 2021. We have our revised EYFS curriculum and progression of skills documents to support the implementation on the new framework.

The statutory assessment remains in place for the end of Foundation Stage, with teachers assessing children against Early Learning Goals.

These goals have changed quite significantly and the children will now only be assessed as emerging or expected against these goals. Children achieve GLD, a Good Level of Development if they achieve expected in all of the following areas:


  • PRIME Areas
  • Communication and Language:
    • Listening, Attention and Understanding, Speaking
  • Personal, Social, and Emotional Development:
    • Self-Regulation, Managing Self, Building Relationships
  • Physical Development: 
    • Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills

  • SPECIFIC Areas
  • Literacy:
    • ​Comprehension, Word Reading, Writing
  • Mathematics:
    • Number, Numerical Patterns

We teach a broad and balanced curriculum, following a thematic approach.

Working with Parents

The partnership between school and home is essential at this key stage of the children's learning journey.  To promote discussion about learning experiences, teachers share their observations of the children through a platform called Evidence Me.  Families are also able to contribute to this record of the learning that has taken place throughout the foundation stage.  Seesaw is also used to communicate achievements and challenges. 

Here is a guide to using Evidence Me

Our Community

As a school, we have built relationships with members of our local community.  Our intergenerational project enables our children to talk to residents of the local care home about their learning and to ask questions about when the residents were at school.  During lockdown, we have maintained that relationship by writing letters and sending videos.

Learning Passports

Life experiences are essential for the development of key vocabulary.  Based on the National Trust's 'Things to do before you're 10 3/4'  we issue each child with an experience passport.  Telling their peers and their teachers about their passport experiences is a focused way to develop speaking skills.  

Helicopter Stories

Helicopter Stories are used daily in the EYFS classrooms to develop confidence and vocabulary. The pupil tells a story which is scribed word-for-word by their teacher on one sheet of A5. The storyteller decides which part they would like to play and the class gathers together around the marked out stage. Other pupils are brought in to fulfil parts as story actors and the rest of the group sit and observe as story listeners.


Forest Schools

Our children take part in weekly Forest Schools Activities. Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.

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