Holmgate Primary School and Nursery

The Early Years Curriculum

The Early Years Foundation Stage is a comprehensive framework, setting standards for the learning, development and care of children. It runs from birth to the age of 5 at the end of the reception year at school. 

The EYFS is a distinct stage and it is important both in its own right and in preparing children for later schooling. Young children learn best through 'playing' and 'doing' and the Early Years Foundation Stage offers a broad and purposeful curriculum that is delivered through planned and supported play activities. This  helps to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential and experience the best possible start to their education. The Early Years Foundation Stage is based around four themes as follows.


A Unique Child

Positive Relationships

Enabling Environments

Learning and Development

Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or key person.

The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children's development and learning.

Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of Learning and Development are equally important and interconnected.

 The Early Years Foundation Stage is made up of seven different areas of Learning and Development (three Prime and 4 Specific) and The Characteristics of Effective Learning

 The three prime areas

  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development.                                                                                                     

They are fundamental and develop quickly in response to relationships and experiences. They run through and support learning in all other areas of the curriculum.

The specific areas of learning

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

These areas include essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society and  they develop from the prime areas.

The Characteristics of Effective Learning.

These are the ways in which each child engages with other people and their environment. They underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to become an effective and motivated learner.

  • Playing and Exploring- Engagement
  • Active Learning- Motivation
  • Creating and Thinking Critically- Thinking

Altogether the seven areas and the characteristics make up the skills, knowledge and experiences appropriate for young children as they grow, learn and develop.

During their time in the Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception year) children progress through each area guided by the 'Development Matters in the EYFS' to work towards achieving the Early Learning Goals.  This guidance can be found in the documents at the bottom of this page.

Here at Holmgate Nursery School, both SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development) and the promotion of the fundamentals of British Values, are embedded as part of the curriculum daily. We are relentless in the promotion of 'equality' and inclusive practice and focus on challenging stereotypical behaviour and ways of thinking through the opportunities for play and learning that we provide.

Through our application for the 'Respecting Rights School' award from Unicef, we are working towards embedding throughout our practice and procedures The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. To find out more about our RRS work and other awards, follow this link:

Characteristics of Effective Learning

The Characteristics of Effective Learning and the Prime and Specific Areas of Learning and Development are all interconnected.

‘The ways in which the child engages with other people and their environment – playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.’

The Characteristics of Effective learning support the development of the Unique Child in how children are learning.

3 Characteristics of Effective Learning

Playing and exploring – engagement

  • Finding out and exploring
  • Playing with what they know
  • Being willing to ‘have a go’

Active learning – motivation

  • Being involved and concentrating
  • Keeping trying
  • Enjoying achieving what they set out to do

Creating and thinking critically – thinking

  • Having their own ideas
  • Making links
  • Choosing ways to do things

At Holmgate Nursery School we link all of the learning areas together into fun, meaningful and motivating opportunities for play and learning. A loose overview of themes, festivals, seasonal work and local events form a base layer of planning onto which the practitioners plan and provide opportunities for learning that focus on children's interests and next steps of learning. One of our strengths at Holmgate Nursery School is the adult-child interactions that take place scaffolding and extending children's learning in a personalised and purposeful way. Our highly skilled staff use their expert knowledge and theoretical research to design, plan and implement initiatives and strategies to enhance the experiences of each and every child who comes to our school.