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Early Years Foundation Stage

Our curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, both from previous settings and their experiences at home. We work in partnership with parents, carers and other settings to provide the best possible start at Bridgewater Primary School, ensuring everyone makes good progress from their various starting points.

Our curriculum has been designed to enable children to succeed through cooperative and collaborative learning principles. As such, there is a strong emphasis on the Prime Areas of learning; Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Communication and Language, including oracy.

At Bridgewater Primary School, we recognise that oracy not only improves academic outcomes, but is a life skill to ensure success beyond school, in life and future employment. Oracy develops children’s thinking and understanding, which in turn promotes self-confidence, resilience and empathy which support the child’s well-being. Our enabling environments and warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration right from the start.

We believe that high level engagement ensures high level attainment. We therefore provide an engaging curriculum that maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking. We follow children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school.

By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their starting points are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1.

Within the Early Phase the development of a holistic learner is recognised based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to our school values of Respect, Responsibility and Resilience.

At Bridgewater we believe that children in the Early Phase are learning when they: -

  • Collaborate and learn from one another through shared experiences.
  • Are supported to set their own challenges in their physical environment and in their learning.
  • Access resources independently.
  • Use their senses to explore and investigate.
  • Develop persistence and positive attitudes to learning as detailed in the Characteristics of Effective Learning.

We provide carefully planned curriculum which aims for all children to achieve the Early Learning Goals by the end of the EYFS. Our teaching approaches across the Early Phase include creating adult and child-initiated opportunities that will encourage children to explore, create, investigate, rehearse, practise, repeat and discover.

Through a comprehensive induction programme from home to Nursery and/or from a child’s Nursery setting to Reception we ensure prior learning and development is valued and the transition into School is supported. We encourage cross-curricular links to ensure a seamless transition into Key Stage One by building on previous experiences and planning those for the future.

Early Phase staff provide inspiration for learning through high quality texts and foundation subject specific teaching, whilst providing the flexibility for children to follow their own interests and ideas. The children’s interests are carefully observed and enhanced through adult interactions and activities in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas. Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities.

In Reception the timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching during the day. The timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children. These sessions are followed by small, focused group work. This means the teacher can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.


Through play children explore and develop learning experiences, which help them make sense of the world. They practise and build up ideas, learn how to control themselves and understand the need for rules thereby developing emotional resilience and self-regulation. As they play children have the opportunity to think creatively, and problem solve alongside others. They express fears or relive anxious experiences in controlled and safe situations as well as re-enact positive experiences building self-awareness and self-esteem.

Children across nursery and reception are provided with valuable time to engage in ‘exploration play’. A variety of experiences are carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. Alongside these experiences we are keen to develop the children’s Characteristics of Effective Learning. Our provision shows awareness of the different ways and rates by which children develop and learn; that there are many factors affecting achievement including ability, emotional state, age and maturity, and how this informs teaching strategies.

English / Literacy

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and our priority is to encourage a love of reading right from the start. In Reception we have a reading spine of carefully selected books matched to the ‘Sounds Write’ phonics scheme. Alongside this the aim is to expose children to a range of books that not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their oracy, vocabulary and comprehension. These books will be embedded in our provision through activities, story sessions and on display for children to access independently. Through this, children begin to internalise new vocabulary, language patterns and begin to retell stories. Children enjoy weekly visits to the well-resourced library.

Reading is linked to the development of writing, starting with oral storytelling and mark making. Writing skills are taught explicitly and embedded via focussed groups and developed through meaningful opportunities across the continuous provision.


We follow the Sounds Write programme to ensure consistency across the school. In Nursery children focus on listening for sounds in the environment, rhyme, pattern and alliteration which concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for beginning the Sounds Write programme. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

In Reception they will develop their initial code knowledge and segmenting and blending skills to decode words.

Children are encouraged to read at home and are heard to read regularly in school. They are given books that match their phonic knowledge for them to apply their learning. This will support them in becoming successful, confident and fluent readers.


In Reception, we follow the White Rose Maths Scheme of work which is divided into 3 weekly units. High quality learning environments and meaningful interactions with adults, support children in developing mathematical thinking and discussion. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives and pictorial structures and representations which are then rehearsed applied and recorded within their own child-led exploration. Children in Reception have daily opportunities to explore mathematical concepts in real life contexts. This develops fluency, revisits key concepts and addresses misconceptions.

In Nursery, children develop a love of maths through games, songs, rhymes, and play using concrete manipulatives. There is a focus on the key counting principles; one to one correspondence, stable order and cardinal principle. Children’s fine manipulative skills are a focus to develop 1-1 correspondence, so children count each object only once.

Wider Curriculum

Our wider curriculum is taught through the learning areas; ‘Understanding of the World’ and ‘Expressive Arts and Design.’ EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s feed into the National Curriculum through our robust planning and CPD opportunities. In reverse, colleagues throughout the school are also aware of the key ELG’s that link to each foundation subject and the progression of the subject.

Planned, comprehensive Forest School sessions are a rich part of the outdoor curriculum across the Early Phase.

Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. For example, building a water way to transport water between two trays enables them to think like a ‘Scientist’ and ‘Engineer’ as they explore a range of resources and test out their own ideas.

Building further on our oracy focus, children will be encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology in foundation subjects, and such vocabulary will be modelled, both verbally and orally, by supporting practitioners.

Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we have a range of additional intervention and support for children who may not be on track or are showing a greater depth of understanding and need further challenge. This includes, for example, sessions for developing speech and language, social skills, fine motor skills, phonics, and mathematics. In addition, children with an EHCP, have bespoke plans that identify targeted learning support within the provision or in small, targeted task 1:1 with an adult.

Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the Early Phase Leader ensure staff develop good subject knowledge. The Early Phase Leader ensures staff receive CPD specific to the EYFS to develop their practice. For example, CPD on effective observations and the role of the adult in the continuous provision, supports staff to understand where pupils are, and their ‘next steps,’ for learning.

During the children’s first half term in the Nursery and Reception classes, the teacher and keyworkers assess each child’s development and learning attainment against the non-statutory criteria set out in Development Matters and the Early Learning Goals. It is also a time for the adults to discover the unique personality and interests of each child.

We make regular summative assessment of children’s learning and use this information to ensure future planning reflects individual or group needs.

Formative assessment in the Foundation Stage is continuous and takes the form of observations added onto Seesaw, examples of child-initiated work and samples of dated work from books. All adults working with the children across the Early Phase keep observational records and use these to record examples of each child’s learning experiences. These records are shared with Year One teachers to ensure a smooth transition.

We have regular termly parents’ meetings take place to ensure parents/carers are informed of their child’s progress and next steps in learning. In F2, in addition to parents’ meetings in the Autumn and Spring terms, parents receive an annual report that offers detailed comments on each child’s progress in each area of learning and their Characteristics of Learning.

Equal Opportunities 

As an inclusive school, we believe that diversity needs to be embraced, celebrated and highlighted, both within the curriculum and through the culture of the school. All children, regardless of gender, culture or disability are given the opportunity to study the curriculum. We acknowledge and plan for the specific needs of all learners. Across the Early Phase this will be achieved by ensuring there are positive, diverse figures represented in texts selected across the curriculum.

We foster and develop relationships between home, school, and places of worship in order to make links stronger for the good of the community as a whole. We also represent all pupils and their families in our setting with a family board.

Children are encouraged to learn to work, share, take turns and co-operate with others. They are encouraged to be independent and make choices for themselves. We celebrate similarities and differences and the rich diversity in our school and community. Bridgewater pupils are also encouraged, from an early age, to be sensitive to the needs of others and to respect other cultures and beliefs. Personal Social and Emotional Development (PSED) is a prime area within the EFYS curriculum and through this, our aim is to ensure that children are enabled to become confident and develop a positive self-image from this early start and continue this throughout their Bridgewater journey.