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Early Years Foundation Stage

Children begin learning with us in our Nursery and Reception classes. From 3- 5 years old, they experience the very best of early year’s education at Buckingham. Our Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a nurturing and stimulating educational setting that values every child’s needs, interests and development. They have space to play, learn and develop the key early learning attitudes and behaviours, whilst being taught and cared for by expert early years’ teachers and practitioners. This gives them the best start in a physical and emotional environment that is safe and inspiring so that they develop curiosity, independence, confidence and early learning knowledge and skills. 

Our Early Years Curriculum is broad, balanced and highly motivating. This encourages our youngest learners to be curious, confident and competent. Through our curriculum and approach, we aim for all children to be ready for Year 1 as they leave Reception. This demands a curriculum that is designed to nurture their confidence and independence, develop their language and social skills and teach the early skills in reading, writing and maths.

Prime Areas act as the foundation for all learning and develop from positive relationships and experiences. They allow children to access all other areas of learning and acquisition of knowledge, skills and understanding.

  • Personal, Social and EmotionalChild holding a magnifying glass
  • Physical Development
  • Communication and Language

Specific Areas provide experiences that broaden children’s knowledge and skills.

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

Assessment in the Early Years

  • Each child’s development and progress is assessed and tracked from when they begin the Nursery class. These assessments are taken from teacher observations and interactions during normal day-to day play activities and interactions. The assessments inform planning where teachers adapt activities to move on a child’s learning as well as planning for longer term goals.
  • When children begin Reception, each child is assessed using the statutory baseline assessment. In the Summer Term of Reception the EYFS Profile is completed for each child. The Profile provides parents and carers, practitioners and teachers with a well- rounded picture of a child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities, their attainment against expected levels, and their readiness for Year 1. Each child’s level of development is assessed against the early learning goals. Teachers assess whether children are meeting expected levels of development, or if they are not yet reaching expected levels (‘emerging’). 

The Child's experience

Understanding how children experience our Early Years provision is crucial to our commitment to establishing positive engagement with our parents and carers and their families. We want our children’s parents and carers to understand and support the curriculum and our approach through the eyes of their child.

Settling and feeling safe

Ensuring every child feels safe and secure coming to Buckingham is our first priority. From there, we can build positive relationships, purposeful learning experiences and strong developmental progression. Safety and security is grown from consistent routines, clear expectations and mutual respect. Therefore, each day, children will experience clearly defined routines and consistency in adult relationships and teaching. Daily routines such as self-registration, timetabled play and independent learning as well as daily, consistency in whole class learning sessions means children settle quickly and develop independence and readiness to learn.

The importance of play 

Play is a crucial part of our early years practise. It allows children to develop and learn both independently and with others. Children need a careful balance of solo, peer-to -peer and adult intervention in play in order to ensure learning takes place. Play can allow for multiple moments of awe and wonder, personal progression and learning experiences that are seeded in children’s enjoyment and personal interests.  Our carefully designed approach holistically ensures that our provision meets the needs of every child. Planning for high quality play-based learning is carefully balanced with adult led learning and guidance. 

Ready for Instruction and adult led learning

Alongside play-based learning we ensure rigorous teaching of early literacy, reading, phonics and numeracy skills is ensured by using proven programmes and methods for learning, appropriate for the early year’s age range. 

Starting in Nursery and developing more fully in Reception, children benefit from teacher-led learning and guidance. Balanced throughout the day, age appropriately, children experience adult led learning during their play and during teacher led learning sessions. These sessions will be in daily phonics, writing and maths as well as topic based learning.


In order to learn, develop and be happy our children need space to grow. Our extensive indoor and outdoor facilities give each child the opportunity to explore, revisit and play in an environment that is specifically tailored to early learners. We prioritise high quality resources, materials and learning aids so that all children have access to quality independent and guided learning experiences. 

Our Approach

We know that high quality early years education has the power to make life changing differences to children. Therefore our approach is clear; stimulate, support and challenge.

  • We care that children settle, feel confident and independent to explore and learn. Teachers prioritise wellbeing and emotional security as they know these lead to good learning and development.
  • We plan a curriculum and learning environment that is rich, broad and inspiring. Each child’s progress and next steps in learning are carefully monitored and supported by highly trained staff.
  • We ensure progression of learning through the early years. We use teacher led learning and independent learning through play to ensure that children’s needs are met and that they are ready for Year 1 and the Key Stage 1 curriculum.

Underpinning our teaching and learning are the principles that:

  • every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
  • children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
  • children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
  • importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early year’s provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

What does learning look like at Buckingham?

At Buckingham, our youngest learners benefit from a nurturing and stimulating environment. Our staff are experts in early year’s provision so that we can ensure the highest quality of education is provided at this critical stage in development. A full curriculum is provided from when the children join us at 3 years old and works on a progress model through Nursery and Reception. Our school’s approach to delivering first-rate early years education ensures that key elements of the curriculum are enhanced so that our children achieve their best. 

Why do we enhance communication, language and literacy learning?

We know that communication, language and literacy are key factors in securing success in the future and therefore we place special emphasis on these areas of development during the early years by providing a language rich environment and curriculum. We invest in the development of communication and language skills alongside personal and social development to ensure these critical factors to making progress are fully developed. 

How do we teach phonics and early reading? 

Phonics and Early Reading are prioritised as areas of learning in Reception. Children benefit from Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme as well as a rich diet of literacy based learning, shared and home reading experiences to develop a pleasure and competency in reading.

Why do we prioritise personal, social and emotional development?

We prioritise the happiness and wellbeing of our children. This approach is based on the knowledge that children learn and develop faster when they are happy and secure. Our classrooms and use of the outdoors ensure that children settle quickly and build positive relationships with our staff. Teachers and supporting adults, are trained and skilled in providing an emotionally supportive environment. We work towards excellent social and personal skills, high self-esteem and emotional literacy with all our children.