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Outstanding Education and care in your area

The Early Years Foundation Stage

Nurseries in England are required to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old.

Within the learning and development section of the EYFS there are seven areas of learning and development which we use to shape the educational programmes in our nurseries. Whilst all areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected, the framework splits the areas of learning into ‘Prime’ and ‘Specific’ areas.

Prime Areas of Learning and Development

These three areas are particularly crucial for igniting young children’s enthusiasm, curiosity and confidence for learning, as well as developing their capacity to learn about the world around them, to form relationships, be confident communicator and physically thrive. The three prime areas reflect  key skills and capacities that all young children need to support their learning and development. These three areas, are:

• Personal, Social and Emotional Development

• Communication and Language
• Physical development

For our youngest babies, toddlers and children we have a strong focus on the three prime areas, which are the basis for successful learning in the other four specific areas. As children begin to grow in their self-confidence and abilities within the three prime areas the balance will shift positively towards a more equal focus on all prime and specific areas of learning holistically.

Specific Areas of Learning and Development

We also support children in the four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are established and applied. The specific areas are:

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

Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.


The Characteristics of Effective Learning



Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) are a revived element in the current Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). CoEL advocate that in planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn, and then reflect these in their practice. A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment.  Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning identified by the EYFS are:

  • playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;

  • active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and

  • creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

The focus of the CoEL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoEL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence, why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.

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