The Early Years

The Curriculum

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards for learning and development for children from birth to five years of age. The Early Years seeks to provide:

Quality and Consistency: At Lakeside we work hard to ensure all children make good progress. We pride ourselves on having an inclusive environment that ensures children are both supported and challenged in their learning.

A Secure Foundation: Our curriculum is planned according to children’s individual curiosities, through core stories, themes, and community needs. We are highly reflective and use observations and interactions to inform future planning.

Partnership Working: As one of our school drivers, community and parent partnership is vital in ensuring all children are provided the right foundation for good progress throughout their school life. We provide a holistic approach to teaching and learning. Working with parents to ensure the environment and learning opportunities not only support your child but challenge them too.

Equality of Opportunity: We aim to provide a safe, caring, and friendly environment for all our children to allow them to learn effectively, improve their life chances and help them to reach their full potential.

There are seven areas of learning. Three of these are seen as the prime focus for healthy development of pre-school aged children. They are seen as the foundations of learning.

Communication and Language
• Listening, Attention and Understanding
• Speaking

The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. At Lakeside we understand the importance of back-and-forth interactions in a child’s language and cognitive development. Our learning environment is language rich, and the team is committed to engaging in high quality interactions. children are given opportunities to experience a language rich environment to develop and extend their vocabulary, to develop confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to become active listeners.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development
• Self-Regulation
• Managing Self
• Building Relationships

Children’s wellbeing and happiness is at the heart of all that we do. At Lakeside we know that the development of PSED is crucial for children to lead happy and healthy lives, and fundamental to their cognitive development. The team are committed in developing positive, warm, and strong relationships with all children. At Lakeside we use Zones of Regulation to support children to manage emotions and develop a sense of self.

Physical Development
• Fine Motor
• Gross Motor

Physical and sensory experiences are vital in developing children’s co-ordination, strength, spatial awareness, agility, balance, stability, and all-round development. At Lakeside, the children have access to the indoor and outdoor environment and a range of resources to support both gross and fine motor development as well as weekly PE sessions.

Alongside these three prime areas, there are four specific areas for learning. These help strengthen and apply the prime areas.

• Comprehension
• Word Reading
• Writing

Children are given access to a wide range of high-quality texts to foster a love of reading. Our curriculum themes are planned through children’s interests and core books. We use a systematic approach to phonics to develop children’s oracy skills, to link sounds and letters and use them to begin to read and write independently. We begin with Letters and Sounds Phase 1 and then progress onto Lesley Clarke’s synthetic phonics scheme. They are given a wide range of writing opportunities linked to texts that they are familiar with or experiences that they have had.

• Number
• Numerical Patterns

At Lakeside we ensure children learn mathematical concepts through practical ‘hands on’ experiences to develop their knowledge and understanding of numbers, counting, calculation, shape, space, and measures. Talk is at the heart of early problem-solving skills, which is essential in children gaining a deep, secure, and adaptable understanding of mathematical concepts.

Understanding the world
• Past and Present
• People, Culture and Communities
• Natural World

Children are given opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and their environment. It is vital to help guide children to make sense of their physical world and their community. It starts with children exploring their own past and present experiences. To help foster curiosity and encourage children to explore similarities and differences in their community, environment and promote exploratory play. To develop a sense of belonging, understand diversity, build self-esteem, respect and responsibility.

Expressive Arts and Design
• Creating with Materials
• Being Imaginative and Expressive

Children are encouraged to explore and use a range of media and materials. They are encouraged to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions through art, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology.

Subject leaders use the EYFS guidance, Development Matters and individual cohort needs to adapt their Progression of Skill documents. We use these to inform our curriculum objectives to set realistic and challenging expectations that meet the needs of all our children. We achieve this through:

• Planning opportunities that build upon and extend children’s knowledge, experience, and interests, and develop their self-esteem and confidence.
• Using a wide range of teaching strategies based on children’s learning needs.
• Providing a wide range of opportunities to motivate and support children and to help them to learn effectively.
• Providing a safe and supportive learning environment in which the contribution of all children is valued.
• Using resources which reflect diversity and are free from discrimination and stereotyping.
• Planning challenging activities for children whose ability and understanding are in advance of their language and communication skills.
• Monitoring children’s progress and taking action to provide support as necessary.

Children are encouraged to be independent, and we have many areas and activities where children can self-select materials and equipment. Through such child-initiated play the children can develop ‘Characteristics of Effective learning’ which include:

• Playing and Exploring
• Active Learning
• Creative and Critical Thinking

Our Curriculum Drivers, Lakeside Learner and School Values are interconnected with the Early Years curriculum. They are fundamental in enabling children to develop life-skill qualities.

We understand that children learn in a holistic way, and we orchestrate the environment to facilitate a community of enquiry. Children are given ample opportunities to act in an autonomous way and encouraged to take a lead in their own learning. However, we know that children need adult instruction to learn new things we ensure that there is a healthy balance. We trust in children’s judgements and actively tune into their passions and interests using them as a vehicle for learning. Our Early Years staff are dynamic and creative in their approaches to delivering the curriculum and strive to offer learning opportunities in meaningful ways that are designed to promote the love of learning! Our Early Years team follow a flexible timetable.

Our Intent

At Lakeside the child is central to all that we do, their happiness and wellbeing is at the heart of our curriculum. Our aim is for all children to be confident communicators, inquisitive, independent, and happy learners. We recognise children’s individual needs and prior learning to create a holistic curriculum that builds strong foundations for the future. The skills and knowledge acquired is underpinned by a strong set of values. Children at Lakeside understand the importance of respect, they are considerate of others and develop social and emotional intelligence.

Throughout their time in the Early Years, the children develop a sense of belonging to our school community and we believe community involvement and parent partnership are key to children’s education. We champion equality and believe every child can make progress. We recognise that all children are unique, and we celebrate differences within our school community. This is achieved through a curriculum that activates children’s natural desire to learn, following their interests and own curiosities. We encourage children to show courage and be aspirational in all that they do.

At Lakeside we know the development of oracy skills is key, not only in academic achievement, but for a child’s social, emotional, and interpersonal skills. We aim for all children to develop a wide vocabulary, to clearly articulate and communicate their needs, wants and ideas. To be able to activate their inquisitive nature and ask questions. At Lakeside we aim for children to acquire the skills and experiences to prepare them for life in an everchanging world. Ensuring they receive high quality and consistency in teaching and learning so that all children make progress.

We understand that children learn in a holistic way, and we orchestrate the environment to facilitate a community of enquiry. Children are given ample opportunities to act in an autonomous way and encouraged to take a lead in their own learning. However, we know that children also need adult instruction to learn, and we ensure that there is a healthy balance between the two. We trust in children’s judgements and actively tune into their passions and interests using them as a vehicle for learning. Our Early Years staff are dynamic and creative in their approach to delivering the curriculum and strive to offer learning opportunities in meaningful ways that are designed to promote the love of learning! Our Early Years team follow a flexible timetable.


Through quality first teaching and a clear sequence of objectives we ensure all children make progress and have appropriate challenge and support in all areas of learning. We use Progression of Skills documents to ensure all children follow a clear sequence of objectives.
All children are recognised as individuals and treated according to their needs. We understand that children learn in a holistic way, and we orchestrate the environment to facilitate a community of enquiry. Children are given ample opportunities to act in an autonomous way and encouraged to take a lead in their own learning.

Child Led Learning “Explore and Learn”

Children have extended periods of time to engage in their own lines of enquiry. Our learning environment is set up to ensure children have access to open ended resources to support learning in all areas of the curriculum. The inside and outside environments have equal importance. During this time children will:

• Access to and engage in open ended resources that support learning in all areas of the curriculum.
• Practice the skills and knowledge acquired in adult directed activities.
• Practice and embed learning behaviours.
• Develop their metacognitive skills and self-regulation.

Adults interact in child led learning to support, scaffold, challenge and extend thinking. Children will have agency over their learning and environment. Helping to develop intrinsic motivation and a love of learning.

Thematic Approach and Adult Directed

Our curriculum is planned around several high-quality texts, which follow a theme and are rich in language. Planning promotes awe and wonder, and offers numerous experiences. Our themes are constantly evolving and developing according to community and cohort needs or interests. Direct teaching is a carefully planned set of objectives according to children’s next steps. Staff teams meet half-termly to use the Progression of Skill documents to plan objectives according to children’s next steps, to further extend current learning or plan new skills or experiences that need to be offered. Some planned activities include:
• Storytime and Grandma Fantastic – Her love of language promotes the development of new words.
• Systematic phonics approach.
• Daily Circle Times.
• Mindfulness – Breathing techniques, yoga, outdoor learning.
• Adult led inputs to teach a new skill.
• Enhancements – Activities available to the children with a clear objective.


At Lakeside, ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. Staff teams will meet daily to evaluate the day’s learning and discuss their observations of the children. In light of this discussion, learning will be adapted for the following day. We work closely with the Inclusion Lead to ensure our curriculum meets the needs of all children. A variety of summative and formative assessment methods are embedded into our practice to ensure that outcome judgements are holistic and focussed on the individual child. Photographs/Videos of children’s learning are shared with parents through an online system called Tapestry. All practitioners have access to Tapestry and are responsible for sharing annotated photographs with parents throughout the year. We encourage parents and/or carers to contribute to their child’s learning journey to feed into the child’s overview of their learning.

Progress Check

When a child is aged between 2 and 3, staff review their progress and provide parents and/or carers with a written summary of the child’s development in the 3 prime areas. This ‘progress check’ highlights the areas in which a child is progressing well and the areas in which additional support is needed.
End of Year Assessment

At the end of their time in Nursery, they will receive a written report against the prime areas of learning, characteristics, and next steps. This ensures that necessary information is passed onto the next setting to build on the child’s knowledge and understanding. Children with additional needs will have a report based around their characteristics of learning alongside their most recent individual support plan/targets. There will also be meetings and discussions with reception class teachers, SENCos, DSLs at primary schools as appropriate


On arrival into our setting the team spend long periods of time interacting and building relationships with all children during their play. These in-depth observations are our baseline, which informs future planning and teaching opportunities. Alongside our internal baseline we complete the Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment.

Focus Children “Learning Detectives”

Each child is a focus child once per term, three times a year, thus resulting in parents having the opportunity to contribute and consult with us. During each child’s focus week, they will noticeably have more observations in their learning journal on which quality interactions and learning experiences are recorded. We encourage the children to share and reflect on their progress, to take ownership of their learning and begin to understand their own targets. At the end of their week as a focus child the team will meet with the parents to discuss progress, achievements, and next steps. Evidence in children’s learning journeys supports all areas of the curriculum.

Partnership with parents and families is vital in building a picture of the whole child. We take pride in the strong and positive relationships we have built with our families, to ensure all children are supported. We encourage families to contribute to their child’s learning journey to share any achievements or progress they have made.

End of Year – Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP)

At the end of the year, we provide a well-rounded picture of your child’s knowledge, understanding and attainment against the Early Learning Goals (ELG). We meet the family to discuss their child’s progress, next steps and support when transitioning to year 1.

An integral aspect of the curriculum is that children are prepared for their future and are beginning to acquire the qualities and skills of a Lakeside Learner. Their individual identity is valued, and our children are kind and caring whilst also promoting high levels of respect for others. From their different starting points, all children will make good progress academically, emotionally, creatively, socially, and physically. Knowledge, understanding and skills will be secured and embedded so that children attain highly and are fully prepared for starting Year 1.


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