The Early Years Foundation Stage

The curriculum for our Reception Children follows the newly revised Development Matters (Non-statutory curriculum guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage) as determined by the Department for Education in September 2021.  Within this Framework, the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning for the children in the Early Years are defined as:

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)

Creating & Thinking Critically ( children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things)

We believe that learning in the Early Years is a crucial foundation for all later education and is in itself an essential stage in each child’s development.  Play is a vital part of the Early Years curriculum and is imperative to children’s development. The Early Years curriculum is planned to ensure that all children are valued as an individual and that every child has a great first experience of playing and learning.

The framework sets out the three prime areas of learning that underpin everything in the early years:

  •  Communication and Language: The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s interactions will be developed through quality conversation in a language-rich environment and new vocabulary will be learnt to ensure children's language is built up effectively. Reading and opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will be given to provide children the opportunity to thrive. Conversation, story-telling and role play will also enable children to become comfortable in using a rich range of vocabulary.
  •  Personal, Social and Emotional Development is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. We will form and build strong, warm and supportive relationships with the children as well as support their interactions with other children so that they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably. The children will be supported to manage emotions, develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own abilities, persist and wait for what they want and direct attention as necessary. PSED will also include healthy eating, and managing personal needs independently.
  •  Physical Development and activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences will be provided to ensure the development of a child’s strength, co-ordination and positional awareness. We will support the children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye co-ordination which is later linked to early literacy.

 The four specific areas help children to strengthen and apply the prime areas:

  •  Literacy is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) and word reading. Language comprehension is developed by talking with children about the world around them and reading a variety of books (stories and non-fiction) including rhymes, poems and songs. Skilled word reading, taught in reception, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
  •  Mathematics is about developing a strong grounding in number, which is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. We endeavor that by the end of reception, children should be able to count confidently, have developed a deep understanding of numbers to 10 and the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding, children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. Rich opportunities will be provided for children to develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’ and not be afraid to make mistakes.
  •  Understanding the World involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. This includes offering them a variety of personal experiences which increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them, including visiting parks and outings to meeting important members of society such as police officers. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world.
  •  Expressive Arts and Design development encompasses children’s artistic and cultural awareness and supports their imagination and creativity. We provide regular opportunities for the children to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.

All of these areas of learning are connected together. The characteristics of effective teaching and learning weave through them all. That’s because children in the Early Years are becoming more powerful learners and thinkers. These characteristics develop as they learn to do new things, acquire new skills, develop socially and emotionally, and become better communicators.

Active Learning through Play

‘Play is the work of the child’                          

At Duxford we understand the importance of play and the motivational force this has on a child’s learning process. Active Learning is the natural way children learn about their environment and develop their own capabilities. It enables them to exercise their imagination and extend their physical abilities, try out new ideas and problem solve. Through active learning children develop social relationships, language, a sense of achievement and increased self-esteem.


In order that our Reception children feel secure when they join Duxford Primary School, they are allocated a Year 6 ‘buddy’. Thus, they immediately have a friendly, helpful and sympathetic face showing them where everything and everybody lives and guiding them through the break and lunch periods. Children also become members of a House Group – Lancasters, Spitfires, Hurricanes or Concordes.  The children take part in many varied activities throughout the year in their House Groups.