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Early Years Curriculum

Harbinger EYFS med res-78.jpg

Learning in the Early Years

'High-quality Early Years education, with a strong focus on communication, is good for every child. It is especially positive for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Early Years are the crucial years for making a difference. The Early Years is about how children learn, as well as what they learn. Children need opportunities to develop their own play and independent exploration. This is enjoyable and motivating. They also need adults to ‘scaffold’ their learning by giving them just enough help to achieve something they could not do independently. Helping children to think, discuss and plan ahead is important, like gathering the materials they need to make a den before they start building. These are ways of helping children to develop the characteristics of effective learning.'

Development Matters, non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage (July 2021)

We believe that children go through stages of learning before it is truly embedded:

  1. Shallow learning

  2. Deep learning

  3. Profound learning

Learning happens when children have to think hard, have opportunities for reasoning and explain their thinking (moving from deep learning to profound learning). Once children learn a skill or knowledge, they need to revisit and revise constantly to ‘connect’ and refer to it.

Children are exposed to a mastery curriculum.  They experience it, play with it, use it, develop it, and connect with it.

Children benefit from starting points to learning which inspire and motivate. If a memorable task was linked to the learning, children will more likely be able to remember it, consolidate it and master it. Staff in the Early Years at Harbinger skilfully plan inspirational hooks for learning to excite and motivate pupils based on current theme, or interests of learners.

Enabling Environments

At Harbinger, our Nursery and Reception provision is set up so that children can lead their own learning experiences. They are responsible for selecting their resources and pursuing their interests until they reach a satisfactory conclusion. There is a balance of adult-led and child-initiated learning experiences. Provision across all areas of learning is planned precisely. Continuous provision is regularly reviewed and enhancements are added to challenge and excite. It is based on rigorous and sharply focused assessments of children’s achievements so that every child undertakes highly challenging activities over time.

Communication and Language

Communication and Language is the golden thread that runs throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) at Harbinger school. Staff have high expectations of children’s language through everyday encounters, providing structures to practice and rehearse language in different contexts. Children learn to retell a range of nursery rhymes and stories which enhance their language development.


Reading and Phonics

Our intent at Harbinger is for all Nursery children to show a passion for reading books and talking about stories. They will enjoy listening to longer stories and remember much of what happens. They will know many rhymes, be able to talk about familiar books, and be able to tell a long story.

For Reception children, they will: demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary; anticipate, where appropriate, key events in stories; use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role-play.

For word reading, they will: say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs; read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending; read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.

Reading in Nursery

Nursery children will have opportunities for:

  • Daily story time

  • Reading opportunities during 'learn and explore' time

  • Beautiful book corners

  • Fiction books to support learning in different areas

  • Year 6 reading buddies

  • Parent volunteers focusing on reading with children

  • Parent workshops to ensure home support with reading

  • Structured phonics sessions from Spring 1

Reading in Reception

Reception children will have opportunities for:

  • Weekly shared reading sessions

  • Daily Phonics sessions

  • Daily early bird work relating to reading and writing

  • Daily story time

  • Daily Supported Reading twice per week from Spring 1

  • Reading opportunities during 'learn and explore time'

  • Beautiful book corners

  • Fiction books to support learning in different areas

  • Parent workshops to ensure home support with reading

  • Home learning, including weekly reading packs, and Bug club



Children will have the opportunity to learn early Mathematical knowledge and skills from Nursery onwards in a practical, concrete and fun way.

'Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting - children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of Mathematics, including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.'

Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage - setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five (March 2021)

Both Nursery and Reception children have a daily structured Maths session. The expectation is that the children have the opportunity to rehearse, reinforce and apply this learning during their 'learning and explore time' ('free flow').


'When we give every child the best start in their early years, we give them what they need today. We also set them up with every chance of success tomorrow.'

Development Matters, non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage (July 2021)

"In early years, children are highly motivated and demonstrate high levels of self-control.."

- Ofsted, 2023

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