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The Howard Partnership Trust is a growing family of 13 schools in the South East of England. Our family includes Primary, Secondary and Special Schools and welcomes any school that shares our values and commitment to Bringing out the Best in each and every one of our children and young people. Visit website

The Howard Partnership Trust

The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

In Nursery, we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.  Within the Foundation Stage, there are seven areas of learning which are detailed below.  We assess the children in Nursery through observations which are recorded in their learning journey books.

Personal Social and Emotional Development

Personal, social and emotional development focuses on encouraging children to get on with others and make friends.  It also involves developing children’s awareness of their own feelings and the feelings of others, as well as developing their self-confidence and independence. 

What do we look for in Nursery?

  • Friendly behaviour towards others.
  • Continuation of play by children responding to what others are saying or doing.
  • Initiation of play by children offering cues for others to join them.
  • An understanding that some actions and words can hurt others’ feelings.

Communication and Language

This area involves providing the children with opportunities to experience a rich language environment.  It focuses on developing their ability to express themselves, and to speak and listen in a range of situations. 

What do we look for in Nursery?

  • Children listening to others, one to one, or in a small group situation.
  • The ability to understand and follow simple instructions.
  • An understanding of ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.
  • Children beginning to use more complex sentences, using ‘and’ and ‘because’ to link ideas and thoughts.
  • Questioning why things happen.

Physical Development

This area involves providing opportunities for the children to be active in order to develop their co-ordination, control and movement.  It also focuses on encouraging healthy choices and self-care.   

What do we look for in Nursery?

  • The ability to move with confidence, in a range of ways (e.g. jumping, sliding, skipping).
  • The ability to hold a pencil between the thumb and two fingers, copying some letters.
  • Being able to attend to toileting needs independently most of the time.
  • Dressing with some help (e.g. putting arms into the sleeves of a coat, pulling up a zipper once it is fastened at the bottom).


This area focuses on encouraging the children to link sounds and letters, and begin to read and write. 

Literacy in the early years involves talking about books, recognising print in the environment, early mark making, as well as sharing books and reading. 

What do we look for in Nursery?

  • Children listening and joining in with stories and poems, one to one, and also in small group situations.
  • Children suggesting how a story might end.
  • The ability to describe main story events .
  • An awareness of rhyme.
  • An awareness that print carries meaning.
  • Children giving their own meaning to the written marks they make.


What do we look for in Nursery?

  • Children using number names and number language spontaneously.
  • An interest and curiosity of numerals in the environment.
  • The ability to recite numbers in order to 10 and beyond.
  • An awareness of shapes in the environment.
  • An understanding of positional language (e.g. ‘next to’, ‘under’, ‘on top’)

Understanding the World

This area involves enabling the children to make sense of their physical world and community by giving them opportunities to explore and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. 

What do we look for in Nursery?

  • The ability to talk about significant experiences or special events.
  • An awareness of living things in the environment.
  • An understanding of how to operate simple equipment (e.g. remote control).

Expressive Arts and Design

This area focuses on providing children with opportunities to explore and use media and materials.  It also involves encouraging the children to be imaginative and represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings.

What do we look for in Nursery?

  • Joining in with dancing and circle games.
  • Joining in with familiar songs.
  • An interest in the different textures of things.
  • Engagement in imaginative role play, based on first hand experiences.
  • Children building stories around toys.