Learning and development
The Curriculum

We follow the Early Foundation Stage, which is the statutory framework that sets the minimum standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5 years,.  Through a holistic, play based approach we focus on the development of knowledge and skills through exploration and investigation of children's interests. This is in conjunction with high quality teaching to ensure that all children develop socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually, regardless of their individual starting points. 

An exceptionally stimulating learning environment combined with close attention on the development of the characteristics of effective learning - that is learning to be a great learner, and having a thirst for knowledge, provides the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.

The learning environment at Atherstone Nursery School and Early Years Teaching Centre is made up of the indoor, outdoor and emotional environment. Children’s social and emotional development is as important to us as the knowledge they acquire. Our provision is centred on the children and families and they are at the heart of all that we do.

The Curriculum is everything that the children do, see, hear and feel, planned and unplanned, both indoors and outdoors. This includes the dispositions and attitudes that motivate and inspire their learning.  There are seven areas for learning and development, you can find out more below.

Communication and Language

Communication and Language Development includes giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to learn to speak and listen in a range of situations. We work in three areas: Listening and Attention, Speaking and understanding language 


This area of the curriculum is broken down into reading and writing. We spend time teaching children to understand rhythm and rhyme and to begin to recognise letters and the sounds they make.  Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interests and build understanding. Learning to write starts with making marks and knowing that the marks mean something. Children have many opportunities to build their confidence as 'early writers' across the learning environment.

Understanding the World

This involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. 

Physical Development

Physical Development involves providing opportunities for children to be active and interactive with the people and environment around them. They will develop the skills of co-ordination, control within different   types of movement on a large and small scale.  Children are supported to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.

© Copyright

We plan a range of experiences so that children can begin to make sense of the physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. We make good use of digital tools and media to enhance and extend learning and promote higher order thinking and concept development through acting as partners in play to scaffold new thinking and learning. Children develop confidence using technology and applying this to their learning. Our research is currently focussed upon the use of digital media to enhance learning 

Personal, social and Emotional Development

We work with children to ensure they develop a positive sense of themselves and to form positive relationships and respect for others. It is an important time in which children to develop social skills, learn how to manage their feelings and also to understand the appropriate behaviour for a range of situations. We also build a strong confidence in their own abilities alongside the resilience to to tackle and resolve problems 

Expressive Arts and Design

This area of the curriculum enables children to explore and investigate a wide range of media and materials, (clay, paint, play-dough and mark making tools).

We encourage children to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology. For example learning about light, dark and shadow through the use of torches and overhead projectors

They learn to be imaginative through both role play and interacting with small world resources and in this make sense of the world around them and their early childhood experiences. 

All of the areas of learning in our curriculum are underpinned by developing the characteristics of effective learning in every child:

  • 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 and Thinking Critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing this (EYFS 2014)