The Early Years Foundation Stage

Provision for the development and learning of children from birth to 5 years is guided by the Early Years Foundation Stage. Acorn’s provision reflects the four overarching principles of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (DfE 2021):


  • A Unique Child

Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.


  • Positive Relationships

Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.


  • Enabling Environments

Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners, parents and carers.


  • Learning and Development

Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision including children with special educational needs and disabilities.


How we provide for development and learning

Children start to learn about the world around them from the moment they are born. The care and education offered by Acorn helps children to continue to do this by providing all the children with interesting activities that are appropriate for their age and stage of development.


The Areas of Development and Learning comprise:

  • Prime Areas

  • Personal, social and emotional development.

  • Physical development.

  • Communication and language.


  • Specific Areas

  • Literacy.

  • Mathematics.

  • Understanding the world.

  • Expressive arts and design.


For each area, the level of progress that children are expected to have attained by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage is defined by the Early Learning Goals. These goals state what it is expected that children will know, and be able to do, by the end of the reception year of their education.


We refer to not-statutory curriculum guidance to support our professional judgement as we assess each child's progress and level of development as they progress towards the Early Learning Goals. We have regard to these when we assess children and plan for their learning by creating a curriculum that is ambitious and meets every child's needs. Our educational programmes support children to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding they need for:

Personal, social and emotional development

  • self regulation

  • managing self 

  • building relationships


Physical development

  • gross motor skills

  • fine motor skills


Communication and language

  • listening, attention and understanding

  • speaking



  • comprehension 

  • word reading 

  • writing


  • number

  • numerical patterns


Understanding the world

  • past and present

  • people, culture and communities

  • the natural world


Expressive arts and design

  • creating with materials

  • being imaginative and expressive


Our approach to learning and development and assessment

Learning through play

Being active and playing supports young children’s learning and development through doing and talking. This is how children learn to think about and understand the world around them. We use the EYFS statutory education programmes to plan and provide opportunities which will help children to make progress in all areas of learning. This programme is made up of a mixture of activities that children plan and organise for themselves and activities planned and led by practitioners.


Characteristics of effective learning

Acorn understands that all children engage with other people and their environment through the characteristics of effective learning that are described in the Early Years Foundation Stage as:

  • playing and exploring - engagement

  • active learning - motivation

  • creating and thinking critically - thinking.

Acorn aims to provide for the characteristics of effective learning by observing how a child is learning and being clear about what Acorn can do and provide in order to support each child to remain an effective and motivated learner.