Assessment & Learning

Our Curriculum: How The Children Learn and How We Assess

At Grasmere, we deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework as set out by the Department for Education. It sets out:


  • The legal welfare requirements that everyone registered to look after children must follow to keep your child safe and promote their welfare.
  • The 7 areas of learning and development which guide our engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge.
  • Assessments that will tell you about your child’s progress through the EYFS.
  • Expected levels that your child should reach at age 5, usually the end of the reception year; these expectations are called the “Early Learning Goals (ELGs)”.

The EYFS Framework explains how and what your child will be learning to support their healthy development. Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.

For children under 3 years of age the focus is mostly on the 3 prime areas. These are:

  • Communication and language;
  • Physical development; and
  • Personal, social and emotional development.

These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:

  • Literacy;
  • Mathematics;
  • Understanding the world; and
  • Expressive arts and design.

These 7 areas are used to plan your child’s learning and activities. This is a little bit like a curriculum in primary and secondary schools, but it’s suitable for very young children, and it’s designed to be really flexible so that we can follow your child’s unique needs and interests, which is when children learn and develop best. Each strand is further separated out into more specific areas – see attached.

For the first few weeks, our main focus is PSED. Children need to feel happy, secure and settled in nursery for future learning to take place and it is paramount to us that the children feel this way.

Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside. So, when you come into nursery, you may think your children are just ‘playing’. Not so! Our skilled and experienced practitioners set the rooms out thoughtfully and sensitively to encourage the very best learning opportunities to happen, both indoors and out. A large part of the teaching is when the adults then very sensitively intervene in the children’s play to extend their language, concentration, understanding, enjoyment and knowledge.

tad2This is done by introducing new vocabulary, adding in new resources or challenges, asking questions and making suggestions. Staff get to know the children extremely well and seek to utilize the children’s interests wherever possible. They also use their in-depth knowledge of each child to learn when to step in, when to challenge to stretch the children on further and when to offer support. Research shows that children learn best when engaged in well thought out activities that stem from their interests. So, for example, children that enjoy role-play being builders will be given lots of clipboards and pencils to experiment with mark making, large blocks to extend their coordination and physical development, with language being developed all the time, and PSE also, through the encouragement of collaborative play.

Most of our three hours is spent learning through play with the adults alongside the children exploring both themed activities and constant activities. The children have a set story time every day either in similar ability groups or whole classes. This is an opportunity to develop concentration, extend language, learn about books, develop early phonic skills and above all develop a love for stories. We also have a gathering time daily at the end of each session where the focus is on number, shape, and music and movement.

In terms of understanding how well your children are learning, we:

  • observe and assess informally all the time.
  • Formally, we assess the children on entry, and then termly. For children that stay with us for a year, this means that we assess their learning four times in year, using the Early Years Outcomes as set out by the local authority.
  • These more formal measures are completed by looking at the evidence of observations in their Learning Journeys, which you get to keep when they leave and by chatting with the children, but above all by the staff’s in-depth knowledge of the children. Staff work in teams and discuss assessments as a class team to ensure we get a full picture of each child.

The observations that we do can be detailed or may be a quick snap shot jotted down and may be supported by a photograph. By the end of the year, the children have a balance of assessments across the 7 areas of the curriculum. We share rates of progress with you via their Learning Journeys and more formally towards the end of the year. When your child leaves us, we share their assessment summary with their receiving school. However, if at any time you have concerns about your child’s progress please do talk to your child’s keyworker, we are always happy to help and there are many things we can do together to ensure your child is making the best possible progress.

For children with additional needs that may progress at a different rate to their peers, we have a different set of assessments that we use which help to identify the smaller but hopefully steady sets of progress that they make. We also offer 1:1 and small group development opportunities to help children develop in specific areas as identified by parents and class staff.

We produce a range of leaflets with different topics that can identify how you can help your child to learn. These will be available in September. In the meantime, the link below gives you a good overview of the EYFS.

Parents Guide →


Early Years Foundation Stage Framework

Prime areas

Communication & Language:

  • Listening & Attention
  • Understanding
  • Speaking

Physical Development

  • Moving & handling
  • Health & Self-Care

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

  • Self-confidence and self-awareness
  • Managing feelings and behaviours
  • Making relationships

Specific Areas


  • Reading
  • Writing


  • Numbers
  • Space, shape and measures

Understanding the World

  • People and communities
  • The world
  • Technology

Expressive Arts & Design

  • Exploring and using media and materials
  • Being imaginative