What is the Foundation Stage

What is the Foundation Stage? 

Cragside's Early Years Foundation Stage Policy is attached below this article.

The Foundation Stage is the period of education for children up to the age of five, ending in the Reception year.  During this stage children work towards the Early Learning Goals.

Children further their understanding by playing, talking, observing, planning, questioning, experimenting, testing, repeating, reflecting and responding to adults and to each other.  Well-planned play which focuses on individual learning is a key way in which children learn with enjoyment and challenge during the foundation stage.  The children in Explorers and Discoverers classes take part in focus weeks, which enables each child to share what motivates their learning and investigative skills.

The Foundation Stage prepares children for learning in Key Stage 1 when National Curriculum programmes are taught in years one and two. 

What are the areas of learning and development?

The Early Learning Goals are divided into seven key areas which are grouped into two categories – prime areas and specific areas.  The prime areas (the first three below) are important as they lay the foundations for children’s success in all other areas of learning and of life.  The specific areas (the later four) provide the range of experiences and opportunities for children to broaden their knowledge and skills.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.
Communication and language
Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.

Physical Development

Involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, understand the importance of keeping safe, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.


Development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest.
Involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.
Understanding of the world
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.
 Expressive art and design
Involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.


The Characteristics of effective learning

In planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice and plan for ways to promote this.

The three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:

• 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; and
• creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

All adults involved with children in the EYFS plan and prepare activities which will promote and develop their skills and abilities in the characteristics of learning.  In the EYFS setting, all pupils have a personal target linked to the characteristics of learning.  These are recorded on the whole class target wall and targets achieved by recording and rewarding with stars and stickers.  Parents and carers are made aware of achievements of their child in the characteristics of learning through Tapestry.