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Damson Wood Nursery and Infant School

‘Learning and Growing Together’

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Early Years

At Damson Wood, Our Early Years team strive to provide an environment where children feel safe, happy, supported and secure. We consider each child’s interests and developmental needs so that they are ready to learn and thrive. We believe that children also learn best when they are actively engaged in a broad range of memorable learning experiences which promote creativity, independence and enjoyment. Throughout the day, your child will have short child and adult-led activities interlinked with the current learning topic and the essential characteristics needed to become a great learner. We also introduce and begin to embed our school SPARKS values: Safe, Proud, Ambitious, Ready, Kind, and Successful.



There are seven areas of learning and development in the EYFS curriculum, and they are all important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. The three prime areas are:


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


There are also four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied:


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


Within the seven areas we provide many creative activities and experiences for children, which involve: playing and exploring; active learning and creating and thinking critically.

Communication and language development  involves giving children opportunities to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations. At Damson Wood, we have a wealth of languages and cultural backgrounds and for many children, English is not their first language. We recognise the importance of children’s back-and-forth interactions with peers and adults as the foundations for language development. Our adults are skilled at sensitively questioning or commenting on what the children are interested in when engaged in activities. They echo back what children say with new vocabulary added, or careful questioning that invites them to elaborate and become comfortable using a richer range of vocabulary and language structures. We provide an exciting range of role play and hot seating activities linked to our termly projects. This provides opportunity to recount experiences, rehearse scenarios or share and explore ideas.

We also use the Skills Builder Framework in Nursery and Reception to develop communication. This toolkit supports children’s development in basic speaking and listening skills such as being able to listen effectively to others without interrupting or being able to remember short instructions.

Physical development  falls into two categories: fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skill (dexterity) is the coordination of small muscles. Gross motor skills are referred to as the movement and coordination of the arms, legs, and other large body parts. Generally, these skills call for whole-body movement and are developed through larger movements such as riding bikes, scooters, climbing, catching, or kicking a ball. Your child will be subjected to various activities throughout the day to develop these abilities.

Personal, social and emotional development   involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves and respect for others. Children will learn how to manage their feelings, resolve conflicts, be assertive and to have confidence in their own abilities. This subject underpins all we do in school. Your child’s teacher will support all aspects of this area through play, discussion and by being good role models themselves.

In addition, your child will become aware of how to be safe and healthy. Children will discover the importance and health benefits of food, exercise and sleep as well as how to support themselves independently with dressing and taking care of their personal hygiene. 

We follow the Jigsaw P.S.H.E scheme in school which introduces children to the themes of relationships, healthy living, changes, learning about ourselves, dreams, goals and celebrating differences. 

Literacy involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write.  Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials to ignite their interest.

Our school has chosen Little Wandle Letters and Sounds as our phonics programme to teach early reading and spelling. We believe that this programme is the best available and will ensure that all of our children have the right start to reading. Children are assessed regularly to check if they might need any extra support or intervention and also ensure that they are reading a book at the right level.

When children enter Reception, they take part in high-quality phonics sessions every day. We usually teach four new sounds a week and have a review lesson on Friday. You will receive a list of the sounds that we are learning to support your learning at home. This will help you with formation and pronunciation.

Group reading involves planned, focussed reading activities with an adult and up to six ability grouped children. The learning is objective led and this is shared explicitly with the pupils at the start of each session. The children read the same book three times in a week. The first time we work on decoding (sounding out) the words, the second time we work on prosody which is reading with expression – making the book sound more interesting with our storyteller voice – and the third time we look at comprehension. We read the books three times at school because we want to develop fluency. The more children see words, the more they begin to read them automatically without having to sound them out.

 Mathematics  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. We follow the Mastering Number programme which aims to secure firm foundations in the development of good number sense for all children. The materials are designed to be used in conjunction with the Numberblocks episodes. (Numberblocks, is a pre-school BBC television series aimed at introducing children to early number).

Understanding the world  involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community.  Children are encouraged to talk about their own families and find out about the similarities and differences between themselves and others. We invite visitors to our classrooms during ‘Ambition Week’ so that children can learn about important people in our society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters and also consider what role they themselves might choose to take in society when they are older. We also take children on local walks or visit places such as farms and animal care centres, to help children make links and develop their knowledge and sense of the world around them.

Expressive arts and design  encompasses a broad range of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role play and design and technology. Children are given opportunities to explore colour, make their own creations, follow instructions, sing and play instruments in order to express themselves and develop their own personalities. We follow the Charanga music programme which introduces children to a variety of different of music styles.



The level of progress children are expected to attain by the end of the EYFS is defined by the early learning goals. Details of these goals are included in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, a copy of which is available in the school office or can be found online:


Learning Journeys

At Damson Wood we have chosen to use a class floor book to document your child’s learning and development. Each class has its own journal which is made up from the observations and photographs that we gather from the individuals in each class. In Nursery and Reception, our journals show examples of mark making, written observations, photographs, evidence of our school values and the child’s voice. All of this information helps us to assess the children’s learning and development and plan appropriately for each child as they work towards achieving the Early Learning Goals. We also warmly welcome contributions from parents and other family members, as this really helps to build a picture of the whole child from more than one perspective.

This journal is kept in your child’s classroom and is regularly shared with the class to reflect on learning. Children are encouraged to share their class floor book with parents during parent’s evenings or at other times when parents have been invited into school such as ERIC reading sessions. We regularly share our floor books with other professionals during internal and external moderation.


Special visits, family and friends

We enjoy welcoming guests and visitors from the local community into our classroom to make our learning more exciting and real. We love them to help us with creative projects, school trips, to watch our performances, parent learning sessions and assemblies, to listen to us read, or, to just share their skills and time with us.

We work closely with parents, and this is encouraged well before your child begins at Damson Wood. We have many transition events open to families which enable us to get to know our families really well.


Parent workshops throughout the year

 You, as Parents and Carers, are an important part of your child’s education. The school’s tracking systems also indicate clearly that a child who is well supported at home, makes even greater progress - this partnership is therefore essential. To help you with this, you will be invited to further meetings in the new academic year that explain how we plan, teach and assess your children, how we teach phonics and maths, and how you can support  your child at home. Dates for these will be shared with you via parent pay and the school newsletter.

Enrichment in learning

We are always looking for new ways to give your child an even better, more stimulating learning experience and add value to their young lives in preparation for the future. Our enrichment opportunities at Damson Wood help every child to extend their learning and make connections whilst having tremendous fun.


Our Nursery enhancements include:

  • Local walk to post box to post letters to Santa
  • Visits from dentist, police or fireman
  • Hatching chicks
  • Visit to Ash End Farm
  • Nursery graduation
  • Weekly Forest School sessions
  • Visits from Bear – our school dog


Our Reception enhancements include:

  • Visit from the sea cadets to learn about life on board a pirate shipPirate party
  • Potion Commotion parent workshop
  • Stones and Bones – virtual museum for parents
  • Easter Breakfast
  • Ambition Week
  • Visit from Birmingham Dogs Home
  • Trip to the animal care centre
  • Weekly Forest School sessions

Outdoor Learning

We have a large outdoor area at the back of the school where children can enjoy the natural space to play and explore. We also have weekly Forest School lessons where pupils have opportunities to build dens, use tools, play in the mud kitchen and enjoy a campfire.


Quality Interactions

We believe that staff interactions are at the core of children making good progress and we place great importance upon the role of the play partner to provide a tailored curriculum to meet children's individual needs and interests. In our environment you will see:


  • Adults constantly interacting and moving learning on in tiny steps without disrupting the powerful vehicle which is their child-initiated play
  • Adult-led has an objective and a purpose. The adults are leading. When play is child-led then the learning belongs to the child, we are following!
  • Adults "pondering and "wondering" rather than always asking direct questions. It allows the child to respond if they wish. It tells the child that the adult is genuinely interested and the adult does not know everything and encourages the child to think. Where appropriate we also add in and extend language
  • The adult responds as appropriate…they know the children inside out so are able to tailor their response to the particular child, in the particular situation at that particular moment. They can spot the unique “teachable moment”. This is the ultimate in differentiation.
  • Staff will not always be recording interactions- our aim is to write less but interact more!