Beamish Primary School

  • SearchSearch Site
  • Translate Translate Page
  • Instagram Instagram
  • Facebook Facebook
  • Our Trust

Foundation Stage

Welcome to Early Years Foundation Stage

Our Nursery and Reception children are taught alongside each other in our Foundation Stage unit. Our children love to explore, play and investigate!


Exploring our Environment

Staff within in our EYFS have worked tirelessly to transform our provision and have successfully created a highly stimulating environment which meets the needs of our pupils very well. The environment comprises a core provision of quality, open- ended resources, arranged into areas that support learning across the EYFS curriculum. This core provision is frequently enhanced to cater for the children’s current interests and themes practitioners are teaching. We operate free flow play between indoors and outdoors and both environments are well- organised, stimulating and engaging.

We constantly review and update our provision according to the current needs of our children.  We encourage parents/carers to inform us of their child’s needs and interests as they change and develop throughout the year.  We can then ensure our provision meets the most up to date needs of our children.  Engagement levels are increased by adding enhancements based on the interests of the children in our Early Years room.  We want children to be happy – happy children make successful learners! But, we also want children to be motivated and challenged by the resources that we provide for them. We want them to be thinkers, negotiators and problem solvers – to apply the knowledge that they already have to enable them to explore new possibilities. Each area of provision that we create has a variety of interesting and stimulating resources that engage our children and have the potential to extend their learning.

Early Reading and Phonics

Read Write Ince have introduced the Read Write Inc programme in Reception and Key Stage 1. This programme includes a systematic and dynamic whole-school approach to teaching phonics.

Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow a phonics programme that supports their individual reading level. As part of the scheme, we also use the Read Write Inc reading books that coincide with the sounds taught in school in one given week.

Teachers carefully choose and send home a corresponding Read Write Inc book-bag book that is a phonetically decodable reading book, containing sounds the children have been taught. The book-bag books also contain useful questions for parents, when discussing the story at home. Children also receive a home reading record, which allows parents to record any information they wish to pass on to the class teacher regarding the books read.

Children also have access to our school library where they choose from a wide range of books that can be enjoyed, with the support of parents, at home. Children in Key Stage Two are also accessing the ‘Read Write Inc’ programme through group or one to one intervention and to reinforce any tricky sounds or alternative pronunciation/spellings.

What is Read Write Inc Phonics?

In school, we also use Ruth Muskin’s Virtual Classroom to support targeted learning at home. 

Information for parents and families

With help supporting your child at home with their targeted sounds, please see the video on how to pronounce the sounds and also the leaflets below:

We regularly invite parents to Reading meetings where we explain how we teach early reading as well as provide guidance on how they can support reading further at home.

Promoting a love of Reading

At Pelton and Beamish Federation we are passionate about developing a love for reading.

Each class has timetabled visit to our school library, where we have a wide range of books including: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry as well as comics, annuals and story sacks. We have an ‘Author Spotlight’ and ‘Bookflix’ display that changes every half term. Children can choose a library book to take home and read. We have weekly reading club where children spend time enjoying the library.

Children also review books read and create Bookflix recommendations to encourage others to read.

We hold a yearly Scholastic School Book Fair and linked events as well as celebrating World Book Day with library visits and story carousels.

We hold parent reading meetings to provide support and guidance on reading at home.

Reading aloud to our children is very important to us and in our Literacy lessons we offer opportunities to explore different types of books using the ‘Book Blanket’ where books are spread out over tables for children to look at. In EYFS and KS1, we vote daily for picture books we would like to hear read during the day. We also have a bedtime book box that goes home every week, that contains a year group recommended reader, a cuddly toy and a sachet of hot chocolate to enjoy at bedtime as a family.

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development in the Early Years

What is SMSC?

SMSC stands for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. All schools in England must show how well their pupils develop in SMSC.

Spiritual: explore beliefs and experience; respect faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity; reflect.

Moral: recognise right and wrong; respect the law; understand consequences; investigate moral and ethical issues; offer reasoned views.

Social: investigate moral issues; appreciate diverse viewpoints; participate, volunteer and cooperate; resolve conflict; engage with the fundamental values of British democracy.

Cultural: appreciate cultural influences; appreciate the role of Britain’s parliamentary system; participate in culture opportunities; understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity.

SMSC in the Early Years

SMSC development is now referenced throughout Ofsted’s School Inspection Handbook. In the Early Years, we have a thoughtful and wide-ranging promotion of pupils’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development and their physical well-being.

SMSC Development

Spiritual Development

  • Encouraging awe and wonder for environment – e.g. lying looking at clouds in the sky
  • Encouraging appreciation of nature – e.g. spider webs, watching ladybirds
  • Encouraging children to reflect on their experiences, individually and in group time
  • Supporting development of imagination and creativity through stories and open-ended creative provision
  • Planning for and offering magical moments
  • Acknowledgement of importance of enjoyment to well-being through having fun e.g. jumping in puddles
  • Encouraging awe and wonder for objects – e.g. curiosity cube
  • Encouraging strong key person relationships – influencing quality of life through these interactions

Moral Development

  • Through questionnaires encourage community involvement in thinking about values to promote e.g. being honest
  • Promote values through stories at large group time
  • Discuss values and feelings through use of the “Box of Feelings” programme
  • Reward system rewarding attitudes e.g. being kind
  • Staff modelling of values e.g. being friendly
  • Supporting children’s following of rules e.g. “no running in the classroom”
  • The Restorative Approach is used consistently by all staff in the nursery
  • Use of conflict resolution techniques to encourage children’s understanding of feelings of others

Social Development

  • Use of key person groups to encourage children to form friendships
  • Staff support social skills and development throughout play and learning experiences
  • Snack times and lunch club– supporting table manners
  • Teaching self-care habits – e.g. blowing noses, covering mouth when coughing
  • Support inclusion of children within play and challenge any stereo typing e.g. “boys can’t come in the home corner”
  • Support transition process into nursery and into school
  • Support development of respectful behaviour e.g. listening to others, not invading other children’s space
  • Sharing a wide range of quality inclusive texts/stories and social stories with children

Cultural Development

  • Appreciation of cultures of others as it arises from home backgrounds of children within nursery and within the books shared
  • “News from Home” sheets encourage families to tell us about their own cultural celebrations and customs and these are shared
  • Encourage bi-lingual children to use their home language, as well as English and discuss importance of this with parents
  • Challenge stereo –typical language and ensure all types of families feel accepted and respected.
  • Quality inclusive resources purchased and provided in the environment
  • Understanding and feeling comfortable in a variety of cultures

Learning to Learn

When we see a baby in their cot, we’re looking at ‘the greatest mind that has ever existed, the most powerful learning machine in the universe.’

Children are developing their skills as a learner, which they will take with them throughout their education, and indeed their life. We can help children become even more powerful learners through three Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning:

  • Playing and exploring – I investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’.
  • Active learning – I concentrate and keep on trying even when I encounter difficulties. I enjoy achieving.
  • Creating and thinking critically – I am learning to develop my own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

Playing and Exploring

To be a good learner, children need to be curious about the world around them, to be willing to explore and find out about new objects and people, and relate this to what they already know. They need to be willing to try new things, to seek new challenges, and not to be scared of making mistakes.

Within playing and exploring:

  • I understand that my actions have an effect on the world, so I want to keep on exploring.
  • I am learning to plan and think ahead about how I will explore or play with objects.
  • I might talk to myself or use visual aids such as pictures while I am playing to help my thinking. For example, when doing a jigsaw, I might whisper under my breath: “Where does that one go? – I need to find the big horse next.”
  • I can make independent choices.
  • I bring my own interests and fascinations from home into my setting. This helps me to develop my learning.
  • I respond to new experiences that you introduce.

Active Learning

To develop skills and learn children need to stay focused on what they are trying to achieve; to concentrate. They need to remain focused and keep on trying without giving up when things become difficult.

Within Active Learning:

  • I join in with routines without needing to be told, like going to my cot when I want to sleep.
  • I am learning to predict what might happen because I understand a familiar routine, e.g. I may get my coat when adults open the door to go outside.
  • I show goal-directed behaviour, e.g. as a baby I may pull myself up by using the edges of a low table to reach for a toy on top of the table. As a toddler, I might turn a storage box upside down so I can stand on it and reach up for an object.
  • I am learning to correct my mistakes myself, e.g. instead of using increasing force to push a puzzle piece into the slot, I try another piece to see if it will fit.
  • I keep on trying when things are difficult.

Creating and Thinking Critically

Good learners have their own ideas, based on what they already know, have seen or can already do.  They develop their own ideas, make links in their learning and develop strategies for doing things.

Within Creating and Thinking Critically

  • I take part in simple pretend play, e.g. I might use an object like a brush to pretend to brush my hair, or ‘drink’ from a pretend cup.
  • I can sort materials, e.g. at tidy-up time, I know how to put different construction materials in separate baskets.
  • I can talk about my learning. I think about my progress as I try to achieve a goal. I check how well I am doing.
  • I am learning to solve real problems, e.g. to share nine strawberries between three friends, a strategy I might use is to put one in front of each, then a second, then a third. Finally, I might check at the end that everyone has the same number of strawberries.
  • I like to ‘pretend’ in my play. By pretending to be someone else I can imagine other points of view, e.g. when I am playing ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ I might suggest that “Maybe the troll is lonely and hungry? That’s why he is fierce.”
  • As I learn more things, I become more confident to come up with my own ideas and explanations. When I know about different types of dinosaurs, I can say which ones are meat eaters by seeing if they have big sharp teeth.
  • I can concentrate hard to achieve something that’s important to me. I can focus my attention and ignore any distractions around me.

When we plan and think about the children’s activities and experiences, we reflect on the different ways that children learn and how this can be developed and extended. 

Top 25 Activities

Here are our top twenty-five experiences which children have during their time with us at Beamish EY’s:

    1. Watch some eggs hatch and hold a baby chick
    2. Paint a picture to take home
    3. Plant some cress seeds and watch them grow
    4. Collect conkers and Autumn leaves
    5. Butter a slice of toast
    6. Share and prepare celebration food with friends
    7. Watch a puppet show
    8. Play hide and seek in our woodland area
    9. Make a sand castle
    10. Perform some songs for our families
    11. Become very familiar with Three Little Pigs, The Billy Goats Gruff, Gingerbread Man and other traditional tales
    12. Feed the birds and learn the names of some common ones
    13. Hunt for mini-beasts in our garden
    14. Do a Spring Treasure Hunt
    15. Make a magic potion or soup in our outdoor kitchen
    16. Complete an obstacle course
    17. Have a Teddy Bear’s picnic
    18. Help decorate a Christmas Tree
    19. Pick and eat some fruit and/or vegetables we have grown
    20. Visit the seaside
    21. Visit a farm
    22. Observe the life cycle of a butterfly and frog
    23. Post a letter to a friend
    24. Take a photograph and print it out
    25. Make a kite and fly it on a windy day

Home Learning

If your child is not able to come to nursery through either mild ill health or unforeseen circumstances such as a lockdown you could click on the link below for some ideas for home learning activities linked to our nursery curriculum.

Documents to Support Home Learning

Please view our ‘Help Your Child At Home’ section of the website for more information, ideas and guidance.

Online Resources

Hungry Little Minds
Simple, fun activities for kids, from new-born to five. Many little things light up hungry little minds. Kids take everything in, and even the smallest things you do with them can make a big difference. View the Hungry Little Minds website.

Tiny Happy People
Tiny Happy People is here to help you develop your child’s communication skills. Explore our simple activities and play ideas and find out about their amazing early development. Visit Tiny Happy People website.

Songs & Rhymes

Durham Music Service has produced a YouTube channel with daily musical activities; the Groovy Moovy Monday and Tiny Tunes Tuesday videos may be particularly enjoyed by very young children.  View the video here

These are some of the children’s favourite rhymes and songs. Why not have a sing-a-long! If you are struggling with the tune, you can find lots of videos to help you at Songs & Rhymes,  Bus Songs and BBC Nursery Rhymes and Songs (Nursery Rhymes and Songs – BBC Teach) websites.

Below are some ideas and activity cards for you to try out at home, we’d love to see which ones you try.  Please upload photos to Tapestry or send them via Class Dojo.

Ideas for Helping you child at Home

Physical Development

  • If confined to the house you could make little obstacle courses for your child/children from cushions. If space allows encourage your child to practise jumping (Can your do 6 big jumps?), hopping, crawling, rolling, running on the spot.
  • Do a mini exercise workout with them – practising stretches, claps and practice moving forwards and backwards.
  • Dance with them! Choose a song that you both enjoy and just have fun!
  • Help your child to learn about healthy foods by letting them help you make a healthy fruit salad or soup.
  • Search on YouTube for some great videos by This Is PE
  • Try Cosmic Yoga for physical development and mindfulness  Cosmic Kids Yoga – YouTube


  • Help your child to develop the correct pencil grip if they are ready for this.
  • If they are not keen to do the above, they can still develop their finger control (which will help them later in writing) through activities such as playing with Lego, making necklaces from pasta on a string, cutting out shapes from cards/magazines etc (use children’s scissors only).
  • Help your child to write their name. Only the first letter should be a capital letter, the rest needs to be lower case letters. Some children may not be ready for this yet, but may enjoy just writing the first letter. Praise and encourage what they can do – don’t try to make them as you risk putting them off.
  • Draw a face – draw a round shape and ask your child to add eyes, nose, mouth.  Encourage your child to make marks and tell you what they have drawn.
  • Give your child any unwanted paper/cardboard to draw on. At first it may just be scribble, but over time and with practice this will develop into faces and more representative pictures.
  • Get them to find letters that they know in books and in the environment. It is the letter sound they need to learn first, not the name (e.g. “sssss” for S, not “ess”).
  • Read stories to your child, you can search for online books too. Look at the pictures in the books and talk about what you can see.

Counting is the first basic numerical skill that children need to learn. Use small groups of objects first, and encourage your child to either move each object or point to each object as they say each number. You may need to encourage them to slow down, as many children start to speed up and then miscount. You could ask them to count e.g. their toy cars, or smarties. Focus on numbers up to 10 mainly – children need to be confident in their understanding of these numbers (not just the counting rhyme) before they move on to higher numbers.
  • Counting out an amount of objects from a bigger group of objects is the next step on. For example you could ask them to count out 4 carrots for you from a bag of e.g. 10 carrots. They may find this tricky at first, so need lots of practice.
  • Use meal times or bath times to develop concepts of “more than” or “less than”. E.g. “ I have less potatoes than Daddy. You have more than your sister”. “Could you put more water in this cup?”
  • If your child has a construction kit at home e.g. Lego, stickle bricks, talk about the shapes as they play but also properties of shapes e.g. “Can you put that piece in the corner” “Shall we make the tower have a pointed top?” If you don’t have any construction kits, you could use small boxes from packaging e.g. toothpaste boxes, shoe boxes. Use mathematical language as they play such as “Can we make it taller? Can we make it longer?”
  • Jigsaws are an excellent way for children to develop their observation skills, and learn about corners, sides etc. Show them “jigsaw techniques” such as completing the sides first. If you don’t have any jigsaws, they can be borrowed from the library. There are also jigsaws on children’s apps such as Bob the Builder.

Understanding the World

  • Some of the Blue Planet documentaries are fascinating for the whole family and even young children will enjoy watching them for short periods of time.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and answer as honestly as you can. Be aware of what is on the TV though, as even some programmes such as Coronation Street which are on quite early can show some scenes which could cause anxiety for young children.
  • There are a huge amount of educational apps for young children for tablets/iPads. The best learning takes place when these are done alongside an adult or an older sibling.

Art and Design

  • The cleanest way to let your child paint is to use block palettes of paints rather than tubes of paint. Again table covering and supervision required! At this stage children’s paintings tend to be very experimental – with lines and mixing colours (doesn’t really look like anything yet) – think of it as modern art!
  • Many children start to draw at this stage – so provide pencils/crayons and paper. Don’t waste money on expensive paper as their drawings tend to be quite quick initially. Colouring sheets/books can be good finger control practice if your child enjoys them. Again supervision is required for drawing activities so you don’t end up with some extra wall designs! Children much prefer to draw/ colour alongside an adult too. If you have time to spare – why not join in – its very therapeutic!
  • Sing songs together. Make it fun by playing little games e.g. suggest a topic e.g. sheep and see if your child can sing a song about it (Baa Baa black sheep). Make up silly songs that rhyme (this will help your child begin to learn about rhyming words).
  • Use boxes and other household objects to encourage imaginative play e.g. making a car from a big cardboard box or let your child pretend to be a chef, using empty pans and spoons on the table. Any sort of pretend games are good for developing children’s language and imagination.
  • Art kits for young children are available from shops such as the Works. They can be quite prescriptive, so will need adult input. Alternatively you can let them make their own pictures from stickers or use cut out pictures from magazines and a tube of glue (supervision and covering of table required!)

 What to do if you have concerns about your child's development

Sometimes children have some early difficulties in their development. With the right help, they can quickly grow out of these difficulties.

  • For example, 70% of children with delayed communication in the early years won’t have problems later in school. Those ‘late talkers’ need lots of opportunities to chat, play and read to help them grow out of their early difficulties.
  • Some children will have long-term difficulties, so it’s important to identify what their needs are and make sure they get the support they need.
  • Settings can seek specialist funding, equipment and support from other professionals to ensure your child gets the best start to their education, even before setting foot into our school.
  • Every child can make good progress, with the right support.


What to do if you are concerned

  • As a parent, you know your child best.
  • Health visitors and early years practitioners have expert knowledge of child development.
  • By working together, you can identify any difficulties your child has with their health, learning or development.
  • If your child is struggling with learning, we can offer extra support to meet their needs, please contact us (0191 370 0181) to discuss how we can offer further support and advice.

New College Durham Academies Trust

The focus on Excellence underpins all that we do whether in learning areas, working within the communities we serve or governing and leading our Academies.

Visit Site