Reception class | EYPS | Early Years Foundation Stage | EYFS curriculum at Nature Trails
Cawston: 01788 815445
Giving the lorry a repaint!
Water really does flow downhill!
Netting keeps the pigeons off the vegetables!


Willow is the second of our pre-school "Forest Friends" rooms. Children usually make the transition to Willow lodge Lodge in the last year before they commence school. Essentially, at this stage of learning, the resources, practitioner to child ratios and the environment in Willow Lodge are designed to encourage more independent learning and learning in small friendship groups with the support of highly trained practitioners. This includes free access (within reason!) to an interactive whiteboard and IT based learning. There are four qualified Early Years Teachers in the nursery (a specialist post-graduate Teaching qualification, currently referred to as “EYPS”), two being responsible for leading the pre-school teams in Sycamore and Willow Lodges. However in both areas there are highly experienced and well-qualified practitioners, many of whom are educated with degrees in Early Years Practice. All practitioners have unique skills and talents that contribute, in a variety of ways, to the rich and varied experiences that the children enjoy.

Extending experiences

A specialist Yoga teacher visits all of the children in the nursery once a week when the staff join with the children, practising movement and story based dramatic play that stimulates imagination, enhances physical flexibility and promotes a sense of well-being. Practitioners are able to use their knowledge of the Yoga moves and activities to develop interesting activities and ideas for children that attend throughout the week

Older children are also encouraged to join in with “Sing and Sign” as this helps them to consolidate verbal language skills that already exist. They are also exposed to alternative languages (mainly Spanish and French, but also some words and phrases in other languages such as Cantonese and Polish) using IT based learning resources especially designed for young children. Practitioners use a range of audio-visual materials to support language learning. These learning materials are designed to be fun so that learning takes place in an unpressurised way that encourages children to ”have a go” and play with language.

Free-flow outdoor learning is available for all children throughout this area of the nursery and there are extensive play areas within the pre-school nursery grounds that are equipped with a variety of play equipment suitable for the pre-school stages of development. Outdoor play lends itself to opportunities to enhance every aspect of development and practitioners actively support all aspects of learning outside in multiple ways. 

Forest School

When children reach the year prior to commencing school, they access our Forest School outdoor classroom (base camp) that is situated in an orchard garden belonging to the main farm house. From there they have direct access via a gate to the lane and woodland that lies beyond the nursery. Children that attend nursery full time enjoy Forest School, led by specialist practitioners, once a week (unless the weather is very intemperate) while part-time children are offered the opportunity to attend on alternate weeks. Forest School presents assessed and managed challenges that other learning environments do not: Children are able (under the watchful eye and support of adults) climb trees, make dens, explore nature, build with natural materials, use tools and occasionally cook on open fires. This helps them to learn about safety and limitations; preparing them to take responsibility and assess risks for themselves. We find that children who behave and learn in one way in a traditional classroom environment do not necessarily behave in the same way outside: Often a quiet child will “come out of their shell” when outside while a more exuberant child may calm and show more awareness of themselves and their impact on the environment. Because of the challenges that learning out of doors and away from the nursery presents for practitioners and children, we ensure that we operate with higher ratios of adults to supervise children (including 1:1 for using tools and for cooking outside). 

All of our practitioners are introduced to the principles of Forest School and undertake induction training which ensures that they use our countryside environment to its full potential, wisely and with the children’s best learning and safety interests at heart. This means that by the time that children reach pre-school age, if they have attended Nature Trails from the beginning, they show a respect for the countryside and wildlife and demonstrate a high level of confidence and a passion for playing outdoors.