Springboard Stage

Nursery and Reception to Year 4

Springboard is important as it builds on a child's natural curiosity and love for learning. It is a mixture of structured and child-initiated learning. Each child is continuously assessed through informal daily monitoring and more formal assessment tasks. 


Early Years

Children start off the springboard stage in the Early Years and Foundation Stage Unit. The Unit consists of children from Foundation 1 (Nursery), Foundation 2 (Reception) and Year One.

We arrange groupings so that children learn what they need to learn, when they are ready to learn it. F1 children may work alongside F2 children if it is appropriate and vice versa.

Groupings are more flexible to benefit the children and we can provide opportunities that are challenging and differentiated to meet individual learning needs. 

Quiet areas are available so that children can work in a small group on an adult led activity, away from other distractions. When they are not working with an adult, children choose from a range of activities, both inside and outside, which have been set up to develop a range of skills and are based on children’s needs and interests.

Each child has a ‘Learning Journey’ book,  a record of the child’s significant achievements in the unit or at home. We assess children’s needs, abilities and interests by observing them in their play and use the observations to plan ‘next steps’ in learning.

When playing, younger children benefit from playing alongside older and more experienced children. Older children benefit from working with younger children, for example, by explaining how to play a game.



The Unit further benefits children as they are in the same part of the school for a longer period of time. This makes the first few years of education a time of emotional security, which builds confidence and reduces the stress which can be caused by transition.

Transition to full time school is much easier than in the past as children have familiar routines and work with the same team of familiar adults. Routines change during the course of the year so that they are gradually introduced to set break times, longer periods of adult led activity and more formal learning.


Later Springboard

As the children move up into Year 2 and 3 we separate them into their own classes – though they will often work on projects – often in Art, History or Geography – with other year groups. They begin to work on Maths and Literacy daily with their teacher and dedicated Learning Support Assistant (LSA). The LSAs are used to support learning in class, and also to run intervention groups for those needing help with reading, writing or math’s. 

Our year 4s work with Year 5s on projects to aid their transition into the Gateway Stage – each moment of transition is incorporated into the curriculum so that the children have a smooth and natural progression as they move up the Academy.

This encourages staff to work together for the good of the child, creating a flexible curriculum, which is centered on each child and aiding their development.


Click here to view or download our Early Years and Foundation Unit booklet


Dartmouth Academy Early Years and Foundation Unit Booklet