Children entering Durham School Dubai in EYFS start Foundation Stage 1 in the September after their third birthday.  The Early Years Foundation Stage is a two-year phase. Teaching assistants support the class teachers in the delivery of the curriculum and specialist teachers deliver carousel activities in Art, Music and Computing, as well as an informal approach to Arabic. The children in Foundation Stage will also love visiting the Library each week.

The children have a dedicated play area featuring a range of activities, including wheeled vehicles, keeping them fully occupied at break times!  Our talented and experienced staff provide a range of changing outdoor play activities such as water, sand, mark making and small world. The learning environments are a hive of activity providing the children with a range of multi-sensory activities. Display areas celebrate the children’s work across all curriculum areas.  All classrooms have interactive whiteboards to support the children’s learning; these offer ways to support and consolidate day to day skills and allow access to the world outside through interactive websites.

Phonics Programme by Little Wandle

At Durham Dubai we use a structured approach to teaching children how to use phonic sounds in their reading and writing, with the aim that children become fluent readers and accurate spellers.

We teach early reading through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised systematic, synthetic phonics programme.

When children join us in FS1 they are first introduced to our Little Wandle programme, laying the foundation for phonics. Children partake in short daily sessions incorporating a variety of activities and planned games to develop an awareness of sound and to develop the focused listening and attention skills which are both vital for sound awareness and early reading. As the year develops children are also introduced to oral blending through engaging games and when developmentally ready children begin learning phase 2 sounds and start their phoneme journey.

As children progress to FS2 children will have a daily phonics lesson of 30 minutes which follows the progression from the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds progression document and this continues in Year One and Year Two (and thereafter where necessary) to ensure children become fluent readers.
In FS2, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible.

Children make a strong start in FS2: carefully structured phonics teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term following a specific format of revisit and review, teach, practise and apply. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress (please click here for the programme progression document). Four new phonemes and their corresponding graphemes are taught (GPCs) each week and they are then used in the final lesson of the week to review the week’s learning. Children will also learn tricky words during these sessions.

Our early reading lessons in FS2, Year 1 and Year 2 link with the children’s phonic skill level and decoding ability. Children read from closely matched phonetically regular books to support them in developing reading fluency, comprehension and understanding thus gaining confidence in their reading ability.

During each academic year, parents in FS1, FS2, Year 1 and Year 2 are invited to Phonic Workshops to introduce the teaching approach and to develop their understanding of how they can support their child at home.

We assess all children from FS1 (where appropriate) up to Year 2 every 6 weeks as part of the programme to identify any gaps in learning and to check and monitor progress. Where gaps are identified, rapid catch up sessions are put in place by specifically ‘Little Wandle’ trained teachers and teaching assistants to bridge gaps whilst building confidence as quickly as possible.
In addition to this, here at Durham Dubai we opt for children to take part in the UK Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1. This check is designed by the Government to assess how well children in the UK have mastered the skill of using phonics.

For more information and to find out how you can further support your child please see the Little Wandle website parents section and visit the documents below:

Learn More

The children get the opportunity to play outdoors for most of the year and eat their lunch indoors in our fantastic canteen. Foundation Stage children will spend an increased amount of curriculum time outdoors during the cooler months with art, physical, creative, mathematical and language tasks and resources available outside.


Early Years in Durham School Dubai will be a delightful experience filled with exciting learning opportunities and lots of fun! We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum which is broken down into 7 areas further divided into Prime and Specific areas.

The three Prime Areas are:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development

The four Specific Areas are:

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

Our classrooms and outdoor areas are organised to allow children to explore and learn securely and safely. At Durham School Dubai, we believe that children learn through play and this is part of the continuous work in the Foundation Stage. It is the natural way for children to learn and it is a vehicle that provides access to the curriculum and a useful approach to learning.

Opportunities to enrich the curriculum are developed through trips and visitors. Parents are invited into school to attend school productions that are appropriate to the children’s age. The children have great fun preparing for these through songs, actions, dance and some speaking parts.

If you would like a tour of our EYFS facility you can contact the main reception where our staff will be happy to make an appointment for you.