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St Thomas' C of E Primary School

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The EYFS department at St Thomas Church of England Primary school is a learning environment which aims at all times to be happy because we know that happy children are responsive, receptive and enthusiastic to learning and challenging because we know children are capable and keen to learn, and enjoy the challenge and the achievements that come with it.

Through planned, purposeful play, children are able to discover, practise and refine their skills in literacy and mathematics as well as find out about themselves and their environment. In a broad and balanced way, our provision ensures coverage of the seven areas of learning and responds to the needs and interests of all our children. At all times, we consider characteristics of effective learning which promote positive attitudes to learning, an enthusiasm for knowledge and the confidence to become successful learners.

Curriculum 

Within EYFS we follow the curriculum as outlined in the EYFS 2021 DFE Statutory framework for the Foundation Stage. The EYFS curriculum is based on seven key features of effective practice as set out in Development Matters 2020

  1. The best for every child 
  2. High-quality care
  3. The curriculum: what we want children to learn 
  4. Pedagogy: helping children to learn 
  5. Assessment: checking what children have learnt 
  6. Self-regulation and executive function 
  7. Partnership with parents 

As part of our best practice we:  

  • Provide a balanced curriculum, based on the EYFS, across the seven areas of learning 
  • Promote equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice  
  • Provide early intervention for those who need additional support  
  • Work in partnership with parents and where needed outside agencies  
  • Plan challenging learning experiences for all our children, based on the individual needs of the child  
  • Provide opportunities for our children to engage in adult led learning and self initiated learning  Provide a secure and safe learning environment indoors and outdoors  
  • Plan an exciting and challenging curriculum based on our observations of children’s needs, interests and stages of development across the seven areas of  learning

Supporting Your Child: Expectations for Learning

There are seven areas which form the basis of the EYFS curriculum. These areas are made up of Prime Areas and Specific Areas.  Each area of learning has a set of related expectations for typical development through the Early Years.  National expectations are that within Nursery most children will work within the 3 – 4 year band of development and some within the earlier band and that children will start Reception being secure in the knowledge, understanding and abilities within the 3-4 year band  and begin to demonstrate the knowledge, understanding and abilities within Reception Band. By the end of Reception, most children will have reached the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) at the Expected level. Some might still have knowledge skills and understanding which is Emerging and are still working towards their Early Learning Goals.  

The prime areas are:

  • Personal, Social and motional development (making relationships; self-confidence and self-awareness; managing feelings and behaviour)
  • Communication and language (listening and attention; understanding; speaking)
  • Physical development (moving and handling; health and self-care)

The specific areas are:

  • Literacy (reading; writing)
  • Mathematics (numbers; shape, space and measures)
  • Understanding the world (people and communities; the world; technology)
  • Expressive arts and design (exploring and using media and materials, being imaginative)

Supporting Your Child: Characteristics of Effective Learning

We place a good deal of importance on the characteristics of effective learning:

  • playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’ (you can support your child by, for example, making sure they encouraging them to try out new experiences and asking open-ended questions that might stimulate their curiosity);
  • active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements (allow your child to play independently – avoid leading your child’s play, and don’t let them engage for too long in passive activities like watching TV); and
  • creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things (when your child is playing, provide some challenges and allow them to be inventive – try leaving fewer toys for them but add a few unknown objects for them to use… don’t forget how much fun a cardboard box can be!).

Our assessment data for older children shows that those children who demonstrate strong characteristics of effective learning are more likely to enjoy and achieve at a higher level as they get older. Support your child to develop these characteristics just as much as you support the academic side of things. This document gives you more information about the characteristics – it might help you get an idea of how you can support your child to develop good ‘learning behaviour’

At St Thomas we believe effective learning in the Early Years is the result of a balance between:

  • adult-led learningthis is led and managed by the adult and is typically planned to meet the specific learning needs of the child(ren) – For example daily phonics teaching
  • adult-guided learningthis is where adults might support a child by guiding them (for example, by questioning and prompting, or by providing specific resources in an area of the classroom) and the child(ren) can independently practise or explore
  • child-initiated learningthis is when the child chooses where to go and what to do in the learning environment – it might look like play, but a lot of incidental learning can happen

Research shows that the best outcomes for children’s learning occur where most of the activity within a child’s day is a mixture of child-initiated play (actively supported by adults) and focused learning (with adults guiding the learning through playful, rich experiential activities).

A key aspect of the Early Years Foundation Stage is to move the learning from their starting point.  Staff within EYFS find out what children want to know – what interests them, sparks their natural curiosity, engages them to be effective learners – by making lots of observations of the children and having discussions with children and parents to inform the direction of learning.

Early Years Learning Environment

The inside environment at St Thomas is a calm learning space with neutral hessian walls for displaying work and neutral areas of Continuous Provision.  Each area has lots of resources which allow children to learn independently and is based around developing key skills linked to each area of the EYFS curriculum.  

Staff take time to ensure that all areas of learning meet the needs of all learners within the setting.  Enhancements are put into each area linked to our Narrative Immersion text or themes linked to the children’s ideas. Within each area there are writing resources, books linked to a theme and opportunities to learn independently or with adult support.  

Throughout the year our areas provide differentiated resources which support different types of learners (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic). Our learning environment is a warm and welcoming space where children can develop skills and enhance their learning.   

Nursery Learning Environment

Reception Learning Environment

Outside Learning Environment