The Curriculum - Early Years

Our approach to teaching and learning in EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage)

We are keen to ensure that EYFS outcomes are useful to pupils in terms of basic skills development, particularly in the areas of behaviour, reading, writing and maths. On leaving Reception class it is important that pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their education in Year 1.

The whole of the EYFS curriculum is in place throughout Reception and full use is made of national EYFS guidance.

We take as our starting point the following statement from the statutory framework for EYFS

‘Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated play. As children grow older it is expected that the balance will gradually shift towards more activities led by adults to help children prepare for the more formal learning of Year 1.’

Teachers regularly deploy three different styles of teaching in order to give pupils a varied menu of learning experiences, both teacher initiated and pupil initiated over the course of a week.

Teacher initiated learning

Small group reading, writing and maths: children work in small groups to learn new skills in reading, writing and maths under the direct instruction of an adult.

The whole class also works together to learn new skills in phonics, understanding the world and R.E. Children then work in small groups to practise these skills under the direct instruction of an adult.

Mixture of teacher initiated and pupil initiated learning

Choosing activities: these are activities initiated by teachers but chosen and extended by children. They can select from a variety of activities covering the majority of the curriculum. They select the activities they wish to take part in and the order in which they wish to complete them. There is often the opportunity to adjust the activity to follow children’s curiosity and imagination. Adults facilitate children's learning in order to maximise outcomes.

Child initiated learning

These activities start with a stimulus, often provided by the children themselves. Through discussion with a small group of children, an adult will help children to explore an area of interest to them and create an outcome of value, practising many useful skills along the way. For example, an Autumn leaves stimulus could involve the following outcomes being chosen by children themselves and not planned by adults.

Outcome 1: The creation of a photographic record of an afternoon adventure in the park, annotated by pupils.

Outcome 2: The creation of a junk modelling giraffe eating green leaves from a spring time tree.

Outcome 3: The creation of a suit of armour made from Autumn leaves.

What does Ofsted say? (taken from 2016 Ofsted EYFS training document)

Teaching involves ‘interactions’ with children during adult planned and child initiated activities.

What should we see adults doing?

·         Communicating and modelling language

·         Providing a narrative for what the children are doing

·         Setting challenges

·         Exploring ideas

·         Demonstrating

·         Sharing

·         Explaining

·         Encouraging

·         Recalling

·         Facilitating

·         Questioning

Integral to teaching is how staff:

·         Assess what the children know, understand and can do

·         Take account of their interests and dispositions to learn

·         Use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning

·         Monitor their progress

The EYFS curriculum

The EYFS curriculum is based on the national Statutory Framework for EYFS.

The curriculum is structured around:

Three prime areas of learning

·         Communication and language- listening & attention, understanding, speaking

·         Physical development- moving and handling, health and self-care

·         Personal, social and emotional development - making relationships, self-confidence and self-awareness, managing feelings and behaviour

Four specific areas of learning

·         Literacy-reading, writing

·         Mathematics-number, shape space and measure

·         Understanding the world-people and communities, the world, technology

·         Expressive arts and design-exploring and using media and materials, being imaginative

Three characteristics of effective learning

·         Playing and exploring

·         Active learning

·         Creating and thinking critically


  • The government does not yet prescribe how assessment on entry and on-going assessment should be undertaken in the EYFS.
  • We use the The Fundamentals as our school assessment tool for all Assessment to the end of Reception.
  • Children’s attainment on entry is assessed over the first half of the Autumn term and reported to the HoS just before the October half term.
  • EYFS Profile statements summarise children’s attainment at the end of EYFS. It is based on on going observation and assessment in the three prime areas of learning, four specific areas of learning and the three characteristics of effective learning set out below.

Three prime areas of learning

  • Communication and language-Listening and attention, understanding, speaking
  • Physical development-Moving & handling, health and self-care
  • Personal, social and emotional development-Making relationships, Self confidence and self-awareness, Managing feelings and behaviour

Four specific areas of learning

  • Literacy-Reading, writing
  • Mathematics-Number, shape space and measure
  • Understanding the world-People and communities, the world, technology
  • Expressive arts and design-Exploring and using media and materials, being imaginative

Three characteristics of effective learning

  • Playing and exploring
  • Active learning
  • Creating and thinking critically

Phonics teaching and organisation

Discrete phonics lessons are taught 5 days per week in Reception. Children are taught in whole class sessions. Teaching assistants support children with additional needs during each session. Children are also taught to practise applying their phonics knowledge and skills daily, across the EYFS Curriculum.

The Read, Write, Inc. phonics scheme is used to deliver a progressive programme of word reading skills.

The foundation of early reading is learning to decode fluently through systematic synthetic phonics. At St George’s, children in Reception and KS1 take part in daily group Read, Write Inc. lessons where they learn synthetic phonics in an integrated way, which links their reading and writing.

Children learn the English alphabetic code. First, they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. They experience success from the very beginning. The phonic books used in Read, Write Inc. lessons are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and as children re-read the stories their fluency increases. This helps children to learn to read with a storyteller’s voice.

Children at the Early Stages of Reading

We want to make sure every child learns to read in our school. Some children need extra practice when learning to read so we teach these children one-to-one for ten minutes every day – on top of their group lesson. We make sure they ‘keep up’ from the beginning and do not need ‘catch up’ later on.

Reading Assessment

Children on the Read, Write Inc. programme are grouped according to their reading progress and re-assessed every half term by the Reading Leader – they learn sounds and practise reading every day at exactly the right level.

In the EYFS children are assessed against the CLL criteria through observation and assessment during reading sessions. By the summer term the majority of children will be assessed using the PM Benchmark toolkit


We expect Reception children to begin to learn the 100 key words and common blends. These words are learnt in school and lists are also given to take home. Children are encouraged to practise independent spelling  in everyday emergent writing across the EYFS Curriculum. Children are taught to recognise spelling patterns, use phonics charts, word mats and look for words around the room to support them.

Reading with an adult

Children are read to during whole class sessions. Children are encouraged to read daily. They have opportunities to choose books around their environment or from the reading area to read independently or share with another.


High priority is based on children’s oracy skills on entry and throughout the EYFS.

During each literacy session children are discreetly taught vocabulary and given opportunities to consolidate new vocabulary.

EYFS Practitioners use a range of strategies such as modelling accurate English and vocabulary and  recasting children’s speech, so that they make progress. Children engage in a range of speaking and listening activities throughout each day.  Children are continually encouraged to use taught strategies and participate in activities to ensure they speak in complete sentences and develop their grammar.

Interventions such as Talk Boost are delivered to support children with additional needs. Children with SEND have 1:1 support form a Speech and Language Practitioner as set out in their Education Support Plan.