The EYFS Curriculum

The Foundation Stage years are an integrated approach to care and education which runs from before a child is born to when they are five years old - the end of Reception Class.

Every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfil their potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important and provides the foundation for children to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. The aim of the Foundation Years is to help young children achieve the five ‘Every Child Matters’ outcomes of staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being. The EYFS principles are grouped into four distinct but complementary themes:

  • A Unique Child – recognises that every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. The commitments are focused around development; inclusion; safety; and health and well-being.
  • Positive Relationships – describes how children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person. The commitments are focused around respect; partnership with parents; supporting learning; and the role of the key person.
  • Enabling Environments – explains that the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning. The commitments are focused around observation, assessment and planning; support for every child; the learning environment; and the wider context – transitions, continuity, and multi-agency working.
  • Learning and Development – recognises that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, and that all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.

Learning and Development in the EYFS

The learning and development in the EYFS comprises three elements:

  • The statutory Foundation Years framework – the knowledge, skills and understanding which young children should have acquired by the end of the academic year in which they reach the age of five;
  • The educational programmes – the matters, skills and processes which are required to be taught to young children;
  • The assessment arrangements – the arrangements for assessing young children to ascertain their achievement.

There are 7 statutory areas covered in the statutory Foundation Years framework

Three prime areas:

  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Communication and language development
  • Physical development

Four specific areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Art and Design


The first three areas are of prime importance and necessary for effective development and achievement in early years and beyond. The specific areas help to support a rounded approach to child development. All areas are delivered through planned, purposeful play, with a balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities both inside and outside.

Assessment arrangements in the EYFS

Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. All practitioners in the setting observe children and respond appropriately to help them make progress towards the early learning goals. Assessments are based on observation of what children are doing in their day-to-day activities. All adults who interact with a child contribute to this process and information is also sought from parents and the children themselves. Observations and assessments are used to identify learning priorities and plan relevant and motivating learning experiences for each child. Observations are then matched to age-related expectations.

At the end of Reception, the Foundation Years statutory framework is used to sum up each child’s development and learning achievements. The framework is based on practitioners’ ongoing observation and assessments in all the areas of Learning and Development. Judgements against these scales are made from observation of consistent and independent behaviour, predominantly children’s self-initiated activities. This information is passed on to the child’s new teacher in Key Stage 1.

Sharing books in the EYFS

Reading regularly to and with your child to foster a love of reading is one of the best ways to support your child and something we encourage all the way up to Year 6. A few useful tips:

  • Take a few minutes to sit in a relaxed, uninterrupted situation with your child.
  • Move your finger gently along the line of writing as YOU read.
  • Look at the pictures and get your child to talk about them.
  • Ask questions about the story – either referring directly to it (how, when, what, who) or questions that require inference (what might happen next? why?).
  • Let your child re-tell the story back to you – even if this is memorising or making up the story from the pictures. These are all part of the early stages of sharing books and learning to read.
  • Don’t worry if your child chooses the same book on several occasions. The familiarity of a well-known story ensures success and increases confidence.
  • Use constant praise for careful listening.
  • Visit your local library.

Library books in the EYFS
Each week the Nursery, Pre-School and Reception classes take a trip to the school library and allow the children to pick a library book of their choice. They can bring this home with them and keep it for a week. This will be a book for sharing (please refer to advice above). 

Phonic development in the EYFS

phonicsSir Jim Rose confirmed in his independent review of the teaching of reading (Rose Report 2006) that ‘high quality phonic work’ should be the prime means for teaching children how to read and spell words. The review also highlighted the importance of developing from the earliest stages children’s speaking and listening skills, ensuring that beginner readers are ready to get off to a good start in phonic work by the age of five.

We teach phonics using a programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’. This is a highly structured and effective way of learning the early skills of reading and spelling. Phase One is introduced in the Nursery and focuses on auditory discrimination and listening skills. Elements of the next phonic phase are introduced later in the Nursery year, preparing children for starting school.

In Reception, children learn a selection of new letter sounds, high frequency and tricky words each week and send them home so that you can reinforce the same skills. In the autumn term Reception Class teachers run phonic sessions so that you will know how best to support your child with their reading and writing development.

Phonics Books in the EYFS
In Reception, children begin bringing home a reading book almost immediately. To begin with these often have no written words but provide a visual story for adults and children to share, retell and enjoy. Once children know a few letter sounds, we start to send home phonics books so that the children can reinforce the skills that they have learnt at school. We use a progressive reading scheme for starting reading and to take home. We change the reading books as frequently as you need. Some people like to keep books for longer than others. Parents are asked to initial in the log book, as a signal to staff that you have finished with the reading book and would like a new one. We go through reading bags and log books at points during the week. Repetition will develop confidence and skill, we recommend that you read the same book several times before changing it. Your child will be issued with a reading log book which you can use to record the books that have been read and make a comment.

Progression in handwriting in the EYFS

A wide range of activities and variety of equipment is available throughout Nursery, Pre-School and Reception Classes to encourage and develop the fine co-ordination skills necessary for writing e.g. pegs and pegboards, bead threading, jigsaw puzzles, construction kits and toys, tracing pictures, scissors etc.

We do not expect children coming into Reception to be able to write their name but if they can and want to have a go, please encourage this.

  • pencil gripChildren are first encouraged to use large-scale movements:
  • Chalk or large paintbrushes with water outside on blackboard-painted walls.
  • Skywriting main letter shapes (see below) using whole arm movements starting from the shoulder.
  • Paints, chalks and thick felt pens on large paper.
  • Letter shapes made with finger or small stick in trays of salt, sand, foam or gloop.
  • Children are encouraged to develop an effective pencil grip.

A range of opportunities for writing are always available including paper and card of different shapes, types and sizes, writing implements, notebooks, diaries, labels, envelopes, blank cards etc.

Letters are taught using the basic letter shapes (printing). We do not introduce a cursive style until Year 1 (where appropriate).

Children learn about upper and lower-case letters. When writing their name they need to use a capital letter to begin, then lower-case e.g. Melanie.

We continue with skywriting, ‘finger-writing’ on each other’s backs, whiteboards, chalkboards, sand/salt trays, paper etc.

In Reception, when children are confident with their hand control they are introduced to writing letters on a line. Good handwriting relies on correct letter formation and we encourage correct pencil grip at all times (see picture above).

Mathematical development is EYFS

Some of you will already be familiar with Numicon as your child may well have already been introduced to it during their time in Nursery. For those of you new to Numicon, it can best be described as a multi-sensory maths teaching resource which will be used to support number development and particularly with calculation strategies. Children learn to associate a colour and shape with a particular number. This helps them to begin to recognise patterns in maths – a crucial skill.

numicon graphicNumicon pieces are made of coloured plastic shapes with arrangements of holes that correspond to the numbers 1 to 10. The pattern of the holes for each number follows the same basic system of arranging holes 'in pairs'. So when Numicon patterns are arranged in order, pupils begin to notice important connections between numbers for instance that each number is one more than the last and one fewer than the next, odd and even numbers and place value. Numicon is used to illustrate addition and subtraction, place value, doubling and halving, estimation, division, multiplication.

Fun with Maths
Children will learn that Maths is fun if they are given lots of practical experience and plenty of praise for effort.

Making learning fun at home and in everyday situations

Bath time fun
Talk about concepts and language such as hot/cold, wet/dry, in/out, up/down, full/empty.

Kitchen fun

  • Sort shopping by size, shape etc. and look at prices/barcodes.
  • Help with cooking, weighing, cutting.
  • Look at numbers on the clock/cooker/microwave etc.

Outdoors fun

  • Count steps, lamp-posts, bicycles, dogs etc.
  • Look at door numbers, number plates, street signs etc.
  • Talk about the different sizes of trees, fences etc.
  • Look at 2D and 3D shapes in the environment – windows, doors, tiles etc.

Home learning in the EYFS

In Reception, children are issued with games, books and library books to share at home. In addition we send home new sounds and words that have been taught so that you can reinforce the skills at home. We issue handwriting support sheets as required. On alternate weeks we issue a game to play at home which can be kept for a week. These games are designed to support your child in the early stages of their phonic or mathematical development. They contain resources and toys which need to be carefully used and returned intact. A charge will be made for any loss or damage to the equipment.