The Russell School

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Our Early Years Curriculum - Intent

We understand that all children join us with individual needs and at different starting points and we aim to plan for and support them appropriately. Staff work hard to ensure that the curriculum we provide enables children to reach their potential and continue to be successful learners, once moving into Key stage 1.

We provide a curriculum that is designed to engage and stimulate our learners at all stages. The school focuses on Early Years Foundation Stage and the 7 key areas of learning and offers a broad and balanced curriculum. During their time in the foundation stage, we aim to develop the whole child through careful planning that reflects their individual needs and interests.

As well as focusing on core skills for all, we ensure that we nurture the individual needs of the cohort. Staff carefully consider the social, moral, spiritual, and cultural development and plan in activities and routines to support children’s understanding beyond their immediate environment and the local community. 

Our Early Years Curriculum - Implementation

The implementation of the curriculum is led by experienced practitioners across Nursery and Reception. The teaching of these areas of learning is practical, playful, and inclusive with support and challenge from adults in class sessions, small groups and working with

individuals. There is a combination of adult-led, teacher taught sessions as well as a wealth of stimulating, enhanced continuous provision opportunities when adults scaffold learning through skilful interactions and questioning.

As a starting point a yearly map of key skills is created; showing planned opportunities for all seven areas of learning: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, Physical development, Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. Staff will use this to inform half termly planning, where topics and children’s interests are a focus. The weekly plans take into account the ever changing

interests of the children and staff use this as an opportunity build on topic ideas. We take into account children’s prior knowledge, ensuring we are always moving our children’s learning forward.

Throughout all areas of learning and at the heart of our EYFS curriculum are the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’.  We strive to develop these key characteristics of ‘Playing and Learning’, ‘Active Learning’ and ‘Thinking Critically’ in order to give children the skills that they will continue to draw upon throughout their development and future lives.

Both the indoor and outdoor learning environments are the hub for our children’s learning.

It is important to us that we ensure children have a safe and stimulating space, which is accessible to and challenges all children, regardless of where they are on their developmental journey. The learning environments provide children with opportunities to explore, apply and develop their skills independently and confidently with the necessary level of support and challenge. These learning environments are adapted regularly to meet the different and developing needs of the children in our care.  Teachers plan active, exciting lessons to engage learners and scaffold the skills they need in order for the children to apply these in their learning environment.


Children’s phonic knowledge is developed through daily phonic lessons, adapted from the LCP scheme of work. Where possible, children who need further support work in a smaller focus group during the lesson. Children have the opportunity to apply new sounds taught during carefully planned out follow up activities. Sounds are revisited outside of the designated lesson to ensure all children maintain phoneme awareness. 

Communication & Language/Literacy) is taught using key texts that are linked to the topic or theme, where appropriate and support development towards the end Early Learning Goal (ELG) requirements. Teachers ensure they provide a variety of fiction and non-fiction books to stimulate learning across all seven areas. We actively promote a love of reading within the children and seek to immerse the children in stories and books in all aspects of their learning.

Maths is taught through daily adult led sessions. As well as the development matters document, teachers use the White Rose scheme of Learning to ensure core skills are developed.  Teaching includes the use of concrete resources and fun, practical activities.

Opportunities for children to embed their mathematical learning are provided through well planned continuous provision. Staff model the use of mathematical language and provide ‘open questioning’ to extend the children’s knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts.

Children have access to a well- resourced outdoor learning area and in addition they access the  ‘outdoor classroom’ situated in the whole school grounds.

Within our Early Years Curriculum, children are assessed continuously through accurate observations. These observations provide us with information for immediate and future planning, not only for our classes but also for individual children’s next steps in their learning.

‘Evidence Me’ is used to capture the wonderful learning taking place to build online learning journals. Staff make regular observations and link those observations to the development matters statements.

The online learning journals build evidence to demonstrate the children’s learning and progress over time. This helps staff to generate personalised future learning for children. Parents have the opportunity to contribute to their child’s ‘Learning Journal’ with ‘Magic Moments’ throughout the year and can make observations of their child’s learning and development at home and share these using the ‘Evidence Me’ learning platform every half term.  Staff share ‘Next Steps’ with parents through the electronic journal half termly and termly, during parent consultation meetings.  Leaders monitor the quality and impact of the EYFS curriculum through regular ‘Pupil Voice’ and ‘Pupil Progress’ meetings with the EYFS team.

We understand the vital role parents play in their child’s learning journey. We know how important it is to work in partnership with our families to ensure children feel settled, safe, and happy in our care. Across the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) we host open mornings and invite families in to celebrate and actively share the learning taking place in class. We plan for and run workshops for phonics to provide parents with ways to support their child at home.

Learning is also celebrated via the school’s Twitter page. We provide parents with the opportunity to celebrate and share their child’s achievements at home. Parents complete ‘Magic Moment’ emails / slips that staff share and celebrate with children’s peers in class.

Our Early Years Curriculum - Impact

The impact of our curriculum is measured by assessment procedures which allow us to measure outcomes against all schools nationally. In class, children will demonstrate high levels of engagement in their learning. They will leave the early years confident communicators, having had a wide range of experiences in varying contexts.

Periodic assessments will show that children are making good progress, based on their starting points and we are narrowing any gaps in their learning and attainment. Planning is adapted according to needs identified from assessments.

SEND and Disadvantaged Pupils

Our ambition is for all of our pupils to access the full EYFS Curriculum.  Disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND will be supported to provide them with full accessibility to all aspects of the EYFS provision.

Children leave Reception having achieved a ‘good level of development’ (GLD) and with the core skills needed to transition into Year  1. Where children do not attain the ‘good level of development’ we strive to help them achieve the prime areas of learning that will underpin their future achievement.

Staff will have a sound understanding of where children are at the end of the foundation stage and communicate this effectively to parents and Year 1 staff.

Early Years Foundation Stage 

The three prime areas are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development

There are also four specific areas through which the prime areas are strengthened and applied:

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

The EYFS is underpinned by four overarching principles which acknowledge that each child is a unique and constant learner and needs to grow and develop through forming positive relationships in an enabling environment.  In addition, children develop and learn at different rates and thus the framework supports the learning of all children including those with special needs and disabilities.

 Prime Areas of Learning 

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

  • Making relationships: Children form positive relationships and learn to work and play together cooperatively. They learn to take account of the ideas of peers and show sensitivity to the needs of others.
  • Self-confidence and self awareness: Children will be encouraged to be confident to speak in a group and to express their ideas and needs.  They will have opportunities to discuss ideas, choices and feelings.
  • Managing feelings and behaviour: Children will learn about their emotions and the feelings of others. They will learn to work as part of a group or a class.  They will understand rules and boundaries.

Physical Development

  • Moving and Handling: Children will learn to improve their coordination, control, manipulation and gross and fine motor skills.
  • Health and self-care: Children will learn about the importance of good health, physical exercise and a healthy diet.  They will learn to manage their own hygiene and personal needs.

Communication and Language

  • Listening and Attention: Children will learn to listen to each other and adults, individually, and in small and large groups. They are given daily opportunities to listen and join in with stories and rhymes.
  • Understanding: Children will develop understanding of language through play and exploration and targeted interventions. They will have the opportunity to respond to questions.
  • Speaking: Children will be given a rich range of real experiences and activities to talk about. They will take part in planning and recall activities enabling them to talk about past experiences and plan the future.


Specific Areas of Learning


For both reading and writing children will develop phonic knowledge that will enable them to decode, read and write words. Phonics will take place through a range of learning experiences e.g. listening activities, songs, rhymes and playing with language throughout the EYFS.

Reading: Children will learn the skills they need to be a reader and to love books, they will borrow books to be read to them at home and enjoy daily stories at school. They will become familiar with print and talk about their reading.

Writing: Children will apply their phonic knowledge to their writing.  They will write what is meaningful to them and be able to read it. They will learn to write words and simple sentences. 


In the EYFS children’s mathematical understanding develops through active learning, play and exploration.

  • Number: Children will learn to count reliably, order numbers, calculate, problem solve and use mathematical language.
  • Shape, space and measure: Children will learn about weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money. They will explore, recognise, create and describe patterns and shapes.

Understanding the World

  • People and Communities: Children will celebrate diversity and be aware of the similarities and differences between themselves and others.  They will be aware of events from the past and present. 
  • The World: Children will explore their local environment and be able to identify features.  They will know about the similarities and differences of both living and non-living things.  They will be able to explain why things happen.
  • Technology: Children will learn to use a range of new technology and be able to select equipment for a specific purpose.

 Expressive Arts and Design

  • Exploring and using media and materials; Children will explore a range of materials, tools and techniques.  They have daily opportunities to experiment with colour, design, texture and form.
  • Being Imaginative; Children will be encouraged and supported to express themselves imaginatively through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories. 

Learning opportunities are carefully planned to engage and challenge all children. The children will experience a range of activities, indoors and outdoors, to develop skills, knowledge and independence. They learn actively within a strong routine.

We ensure that these opportunities are across the seven areas of the curriculum. We are committed to enabling every child to become independent, enthusiastic learners with a range of skills that they can draw upon and develop throughout their schooling. We strive to enable every child to make good or better progress, from their own starting points, by the end of Reception.

In all areas there is a strong emphasis on active learning, play and exploration, and creating and thinking critically.  


We value phonics as an essential tool for the development of literacy skills. In Early Years, staff are trained to deliver daily, systematic high quality phonics, using the Letters and Sounds guidance as a basis for planning and assessment. Please visit the Phonics page for more information. 

The following websites have excellent phonics activities:

 How can I find out more?

For more information about the Early Years Curriculum, Framework and Assessment, use the following website which has a parent friendly guide: