Early Years Foundation Stage Framework from September 2021

Nursery and Reception Classes

Our foundation stage curriculum is based on the 2021 Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

The EYFS framework includes 7 areas of learning and development that are equally important and inter-connected. However, 3 areas known as the prime areas are seen as particularly important for igniting curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building children’s capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.

The prime areas are:

  • Communication and language

  • Physical development

  • Personal, social and emotional development

 The prime areas are strengthened and applied through 4 specific areas:

  • Literacy

  • Mathematics

  • Understanding the world

  • Expressive arts and design

Our curriculum aims to give all learners, particularly the most disadvantaged, the knowledge and skills they need to be ready for the demands of Key Stage One and beyond. We aim to support the learning of all children at every level through carefully planned activities and provision both indoors and outdoors, and most crucially, providing quality interactions between adults and children in order to effectively develop children’s vocabulary, knowledge and understanding. Nursery and reception staff work closely together to ensure that skills and knowledge taught is built upon throughout the foundation stage and all staff are trained appropriately so that there is consistency in planning, teaching and assessing children. 

Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.

A summary of the framework is outlined on this page.  To see the full framework please download the document below.

File icon: pdf Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework - Effective September 2021 [pdf 371KB] Click to download
File icon: pdf Development Matters - Non-statutory curriculum guidance for EYFS September 2020 [pdf 948KB] Click to download

Four Guiding Principles for the EYFS Framework

These are:

• Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured

• Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships

• Children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.

• Importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Communication and Language Development

The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children's language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.

Early Learning Goals - Listening, Attention and Understanding

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Listen attentively and respond to what they hear with relevant questions, comments and actions when being read to and during whole class discussions and small group interactions;

- Make comments about what they have heard and ask questions to clarify their understanding;

- Hold conversation when engaged in back-and-forth exchanges with their teacher and peers.

Early Learning Goals - Speaking

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Participate in small group, class and one-to-one discussions, offering their own ideas, using recently introduced vocabulary;

- Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate;

- Express their ideas and feelings about their experiences using full sentences, including use of past, present and future tenses and making use of conjunctions, with modelling and support from their teacher.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Underpinning their personal development are the important attachments that shape their social world. Strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults enable children to learn how to understand their own feelings and those of others. Children should be supported to manage emotions, develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own abilities, to persist and wait for what they want and direct attention as necessary. Through adult modelling and guidance, they will learn how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and manage personal needs independently. Through supported interaction with other children, they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably. These attributes will provide a secure platform from which children can achieve at school and in later life.

Early Learning Goals - Self-Regulation

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Show an understanding of their own feelings and those of others, and begin to regulate their behaviour accordingly;

- Set and work towards simple goals, being able to wait for what they want and control their immediate impulses when appropriate;

- Give focused attention to what the teacher says, responding appropriately even when engaged in activity, and show an ability to follow instructions involving several ideas or actions.

Early Learning Goals - Managing Self

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Be confident to try new activities and show independence, resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge;

- Explain the reasons for rules, know right from wrong and try to behave accordingly;

- Manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs, including dressing, going to the toilet and understanding the importance of healthy food choices.

Early Learning Goals - Building Relationships

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Work and play cooperatively and take turns with others;

- Form positive attachments to adults and friendships with peers;

- Show sensitivity to their own and to others’ needs.

Physical Development

Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, co-ordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both objects and adults. By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye co-ordination, which is later linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practice of using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.

Early Learning Goals - Gross Motor Skills

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Negotiate space and obstacles safely, with consideration for themselves and others;

- Demonstrate strength, balance and coordination when playing;

- Move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping, skipping and climbing.

Early Learning Goals - Fine Motor Skills

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Hold a pencil effectively in preparation for fluent writing

– using the tripod grip in almost all cases;

- Use a range of small tools, including scissors, paint brushes and cutlery;

- Begin to show accuracy and care when drawing.

Literacy

It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).

Early Learning Goals - Comprehension

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary;

- Anticipate – where appropriate – key events in stories;

- Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role-play.

Early Learning Goals - Word Reading

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs;

- Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending;

- Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.

Early Learning Goals - Writing

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed;

- Spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters;

- Write simple phrases and sentences that can be read by others.

Mathematics

Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting - children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.

Early Learning Goals - Number

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Have a deep understanding of number to 10, including the composition of each number;

- Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5;

- Automatically recall (without reference to rhymes, counting or other aids) number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some number bonds to 10, including double facts.

Early Learning Goals - Numerical Patterns

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Verbally count beyond 20, recognising the pattern of the counting system;

- Compare quantities up to 10 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity;

- Explore and represent patterns within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds, double facts and how quantities can be distributed equally.

Understanding the World

Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.

Early Learning Goals - Past and Present

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society;

- Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class;

- Understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class and storytelling.

Early Learning Goals - People, Culture and Communities

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps;

- Know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class;

- Explain some similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries, drawing on knowledge from stories, non-fiction texts and – when appropriate – maps.

Early Learning Goals - The Natural World

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Explore the natural world around them, making observations and drawing pictures of animals and plants;

- Know some similarities and differences between the natural world around them and contrasting environments, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class;

- Understand some important processes and changes in the natural world around them, including the seasons and changing states of matter.

Expressive Art and Design

The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.

Early Learning Goals - Creating with Materials

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function;

- Share their creations, explaining the process they have used;

- Make use of props and materials when role playing characters in narratives and stories.

Early Learning Goals - Being Imaginative and Expressive

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Invent, adapt and recount narratives and stories with peers and their teacher;

- Sing a range of well-known nursery rhymes and songs; Perform songs, rhymes, poems and stories with others, and – when appropriate – try to move in time with music.

Learning and Development Considerations

  • Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests, and development of each child in their care, and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all areas of learning and development.
  • Throughout the early years, if a child’s progress in any prime area gives cause for concern, practitioners must discuss this with the child’s parents and/or carers and agree how to support the child. Practitioners must consider whether a child may have a special educational need or disability which requires specialist support. They should link with, and help families to access, relevant services from other agencies as appropriate.
  • For children whose home language is not English, providers must take reasonable steps to provide opportunities for children to develop and use their home language in play and learning, supporting their language development at home. Providers must also ensure that children have sufficient opportunities to learn and reach a good standard in English language during the EYFS, ensuring children are ready to benefit from the opportunities available to them when they begin year 1.
  • In planning and guiding what children learn, practitioners must reflect on the different rates at which children are developing and adjust their practice appropriately.
  • Each child must be assigned a key person. Providers must inform parents and/or carers of the name of the key person, and explain their role.

Assessment

Assessment plays an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment (also known as formative assessment) is an integral part of the learning and development process. It involves practitioners knowing children’s level of achievement and interests, and then shaping teaching and learning experiences for each child reflecting that knowledge. In their interactions with children, practitioners should respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress and observations that parents and carers share.

Parents and/or carers should be kept up-to-date with their child’s progress and development. Practitioners should address any learning and development needs in partnership with parents and/or carers, and any relevant professionals. Assessment should inform an ongoing dialogue between practitioners and year 1 teachers about each child’s learning and development, to support a successful transition to key stage 1.

Early Years Learning Resources

Please use the link below to access our learning resources for Early Years topics.

External Link Icon EYFS Resources