Early Years Foundation Stage

It is our mission to offer every child a high-quality early years education in a supportive, safe and challenging environment in which they feel valued and are inspired to become life-long learners who aim to ‘Be the best they can be’.

The Curriculum: What we want children to learn

Teaching in the EYFS is delivered in accordance with the government’s statutory document ’The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’. This document states that four guiding principles should shape practice in every early years setting. 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 build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents/carers.
  • 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.

The curriculum is centred on 3 prime areas of learning:

Communication and Language

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Physical Development

And 4 specific areas which strengthen the prime areas. These are:



Understanding the World

Expressive Arts and Design

These areas of Learning and Development address children’s physical, cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional development. No one aspect of development stands in isolation from the others as all Areas of Learning and Development are closely interlinked. This ensures the delivery of a holistic, child-centred curriculum which allows children to make lots of links between what they are learning. All areas of Learning and Development are given equal weighting and value.

We designed our curriculum with the strengths and needs of the children of Southmere in mind. Our broad, rich and balanced Early Years curriculum provides a context to develop personal, social and emotional skills, communication and language skills, and physical skills, and apply and practice those skills, particularly in reading and oracy.

Many children are multilingual: we celebrate the different languages and also put a strong focus on helping children to learn English, as well as teaching early Spanish which sets the foundations for MFL in Key Stage 1 and 2.

We recognise that many children may have limited access to open green spaces therefore we offer lots of learning outdoors to build children’s confidence and physical strength and co-ordination, for example through our outdoor continuous provision as well as recently introduced Forest School sessions.

To promote a rich and varied vocabulary, we provide a language rich environment, which gives opportunities for children to experience new and imaginative vocabulary.  We plan specific activities to develop and extend the children’s vocabulary through direct vocabulary teaching in Talk for Writing sessions, book sharing, role-play, child initiated activities and when using the outdoor area.  To further deepen the understanding of children’s learning, staff in EYFS are expected to use the ‘ShREC’ approach, as highlighted by the Education Endowment Foundation, to ensure high-quality interactions throughout everyday practice.


Daily Phonics lessons begin in Nursery where children develop the knowledge, skills and understanding to use and discriminate between auditory, environmental and instrumental sounds through 7 Aspects:

  • Environmental Sounds
  • Instrumental Sounds
  • Body Percussion
  • Rhythm and Rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Voice Sounds
  • Oral Blending and Segmenting

Phonics teaching in Nursery is carefully planned and provides children with opportunities to:

• listen attentively;
• enlarge their vocabulary;
• speak confidently to adults and other children;
• discriminate between different sounds including phonemes;
• reproduce audibly the phonemes they hear in words;
• orally segment words into phonemes.

In Reception, we use the DfE validated SSP programme Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS). ELS whole class, daily phonics teaching begins from the first days of Reception to ensure children build an immediate understanding of the relationship between the sounds they hear and say (phonemes) and the written sounds (graphemes). Phonics lessons are delivered to the whole class, using the same teaching sequence – Show, copy, repeat – until each child is independent.

More information, including the teaching progression and pronunciation videos, can be found on our Phonics page which can be accessed here

Children who encounter difficulties are supported by the teacher and support staff throughout the lesson, and where further support is required, ELS has three 1-1 interventions to ensure that any learning gaps are quickly addressed: Oral Blending; Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondence (GPC) recognition; and Blending for Reading.