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Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum


Our EYFS curriculum aims:

  1. To give children appropriate experiences to develop as confident, aspirational citizens
  2. To provide links with our local and wider community to make learning relevant and purposeful
  3. To provide a coherent and structured curriculum that blends skills and knowledge

Our drivers shape the curriculum, bring about the aims and values of the school and respond to the particular needs of our community:

Communication: we listen, express ourselves, collaborate and perform with confidence

Exploration: we are curious to dig deeper, make links and have new experiences

Creativity: we are reflective and use our imaginations to problem solve and create something new of value

As a Unicef Rights Respecting School, we promote children’s rights and the British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of others.

Our curriculum is based on research, with three main principles underpinning it:

  1. Learning is social. Children learn best when doing so with others. Lessons encourage interaction and collaboration.
  2. Learning is associative. Children are encouraged to look for links and build on their prior knowledge.
  3. Learning results in a change in long term memory and therefore cannot be assessed in the short term.


The continuous provision is linked to the needs and interests of the children in our setting.  It provides familiar areas for them to explore so, for the most part, our continuous provision areas stay the same, enhancing as children’s learning progresses.

Provision can be enhanced in a variety of ways:

  • Children’s interest
  • Theme or topic
  • Skills (joining, printing, cutting)
  • Basic Skills (elements of Literacy and Numeracy)
  • Direct challenge

Common Play Behaviours

Common play behaviours are the skills/equipment we might see children use in the different areas.

  • They are skills the children do in that area without an adult present
  • We then need to think about what we want to put into our areas to challenge that play behaviour. 
  • We also need to think about levelling that skill so that a range of children can access that skill at their developmental level.

Our long term plans show the progression of skills through continuous provision in our setting, from Nursery to Reception.  

The way we resource our areas of provision clearly shows the progressions of skills from Nursery to Reception.

‘The EYFS is about how children learn, as well as what they learn. Children need opportunities to develop their own play and independent exploration. This is enjoyable and motivating’ Development Matters 2021


Communication and language is a key part of our curriculum and is essential for our children. 

Adults are a key part of ensuring children are developing these skills at every opportunity.   Staff ensure ELKLAN strategies are used throughout the day promoting listening and attention, language and understanding skills.  Staff monitor their environment to assess areas being used for social interactions and conversations. 

Total communication

‘Communication is an essential part of everyday life. It is also a fundamental human right. It is our primary means of accessing and conveying information and expressing our needs and wants. It is how we explain our thoughts and emotions and interpret those of others, make choices, express feelings and build relationships. It forms the basis of how we interact socially with others.’

Promoting Learning and Positive Behaviour in the Home developed by the NCSE Behaviour Practitioner team.

At Stanley Grove we support the total communication approach. This means that we use and accept all types of communication, not just speech. This approach includes facial expression, body language, gesture, sign, sounds, symbols, written language, pictures, objects of reference and electronic aids

Some of the ways we may do this in EYFS is:

Using Gestures and signs

Using objectives of reference

Using Pictures and Picture exchange (PEC’s)

Using choice boards

Now and Next Boards

Visual timetable

“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” EYFS Statutory Framework 2020

Reading and Phonics

To support firm foundations in literacy, high-quality, age-appropriate modern and traditional fiction and non-fiction books are identified on the EYFS long-term plan. These books are read and re-read to the children at different times of the day. Some of the books are also used as stimuli for literacy lessons. The carefully planned list of literature ensures that all children are exposed to and become familiar with a wide range of books and stories, avoiding unnecessary repetition and ensuring increase in challenge from the beginning of Nursery to the end of Reception.


In Nursery there is a daily ‘Letters and Sounds’ (10 minute) session focusing on Phase 1. Sessions take place in groups of no more than 6 children throughout the day.  In the summer term, any children secure at Phase 1 are introduced to Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Phase 2. 

“The aim is to embed the Phase One adult-led activities in a language-rich provision that serves the best interests of the children by fully recognising their propensity for play and its importance in their development” (Letters and Sounds document)

In Reception there is a daily ‘Little Wandle’ (30 minute) whole class lesson (Phases 2 to 4). The expectation is that by the end of Reception all children, except those with significant additional needs, are secure at Phase 3 with some children secure at Phase 4. All children begin lessons at Phase 2, unless they have significant needs and therefore need to continue to access Phase 1 – this must be agreed with the phonics lead. All staff follow the ‘Little Wandle Phonics Teaching Sequence’.

The lowest 20% of children in Reception receive an additional daily Little Wandle ‘1-1 Tutoring’ session tailored to each child’s individual need.

“Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment” (Learning to read through phonics).

Shared Reading

This takes place daily where the teacher shares a book with the children and talks about the features of a book ie front cover, title, making predictions and models concepts about print such as left to right tracking and return sweep.  Throughout the week/s this develops into a discussion about character, settings etc.  The EYFS guidance curriculum is followed by moving through the age bands.  

Guided Reading

Children read Little Wandle Big Cat books linked to their current phonics teaching in small groups and this enables them to apply their new learning and to practise reading words in context and a teaching sequence is followed.  Every child is supported independently during every session.

Individual Reading and Home Reading

Staff listen to every child read at least once a week and change the child’s book. In Reception, children take a 100% phonically decodable book home, linked to their current learning in phonics, and a Little Wandle homework sheet, which covers the learning that has taken place that week.  They can also choose a book of their choice to take home and share with their parents. In Nursery, children are encouraged to take a book home from the books box containing story books that they can share with their family.

Story time

This takes place daily where the adult reads a story to the children and the children relax and enjoy listening.


Children use their phoneme knowledge and the skill of segmenting to write words in ways that match their spoken sounds. They also learn to spell and write some irregular common words. Children begin by writing words, sometimes as lists and labels, and they then write phrases and eventually write simple sentences which can be read and understood by themselves and others. The children’s writing often consists of a mixture of words spelt correctly and words spelt in a phonetically plausible way.

Typical behaviours that relate to handwriting for this learning goal:

•        Uses some clearly identifiable letters to communicate meaning, representing some sounds correctly and in sequence

•        Write own name and other things such as labels and captions

•        Attempt to write short sentences in meaningful context

•        Use a pencil and hold it effectively to form recognisable letters, most of which are formed correctly.

In Reception every child has a writing book.  Children begin their writing journey when they are considered to be developmentally ready.   


The ‘Penpals’ handwriting programme is followed throughout school and involves the use of digital resources to enable modelling and interactive learning. In EYFS, the focus is on readiness for handwriting, and gross and fine motor skills leading to letter formation (EYFS). The adults always model good handwriting and that handwriting is actively taught. The Penpals programme for EYFS is as follows:

•        Nursery – ‘Foundation 1’ to develop children’s large and small gross motor skills. These are delivered through provision.

•        Reception – ‘Foundation 2’ teaching children to write letter families in Autumn 2, Each week Reception complete the unit practically as a whole class as well as practicing independently in their workbook.

Whether jotting down a shopping list, writing a birthday card, taking down a phone message or completing a form, handwriting is an essential part of Stanley Grove children’s life.  Good handwriting remains fundamental to our children’s educational achievement and the Penpals programme supports us in teaching the children to develop fast, fluent, legible handwriting. It also follows the guidelines within EYFS National Framework. Using Penpals ensures a coherent whole-school approach to driving up handwriting standards.


Mathematics is essential to everyday life. A high-quality mathematics education therefore provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.  

The EYFS Framework 2021 aims for our pupils to: 

  • develop and improve their skills in counting 
  •  understand and use numbers  
  • calculate simple addition and subtraction problems 
  •  describe shapes, spaces, and measures. 

Mathematics is taught through an integrated approach and is initially developed through stories, songs, games, and imaginative play. A positive approach to maths around the classroom helps the children to relate mathematics to their everyday lives. The EYFS environment includes visual images, models, and resources to stimulate interest, both indoors and in the outdoors learning environment. Numicon and number blocks play a part in understanding the recognition of numbers and in developing an awareness of the relationship between numbers and amounts. 

In the Foundation Stage children are given the opportunity to develop their understanding through a combination of short and formal teaching as well as a range of planned structured play situations, where there is plenty of scope for exploration. At the start of each new topic, key vocabulary is introduced and revisited regularly to develop language acquisition, embedding as the topic progresses. Children are taught through clear modelling and have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts. The mastery approach incorporates using objects, pictures, words, and numbers to help children explore and demonstrate mathematical ideas. This helps to enrich their learning experience and deepen understanding at all levels. Children move through the different stages of their learning at their own pace. Children who have shown their understanding at a deep level within the unit, will have opportunities to apply these skills in other activities. This is challenging and ensures that children are using more than just one skill to be able to answer the mathematical problems.

Children in the early years develop mathematical concepts through Maths talk, practicing the skills they’ve learned during play, and developing number sense. As well as focused mathematics lessons, adults will be developing mathematical concepts during continuous provision, using careful questioning to explore and assess:

“I have made a pattern, what is your pattern?”
“How many blocks taller is my model compared to yours?”
“How do we know this area is full?”
“I have three cars, how many do you have?”
“Do you have more?”
“How do you know?”

At Stanley Grove, teachers use the ‘White Rose’ curriculum to support long term planning and resourcing Mathematics in the Early Years. This was introduced in September 2022. Prior to this, Maths No Problem was the scheme used throughout school.

Nursery – The Mathematics curriculum is delivered in small key person groups through practical activities and reinforced in provision. The content is drawn from the White Rose Curriculum and aims to prepare children for Reception whilst instilling a curiosity in mathematical concepts.

Reception – The Mathematics curriculum is delivered through whole class sessions, following White Rose unit plans.

Other Subjects in the Early Years

Our Early Years department provides the foundations in learning for all subject. We have subject leaders who work with their Key Stage 1 and 2 colleagues to ensure that the skills and knowledge taught in Nursery and Reception is built on in Years 1-6. ‘Bridging’ documents closely map how skills and component knowledge taught in Reception are developed in Year 1.

In the Early Years, children explore the wider curriculum, such a music, art and science through both continuous provision activities and direct adult instruction. Below are some examples of Science learning.

This video below shows Reception children exploring concepts of process art.

Proud to part of the Bright Futures Education Trust
Stanley Grove Primary Academy
Parry Road, Longsight
Manchester M12 4NL
Ofsted CEOP