Leigh St Mary's Church of England Primary School

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Early Years Foundation Stage

Early Years Foundation Stage – Intent Statement

At Leigh St Mary’s we know that the reception year (also know as the Early Years Foundation Stage) is a critical year for pupils. We have the highest expectations for all children, whatever their starting points. The solid foundations for learning, emotionally and academically, that they build will support them for their rest of their lives. Our curriculum is purposely and carefully planned with reading and books at its heart. Our core text spine, regular story, rhyme and singing times aim to engage and inspire readers and create a love of reading for life. We want children to become independent readers themselves which will enable them to unlock the curriculum throughout their educational journey.


Through enriching learning experiences, purposeful play opportunities and high quality interactions, we want children to experience awe and wonder in the world around them, near and far. We celebrate our local environment, cultural differences and the wider world we live in.


We are an emotionally-friendly school and we know that positive relationships are critical to our children’s well-being. We provide a safe but stimulating environment where self-confidence, resilience, curiosity and independence are developed and nurtured.


Early Years Foundation Stage – Implementation:

At Leigh St Mary’s we work with Development Matters September 2023 and The EYFS Statutory Framework January 2024. The Reading Frameworks 2021 and 2023 are also important. Our curriculum is designed to be ambitious, creative and purposeful. Learning is planned through play and carefully designed activities. These are led by highly trained staff who scaffold learning and challenge pupils through observations, questioning and high-quality back and forth conversations. Our curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced to build on what children know and can do and to extend them to fulfil their individual potential. 

Children work towards the Early Learning Goals in seven areas of learning.

Three Prime Areas:

  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development


Four Specific Areas:

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


The three Prime areas underpin all areas of learning and the curriculum is designed to maximise opportunities to develop these skills.


Communication and Language underpins all learning and is promoted through high quality conversation with children with new and ambitious vocabulary being introduced and embedded constantly. Reading and the opportunity to share books is everywhere! Children have regular story times, singing and book talk opportunities where a plethora of high-quality texts are shared. Children are encouraged to role play, share ideas and use an increasingly rich variety of vocabulary and sentence structures. The WellComm Toolkit is used to support language development.


Personal, Social and Emotional Development is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Relationships are key at Leigh St. Mary’s: from a full transition programme before children start school to the daily interactions in class, pupils are offered a safe, secure and warm environment. This is achieved through children being supported to recognise and deal with emotions, developing a positive sense of self and having an increasing level of confidence in their own abilities. The Think Equal PSHE scheme supports this in discrete, taught sessions via a collection of books and stories.


Physical Development includes children’s gross motor and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Children have the opportunity to manipulate larger tools and equipment, lift, stack and move crates and blocks and ride balance bikes. Fine motor control helps with hand-eye co-ordination, which supports 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.


The four specific areas help strengthen and develop the three prime areas and ignite children’s curiosity and enthusiasm.


Literacy – Leigh St. Mary’s places reading at the core of the curriculum. As well as teaching the ‘mechanics’ of reading via Sounds Write, a love of reading is promoted in school and permeates every environment. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. 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. Word reading (decoding) is taught using our systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme, Sounds Write. Pupils practise early reading skills taught in school via a precisely matched phonics text. Writing is taught via Sounds Write (linking sounds and letters) and by using a core book spine of high quality texts to encourage creative thinking and writing composition.


Mathematics – Children develop a strong understanding of numbers to 10 in the reception year. The Ark maths curriculum begins here and progresses to Year 6. Children are taught to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. Early mathematics is highly practical; resources such as Numicon, tens frames and counters help children to build and apply their understanding. 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’, discuss and not be afraid to make mistakes.


Understanding the World – our reception curriculum builds on children’s understanding of the world, wherever their starting points may be. We support children to make sense of the physical world and their community. Science, local history and geography, cultural events and the religious calendars are key as well as regular visits to the parish church, library and Turnpike museum. Reading plays an important role in this area: a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems fosters understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world.


Expressive Arts and Design – the Arts has a high profile throughout Leigh St. Mary’s. In reception, the development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. Children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials (both indoors and outdoors). They develop their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through a wide variety of opportunities offered. These include music with Chime, art projects, role play and dressing up activities and a variety of musical instruments available to experiment with.