Early Years

‘The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.’
Maria Montessori


At St Mary’s we believe in fostering an environment that nurtures the growth and development of our young learners, instilling in them a strong foundation built upon the core values of hope, wisdom, respect, and community. These values are not only significant during their time in the Early Years but also serve as guiding principles throughout their entire educational journey and beyond.


Hope is a vital value that we encourage all our pupils to embrace. We believe in nurturing a sense of optimism, resilience, and ambition within each child. By promoting hope, we inspire our young learners to approach challenges with enthusiasm, determination, and a belief in their own abilities. We strive to create an atmosphere where children feel supported and encouraged to take risks and explore new possibilities, knowing that they are valued members of our school community.


Wisdom is a value that underpins our holistic approach to education. We endeavour to equip our pupils with the knowledge, skills, and understanding necessary to make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of life. In the Early Years, this is facilitated through a play-based curriculum that allows children to explore, investigate, and discover the world around them. We encourage curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving, fostering a love for learning that will stay with them as they progress through their academic journey.


Respect is a fundamental value at St Mary's, forming the basis of positive relationships amongst our pupils, staff, and wider community. We promote a culture of inclusivity, kindness, and empathy, where everyone feels valued and respected for who they are. In the Early Years, we focus on teaching children to appreciate diversity, embrace differences, and treat others with kindness and consideration. Through our actions and interactions, we aim to foster an environment where respect for oneself, others, and the world around us is at the forefront of all that we do.


Building a strong sense of community is at the heart of our school ethos. We believe in the power of collaboration, teamwork, and shared responsibility. In the Early Years, we encourage children to develop a sense of belonging and connection within their immediate environment, as well as the wider community. We actively involve parents, carers, and local organisations in our activities, as we recognize that the support and involvement of our community play a crucial role in shaping our pupils’ educational experience.


In the EYFS at St. Mary’s Primary School, we provide our children with a curriculum that is designed to be flexible, engaging and exciting so that their unique needs, passions and interests are embraced. Every child is recognised as a unique individual and we celebrate and welcome differences within our school community. We believe that our children need to feel safe, respected and loved in order for them to be ready to thrive and learn. We achieve this through our distinctive Christian ethos, school behaviour policy and the support and care our staff all provide for every child and their families.

The ability to learn is underpinned by our school values of Hope, Wisdom, Community and Respect and the teaching of basic skills and knowledge that equips our children to build resilience, ambition and a lifelong love of learning.

Our EYFS curriculum is designed to capture pupil’s interests, prior learning from previous settings and their experiences at home. We support learning, consolidate and depend knowledge and ensure children make progress from their starting points.

We intend to:

Work in partnership with parents and carers to encourage independent, happy learners who thrive in school. 

Provide our children with a wide range of rich, first hand experiences to take the curriculum beyond the classroom.

Provide purposeful, enticing and well planned indoor and outdoor environments, which supports learning in all areas of the curriculum.

Carefully structure opportunities for children to engage in activities planned by adults and those that they plan or initiate themselves.

Prepare children to reach the Early Learning goals at the end of the Foundation Stage and ensure children make at least good progress from their starting points

Support transition into Key Stage One.

In Reception, we meet the welfare requirements laid down in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. We actively safeguard and promote the welfare of all of our pupils. We recognise that pupils will learn most effectively when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met and when they have positive relationships with the adults who care for them. We aim to provide a setting that encompasses a safe and stimulating environment where children are able to enjoy learning and grow in confidence and independence.  

Reception class follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and work towards the Early Learning Goals.

The seven areas of learning are:  

·         Personal, Social and Emotional Development 

·         Physical Development  

·         Communication and Language development  

·         Literacy  

·         Mathematics

·         Understanding the World  

·         Expressive Arts and Design

The core aim of the Foundation Stage is to provide a strong and solid platform providing children with an appropriate learning programme to develop their dispositions to learn and to afford them with the skills and competencies they will need to succeed in school and future life. Children in Reception class learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside. Our outdoor areas are used all year round. We ensure activities support the Characteristics of Effective Learning to ensure learning takes place. These are:  

Playing and Exploring – children investigate and experience things, and have a go. 

Active Learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements.

Creating and Thinking Critically – children have and develop their own ideas; make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.

Our themes are driven from child-centred topics based on providing our pupils with ‘enticing experiences’ which motivate the children, and are deeply rooted in the love of stories and reading. It is a broad, balanced and progressive learning environment and curriculum for all of our pupils.

Effective continuous provision practise and principles support our children to develop key life skills such as independence, innovation, creativity, enquiry, analysis and problem solving. During the school day, children will have an opportunity to work independently, work collaboratively with their friends and with members of staff.

We keep parents informed through weekly overviews; this gives parents the opportunity to know exactly what their children are learning and therefore encourages conversations and support from home.  We hold two parent teacher consultations a year and parents can make additional appointments with the class teacher in order to support each step of their journey.

To support transition from Nursey to Reception we hold ‘play and learn’ sessions in the summer term, nursery and home visits. We also support the transition into Key Stage 1 by ensuring the environments are similar at the end of the EYFS and the start of Year 1 and plan and prepare visits to their new class. These aim to support the transition for all.

We strive to ensure that our children’s progress across the EYFS curriculum is good from the varied stating points. We also strive for children to reach the Early Learning Goals at the end of Reception and to be at least in line with National Expectations and other schools within the trust. Evidence in children’s learning journals support all areas of the EYFS curriculum.

All ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. Practitioners draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements through discussions with other practitioners in school and within the trust. Phonic assessments are carried out at the end of each phase and support measures are put in place to identify pupils that are not making expected progress.

Assessments are completed on Arbor three times per year and shared with parents. In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where teacher judge whether the child has met each of the 17 ELG’s. They will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected.’ Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers, have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher. Impact is also evident through our successful transitions into Year 1. EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s link to the National Curriculum, and through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects – both prime and specific, children leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey as scientists, historians, artists and geographers.