St John's C of E Primary School

"Use your God-given gifts to serve others." 1 Peter 4: 10

Early Years


Teaching should not be taken to imply a “top down” or formal way of working. It is a broad term that covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language; showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas; encouraging, questioning, recalling; providing a narrative for what they are doing; facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment adults provide and the attention given to the physical environment, as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations. Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do, as well as taking account of their interests and dispositions to learn (characteristics of effective learning), and how practitioners use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.

Ofsted Early Years Inspection Handbook


In the Nursery and Reception classes, children are understood to develop at different rates. No two children in our EYFS started to walk or were weaned at the exact same moment, and so we appreciate that children develop differently. Our topics give a context in which children learn and develop, and the adults in the setting provide the environment and the interactions which help them to learn and grow across all areas of learning.

Early Years Topic and Vocabulary Overviews:

The EYFS is the foundation for children’s learning across the National Curriculum: this is where it begins. This document demonstrates the links that exist between the learning in EYFS and the rest of the school’s National Curriculum subjects. The three Prime areas, Personal, social and emotional development (PSED), Communication and language (CL), and Physical development (PD), describe universal core aspects of early child development.




This prime area links closely to the National Curriculum subject of PSHER.


Who we are (personal), how we get along with others (social) and how we feel (emotional) are foundations that form the bedrock of our lives. As we move through life, we are continually developing our sense of self as we weave a web of relationships with self, others and with the world. Personal, Social and Emotional Development is fundamental to all other aspects of lifelong development and learning, and is key to children’s wellbeing and resilience. For babies and young children to flourish, we need to pay attention to how they understand and feel about themselves, and how secure they feel in close relationships: in so doing they develop their capacities to make sense of how they and other people experience the world. Children’s self-image, their emotional understanding and the quality of their relationships affect their self-confidence, their potential to experience joy, to be curious, to wonder, and to face problems, and their ability to think and learn. A holistic, relational approach creates an environment that enables trusting relationships, so that children can do things independently and with others, forming friendships. Early years practitioners meet the emotional needs of children by drawing on their own emotional insight, and by working in partnership with families to form mutually respectful, warm, accepting relationships with each of their key children.


By the end of Reception, children working at the expected level will reach these ELGs (early learning goals):


Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Understanding emotions




This prime area links with the National Curriculum subjects of PSHER and PE.


Intricately interwoven with emotional, social, cognitive and language development, physical development underpins all other areas of a child’s learning and development. Extensive physical experience in early childhood puts in place the neurological, sensory and motor foundations necessary for feeling good in your body and comfortable in the world. The intimate connection between brain, body and mind must be understood; when they are viewed as one system, the impacts of active physical play, health and self-care are observed and the effects on a child’s early brain development and mental health of adverse childhood experience, including malnutrition, illness or neglect, is recognised. Health, wellbeing and self-care are integral to physical development. Prioritising care opportunities and a collaborative approach with young children supports development of lifelong positive attitudes to self-care and healthy decision-making. Each child’s journey relies on whole-body physical experiences. While biologically programmed, the unfolding of this complex, interconnected system requires repeated movement experiences that are self initiated and wide-ranging. Fine and gross motor control must develop together in an integrated way, so that the child can achieve what they set out to do. We must ensure that children have movement-rich lives indoors and outdoors from birth. This includes the role of the adult’s body as an enabling environment itself, embedding movement into everything, and encouraging each child’s own motivations for being active and interactive with others.


By the end of Reception, children working at the expected level will reach these ELGs (early learning goals):


Physical Development: Moving and handling


Physical Development: Health and self-care




This area links with the National Curriculum subject of English.


Experiences in the womb lay the foundation for communication, and a baby’s voice is evident from the beginning. Babies use their bodies, facial expressions, gestures, sounds and movements to seek connections and respond to those around them. Young children depend on back-and-forth interactions with responsive others to develop confidence as effective communicators and language users. Communication and language development are closely intertwined with physical, social and emotional experiences. Communication and language lay a foundation for learning and development, guiding and supporting children’s thinking while underpinning their emerging literacy. Language is more than words. As children grow, they begin to be aware of and explore different sounds, symbols and words in their everyday worlds; a language-rich environment is crucial. A child’s first language provides the roots to learn additional languages, and parents should be encouraged to continue to use their home languages to strengthen and support their children’s language proficiency as they join new environments. Children’s skills develop through a series of identifiable stages which can be looked at in three aspects – Listening and Attention, Understanding, and Speaking. While not all children will follow the exact same sequence or progress at the same rate, it is important to identify children at risk of language delay or disorder as these can have an ongoing impact on wellbeing and learning across the curriculum.


By the end of Reception, children working at the expected level will reach these ELGs (early learning goals):


Communication and Language: Listening and attention


Communication and Language: Understanding

Communication and Language: Speaking




This area links to the National Curriculum subjects of: Geography, History, Science, PSHER, Computing and RE


Understanding the World provides a powerful, meaningful context for learning across the curriculum. It supports children to make sense of their expanding world and their place within it through nurturing their wonder, curiosity, agency and exploratory drive. This development requires regular and direct contact with the natural, built and virtual environments around the child and engaging children in collaborative activities which promote inquiry, problem solving, shared decision making and scientific approaches to understanding the world. Active involvement in local community life helps children to develop a sense of civic responsibility, a duty to care, a respect for diversity and the need to work for peaceful co-existence. In addition, first-hand involvement in caring for wildlife and the natural world provides children with an appreciation of ecological balance, environmental care and the need to live sustainable lives. Rich play, virtual and real world experiences support learning about our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world and how to stay safe within it. They also cultivate shared meanings and lay the foundation for equitable understandings of our interconnectedness and interdependence.


By the end of Reception, children working at the expected level will reach these ELGs (early learning goals):


Links to National Curriculum subjects Y1-Y6


History: Understanding the World- People and Communities


Geography & RE: Understanding the World- People and Communities


Science: Understanding the World- The World


Computing: Understanding the World- Technology




This area links to National Curriculum subjects: Art & Design, DT, Drama, Dance, Music


Children and adults have the right to participate in arts and culture. Expression conveys both thinking (ideas) and feeling (emotion). Children use a variety of ways to express and communicate, through music, movement and a wide range of materials. Creative thinking involves original responses, not just copying or imitating existing artworks. Expressive Arts and Design fosters imagination, curiosity, creativity, cognition, critical thinking and experimentation and provides opportunities to improvise, collaborate, interact and engage in sustained shared thinking. It requires time, space and opportunities to re-visit and reflect on experiences. Multi-sensory, first-hand experiences help children to connect and enquire about the world. Appreciating diversity and multiple perspectives enriches ways of thinking, being, and understanding. Skills are learned in the process of meaning-making, not in isolation


By the end of Reception, children working at the expected level will reach these ELGs (early learning goals):


Links to National Curriculum subjects Y1-Y6:


Art & Design: Expressive Arts and Design- Creating with Materials


Music, Dance, Drama: Expressive Arts and Design- Being Imaginative & Expressive




This links to the National Curriculum subject: Mathematics.


Mathematics for young children involves developing their own understanding of number, quantity, shape and space. Babies and young children have a natural interest in quantities and spatial relations – they are problem-solvers, pattern-spotters and sense-makers from birth. This curiosity and enjoyment should be nurtured through their interactions with people and the world around them, drawing on their personal and cultural knowledge. Every young child is entitled to a strong mathematical foundation which is built through playful exploration, apprenticeship and meaning-making. Children should freely explore how they represent their mathematical thinking through gesture, talk, manipulation of objects and their graphical signs and representations, supported by access to graphic tools in their pretend play. Effective early mathematics experiences involve seeking patterns, creating and solving mathematical problems and engaging with stories, songs, games, practical activities and imaginative play. Plenty of time is required for children to revisit, develop and make sense for themselves. This is supported by sensitive interactions with adults who observe, listen to and value children’s mathematical ideas and build upon children’s interests, including those developed with their families. It is crucial to maintain children’s enthusiasm so they develop positive self-esteem as learners of mathematics and feel confident to express their ideas.


By the end of Reception, children working at the expected level will reach these ELGs (early learning goals):





This links to the National Curriculum subject: English


Literacy is about understanding and being understood. Early literacy skills are rooted in children’s enjoyable experiences from birth of gesturing, talking, singing, playing, reading and writing. Learning about literacy means developing the ability to interpret, create and communicate meaning through writing and reading in different media, such as picture books, logos, environmental print and digital technologies. It involves observing and joining in the diverse ways that different people and communities use literacy for different purposes. Most importantly, literacy is engaging, purposeful and creative. Developing literacy competence and skills is a complex, challenging yet rewarding journey that requires high-quality pedagogical activities to enhance learning. Young children need to be listened to by attentive adults who recognise and value children’s choices. They need enjoyable, playful opportunities of being included and involved in the literacy practices of their home, early years setting, and community environments. They need experiences of creating and sharing a range of texts in a variety of ways, with different media and materials, with adults and peers, both indoors and outdoors, as well as learning about using different signs and symbols, exploring sound and developing alphabetic and phonetic skills.


By the end of Reception, children working at the expected level will reach these ELGs (early learning goals):'


Literacy: Reading

Literacy: Writing


The role of subject leaders across the school.

Subject leaders lead from Nursery to Year 6. Whilst subjects in Year 1-Year 6 are planned out in terms of what children will know, be able to do, and understand at the end of each topic; planning in EYFS is based on where the children are at any given time. Learning is “bottom-up” as opposed to “top down” and staff in EYFS use any and all contexts in which to develop children’s learning across the EYFS curriculum. However, each subject leader knows what their subject looks like in EYFS, and how well the children progress and achieve within it.

Early Years Curriculum