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Early Years Foundation Stage at St Finian's

“Children are powerful learners.  Every child can make progress in their learning with the right help.” Development Matters September 2020

Early childhood is the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives.  At St. Finian’s we greatly value the importance that the EYFS plays in laying secure foundations for future learning and development.  However, we also believe that early childhood is valid in itself as part of life.  It is important to view the EYFS as preparation for life and not simply preparation for the next stage of education. 

The EYFS is based upon four principles:

  • A Unique Child
  • Positive Relationships
  • Enabling Environments with teaching and support from adults
  • Learning and Development

A Unique Child

“Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.” ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’ July 2020

We recognise that children begin school with a wide variety of experiences and learning and it is the privilege of the adults working in the foundation stage to accept the task of building upon that prior learning experience. This is done through a holistic approach to learning, ensuring that parents and guardians and the Foundation Stage team work effectively together to support the learning and development of the children in their charge.

Positive Relationships

“Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.” ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’ July 2020

Children learn best when they are happy, settled and have a sense of belonging.  We value the importance of getting to know each child and their family on an individual basis and spend a great deal of time doing so at the start of each year.  This process starts with the home visits we make to every child in their home, the summer before they start school.  We also use Tapestry to record children’s achievements and progress and share these with their families through Tapestry.  Parents are also encouraged to upload photos and videos of their children from home to document their interests and achievements outside of school.


Enabling Environments with Teaching and Support from Adults

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 to build their learning over time.  Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.” ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’ July 2020

At St. Finian’s Catholic Primary School we have adopted a ‘workshop’ approach to the classroom organisation. Resources are organised to provide a wide range of areas, each promoting learning opportunities across some or all of the areas of experience.  All resources are freely available to the children at all times, which allows the children freedom to self-select their learning through following their interests. This is referred to as Continuous Provision which forms the basis of our Foundation Stage Curriculum.  We also have challenge displays that are changed regularly to extend challenge and therefore enhance learning.

The EYFS classroom and outdoor area provides opportunities to explore:

  • Role Play
  • IT
  • Construction
  • Maths
  • Books
  • Dough/clay/malleable
  • Small world
  • Mark making in all areas
  • Paint
  • Junk modelling
  • Woodwork
  • Cooking

Provision of this kind increases the opportunities for children to:

  • use their own initiative
  • become independent learners
  • make decisions about which activity to select and pursue
  • build on their own interests and previous experiences

Learning and Development

“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..”  ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’ July 2020

Learning and development is categorised into three prime areas of learning:

  • Communication and language.
  • Physical development.
  • Personal, social and emotional development.

Additionally there are four specific areas of learning:

  • Literacy.
  • Mathematics.
  • Understanding the world.
  • Expressive arts and design.

Achievement of these prime and specific areas of learning is by:

  • Playing and exploring.
  • Active learning.
  • Creating and thinking critically.


Our EYFS Curriculum


Observation, Planning and Assessment in EYFS

“Assessment is about noticing what children can do and what they know.  It is not about lots of data and evidence.” ‘Development Matters’ September 2020

Though quality interactions with the children and their Carers, staff, aim to:

  • Identify, support and extend each child’s intention.
  • Identify, support and extend those things that the child can nearly do.
  • Build on what the children know, understand, can do, want to know, and need to know.

Our observations inform assessment. We use Tapestry, an online learning journey, to record snapshot observations during our time with the children.  All members of staff in EYFS will observe and play alongside children to support, scaffold and extend learning through discussion and modelling.  Photos and videos are taken to record key moments to reflect this learning together which is shared with parents via Tapestry.  Through knowing each child well, all staff are tuned into each child’s next steps and this is reflected in the interaction with each child.

Every child in EYFS has two 'Spotlight Months'.  Prior to the 'Spotlight Month' we send out a letter to the parents informing them that their child will be one of our focus children and give them the opportunity to ask us any questions they may have regarding their child’s progress or highlight any areas that they would like us to focus on.  Each of the ‘Spotlight Children’ has a Tapestry observation which is added to throughout the month. All adults in the setting contribute to these.  Following the ‘Spotlight Month’ we offer the parents an opportunity to discuss the results and observations from the month.  We also add a narrative which details our assessments and observations of the child to date.  More information about our assessment cyle in EYFS can be found in the 'Assessment in EYFS Parent Information' document below. 

Discreet phonics sessions are delivered daily as soon as all children are full time and the duration of these sessions lengthens as the year progresses.  We use Letters and Sounds as a basis for planning the phonic sessions and opportunities to extend their phonic knowledge are provided within Continuous Provision during the week.

Each child has a dedicated display space in class with their family photo and name where they can choose to display pictures, writing and creations.  


Assessment in EYFS - Parent Information 

The 3 Ms!

In EYFS, we minimise the amount of time in which children are required to sit quietly and listen and maximise the amount of time that they are actively engaged in learning and play; we use the principles of the ‘3 Ms’ to facilitate and support learning through play. 

  • Making Conversation
  • Mark Making
  • Mathematics

These 3 Ms are always at the forefront of our minds when we play alongside children as well as our ideas about their next steps. This way we can move children’s learning forward whilst they play. 

Making Conversation

Talk and conversation is at the heart of Early Years and throughout St Finian’s.   There are lots of different types of talk, which participation in is crucial for child development.  

They are:

* Child Chat – child to child.  To facilitate and encourage this we create lots of ‘talk friendly spaces’ around the environment.  Dens, seating areas, cosy book area etc..

* Extending vocabulary through regular reading and book talk as well as poetry and story telling.

* Commentary play – where adults ‘think out loud’

* Modelling – listening, turn taking, asking for help, joining in etc.

* Pronunciation – talking correctly

Mark Making

This ‘M’ incorporates reading and writing.  We are always looking for opportunities to introduce writing or mark making into play. 

Below are some of the ways we do this:

* Mark making opportunities in all areas – shopping lists in cooking area, labelling in construction area, painting in art area etc.

*Using a variety of materials – chalk, paint brushes, pens, choice of paper, vertical surfaces etc..

* Message Centre – encouraging mark making and written communication without worrying about ‘getting it right’ or calling it a ‘writing or drawing area.

* Opportunities to practise skills taught in discreet phonics sessions


Maths is EVERYWHERE and should not be restricted to a ‘maths session’.  

* Construction offers opportunities to practise shape, position, ordering… Cooking offers opportunities for weighing, counting, number recognition… Outside offers shapes, ordering, weighing, comparing, position, counting, number recognition…

* Mathematical vocabulary is used and discussed all the time

* Maths is practical and real life not worksheets or recording in books

The 3 Additional Ms!

As well as 'sprinkling' the above 3 Ms over the childrens' play, there are 3 additional Ms which are just as important to child development.  They are:

  • Muscle and Movement - Importance of gross motor development which precedes the ability to hold a pencil and form letters – being physically active is encouraged all day, every day!  Our outdoor environment allows for children to balance, climb, dig, travel up and down slopes, lift heavy items etc… We are out there in all weathers!
  • Mindfulness - Sometimes children just need to be!
  • Magic - We see our job as being bringing magic to learning – they shouldn’t feel that school is being ‘done to them’!
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