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Early Years Foundation Stage

Early Years at Thornhill Primary School


In Reception at Thornhill Primary School we believe in creating collaborative and respectful partnerships between practitioners, children and parents/carers. Our aim is to establish an environment filled with awe and wonder, to provide a high-quality Early Years education based upon purposeful play, meaningful experiences (providing opportunities for cultural capital), and high-quality interactions between children and practitioners. Above all, we intend to create an environment that meets the needs of all children. Our vision is underpinned by the school values of stewardship, responsibility, acceptance, reflection, openness and aspiration. We believe in working together to be the best that we can be.


Our learning environment


We believe in establishing an environment full of awe and wonder. We aspire to create an environment which enables all children to have the freedom to learn through play, supporting them in their learning, development and emotional security.


Our learning environment should:

· Be calm and purposeful.  

· Be inspirational.

· Include objects, experiences and items to generate interest and spark conversation (in order to develop children’s speaking and listening skills, as well as furthering their vocabulary).

· Provide the conditions necessary for children to develop skills to enable them to communicate their needs, negotiate, plan, create and furthermore, provide challenge.

· Contain resources that are open-ended and support children to be inquisitive learners and think critically.

· Allow children to apply and develop their skills.

· Be valued by all and be everyone’s responsibility


Our children


We believe learning is achievable and it should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all.


We aim for our children to:

· Have high aspirations themselves and their peers.

· Feel happy, healthy, eager and confident with high self-esteem and self-worth.

· Know that they are valued and have a voice.

· Be independent, curious, imaginative, reflective and resilient learners – unafraid to take risk and challenge themselves.

· Develop into lifelong learners, with a love of learning that is built on throughout their time with us.

· Establish trusting, considerate, and thoughtful relationships with each other, allowing them to learn collaboratively.

· Feel empowered to meet their own needs – as leaders in their own learning.


Our Practitioners


Practitioners in Early Years refers to all adults within the base. Teaching Assistants and Teachers are valuable facilitators of learning.  


Practitioners should:

· Take the time to stop, look and listen and reflect.

· Guide and challenge our children subtly in and out of play-based or adult-led scenarios.

· Be at the heart of a child’s learning through openness, clear communication, positive actions and careful negotiations.

· Be a partner in a child’s play - following the child’s journey. 

· Focus on developing children’s skills progressively.

· Ensure all children feel included, safe and valued as individuals. 

· Provide opportunities that reflect the school’s values, as well as building upon and celebrating children’s individuality and diversity.

· Be an advocate of the child.


Our EYFS curriculum


We aim in providing children with access a broad and balanced curriculum that gives them the range of knowledge and skills needed for good or better progress throughout their time in Reception. Our curriculum is based upon the requirements set out in the 2017 statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

This framework includes 7 areas of learning and development that are equally important and inter-connected. However, 3 areas known as the prime areas are seen as particularly important for sparking curiosity and a love of learning, and for building children’s capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.


Curriculum areas:


Communication and Language

At Thornhill Primary School, we place a huge emphasis on the development of our children’s spoken language. Key vocabulary is displayed and the children’s vocabulary is extended with a Tier 2 word of the day. We use the ‘Blast’ speech and language programme with all children to underpin the skills needed for language, communication and literacy. We also employ a speech and Language TA to implement specific speech and language programmes.


Personal, Social and Emotional Development

PSED involves helping the children to develop a positive sense of themselves and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups and have confidence in their own abilities. This area of learning plays a key role in developing the whole child. It builds upon the Thornhill Primary School expectations, to enable children to learn to share, make friends, sort out disputes and develop as a valued member of our school community. We ensure that all children are aware of how to be successful and understand how to make the right choices, we create a ‘can do’ culture. We work within the Thornhill Primary School behaviour policy and reward the children for all their achievements. 


Physical Development

This area involves providing opportunities for our children to be active, interactive and to develop their co-ordination, control and movement. Children are supported to understand the importance of physical activity and to make healthy choices in relation to food. We make sure that this is planned in a variety of fun ways to develop the fine motor skills needed for writing, cutting, making and manipulating a range of objects and materials, whilst the children engage in a range of ‘active’ activities as part of the daily routine and as planned P.E. sessions with our specialist PE teacher.



Reading and stories are shared with the children several every day. Each half term, there are key books related to our topic. These books are read over and over for the children to be able to ‘read’ themselves or retell. Story maps are used regularly with the children to help them understand structure of a story and also recall the vocabulary. These maps are displayed within the classroom and uploaded onto Seesaw so that parents/ carers have access to them. We use other storytelling props such as: story spoons, walk the story, story stones and small world enhancements. We use the Letters and Sounds phonics scheme alongside Cued Articulation actions. All children are read with weekly by a Teaching Assistant and Teacher. All children’s reading and phonic ability is tracked throughout the year, so that if a child needs extra help with their phonics, timely (and personalised) intervention is put in place in order for every child to make progress. We encourage children to continue their learning at home, sending home sound charts and tricky word cards early on in the school year. Each child has a reading book, specific to their reading level, and this is changed weekly.



Children begin to write by mark making in our indoor and outdoor classrooms. We encourage children to write by providing a range of exciting hooks (so that they are writing for a purpose) – such as writing party invitations, writing letters to mysterious visitors, and making posters for ‘wanted’ characters. Bears have been known to appear in our classroom, and dragons have left eggs behind for our children to discover! Adults model writing to children throughout the day, and as they develop the fine motor skills to form letter shapes, children practise letter formation daily. Children start by writing initial sounds before moving onto words and then sentences. Our aim is for writing to be high-profile – and for children to develop their own love of writing, as well as an intrinsic motivation to write. Writing is celebrated in Year R, and our children are proud to share their work to visitors!



We have used the guidance provided by the NCETM and White Rose Maths Hub to support planning of the early foundations of number.  These are incorporated through all lessons and interactions with the children. Each daily lesson includes a short whole class input, after which children choose to engage independently in pre-planned mathematical activities that are related to the learning.  The children work in small guided groups daily with their teacher.  The group work is designed around a series of ‘small steps’ through the use of variation – with the aim of allowing all children to access a concept.  After their group input, children are then able to apply this knowledge in the provision and can be challenged further through effective questioning. Opportunities are also provided for our children to apply their mathematical understanding throughout the day. We place great emphasis on the use of stem sentences to embed a mathematical concept, as well as providing opportunity to develop our children’s speech.  Opportunities to learn the vocabulary of 2D and 3D shape, length, capacity, weight, time, and money are given through taught activities and consolidated during CAR time. For example, role play, creative activities and construction provide opportunities to measure, use money or tell the time. These resources are available to children throughout the day.


Expressive Arts and Design

Our children have opportunities to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. They are also encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.

Our children develop their art, music and role play skills, with our practitioners building on their knowledge of a child to extend and challenge them within their play. The children experience a variety of art skills such as colour mixing, junk modelling, printing and collage to explore colour, line and texture. Our role play area responds to our children’s interests and is set up daily with props that encourage our children to use their imaginary play. We also encourage the use of open-ended resources, and loose parts – so that our children can develop further as critical thinkers.


Understanding the World

Our children are able to find out about their community and the physical world through discussion and first-hand experiences. Through whole school experiences such as Science Week we provide opportunities for our children make predictions and new discoveries based on exciting experiments.  We make use of our natural environment such as our outside area and our woods. We also explore local community to give the children a variety of experiences which helps them to make links. We also celebrate a range of festivals and cultural events – such as making fortune cookies for Chinese New Year, and diva lamps for Diwali. We encourage visitors from our local community and/or ‘People Who Help Us’ to join us online or in person, as well as parents or carers! This helps us to introduce the children to a range of people and enables the children to talk about their family and the differences between themselves and others. British values are interwoven into the children’s learning and this is underpinned through planned learning experiences and events.