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Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

In Year R at Thornhill Primary School, pupils follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum. This is a statutory framework introduced by the government in September 2012. Teachers and Leaders in school use the EYFS handbook which contains important information for Local Authorities and School settings about assessing children’s attainment. Pupils have an EYFS profile whereby evidence is collected throughout the year and therefore a reliable judgement can be made about attainment in July.


The curriculum is divided up into 17 areas for learning. There are three prime areas that are crucial in igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. These are supported by developing the children’s Characteristics of Effective Learning: Playing and exploring (engagement), Active learning (motivation) and Creating and thinking critically (thinking).

The 4 themes of the EYFS underpin all of the guidance. 

1) A unique child - every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self assured. 

2) Positive relationships - children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.

3) Enabling environments - children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs. 

4) Learning and development - children develop and learn in different ways. The framework covers the education and care of all children in the early years provision. 


The three prime areas within the early years curriculum are...

Personal, social and emotional development - making relationships, self confidence and self awareness and managing feelings and behaviour. 


Communication and language - listening and attention, understanding and speaking. 


Physical development- moving and handling and health and self care. 


Communication and Language

Communication and language development involves giving the children opportunities to experience a language rich environment, to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations. 


At Thornhill, the children use these skills daily in a range of contexts in pairs and groups when discussing new themes or concepts and reviewing their activities in CAR (Choose, Action, Review) time. The children also use talk to explain, explore and re-create stories, rhymes and events. The children will have to opportunity to use iPads and cameras to record their own speaking skills as a record of their own learning! 


Physical Development

This area involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive and to develop their co-ordination, control and movement. Children must also be helped 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.


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 rules, 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. 


There are also four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are woven and applied. These are:


This involves encouraging the children to read and write. Children will be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, ebooks, rhymes and other written materials) to ignite their interest.



The ‘Letters and Sounds’ scheme is used to introduce letter sounds. We start to introduce letter sounds during the first half term. Each sound has a song and an action to help your child remember it.  The children play a range of sound, word and sentence game and these are specifically tailored to the needs of individual children. We encourage the children to continue their learning at home and sound charts and tricky word card will be sent home very early on in the year. Additionally, children will be able to access our Phonics Bug Club allowing them to read books via ‘smart’ ICT at home.



The children will learn about how stories and information texts are structured, creating and using their own puppets, drawings, sounds and letters and to begin to read words, captions and books. A range of essential reading skills are taught, recognising key words, combined with phonic knowledge and a range of other strategies to enable the children to quickly and effectively become independent young readers.  Guided reading sessions are incorporated into our English planning and are active and fun, creating a love of books and reading!



We value any writing attempts that your child makes. As the children become more confident with their letter sounds, they begin to make the link between the sounds and letter shapes that they are learning in phonics and the need to show these when writing. We always encourage children to ‘have a go’ at writing, representing the sounds in the order in which they occur in words.  



Handwriting is initially taught as mark making activities in ‘Mark Making’ time. The children move in response and make marks on paper such as zig - zags, waves and straight lines. This then leads into more formal handwriting activities during handwriting sessions and phonics activities when appropriate. However the children do start to learn to write their name as soon as they start as this is fundamental part of their daily routine. We teach the children to form their letters cursively as this enables them to join their letters easily in future years.



Maths learning at Thornhill involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in using numbers and to describe shapes, spaces and measures.



During maths learning, children begin to recognise and write numbers, to count to ten and beyond and say the number that is one more or less than a given number. They learn to have an understanding of place value and number bonds to ten. Children also learn to compare when amounts have more or fewer and to estimate how many objects they can see and check by counting them. They begin to use the language involved in addition and subtraction and record using marks they can interpret and explain. Practical learning, using their own interests, allows them the opportunities to explore their own mathematical problems.


Shape Space and Measure

This area of maths involves the children learning the names and properties of 2D and 3D shapes and being able to select a named shape, understand positional language such as behind, next to and in front as well as having a good understanding of weight and capacity. Children will have the opportunity to measure and order objects according to height and length and use every day language related to time and money. In practical ways the children will explore pattern using common objects shapes and paint.

All the work we do in maths provides plenty of opportunities for children to develop their mental and oral skills in mathematical development.


Understanding the World

Involves guiding the children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.


During ‘Discovery Time’ children use their senses to explore the natural world around them and begin to make comparisons, recognising similarities and differences. Children explore different occupations and are encouraged to talk about their own lives and experiences as well as people who are familiar to them.


ICT is used to enhance the learning and development of all children, we have a range of computers, software, Bee-bots, cameras and iPads that the children have regular access to.  Construction toys play a vital role in developing both children’s imagination and their ability to use a range of tools and techniques to build and construct. They reflect upon their own models, adapting and amending where necessary.


Expressive Arts and Design

‘Discovery Time’ also gives the opportunity to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as encouraging children 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 have many opportunities to develop their art, music and role play skills. The children experience a variety of art skills such as colour mixing, junk modelling, printing and collage to explore colour, line and texture. Exciting role play areas fully equipped with dressing-up clothes and props both inside and out enable the children to use imaginary play. Small World Stations of toys such as dinosaurs, dolls house and animals are used for imaginary play.