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St Nicolas'

Church of England Combined School

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Our EYFS Curriculum


Intent: why do we teach what we teach?


Here at St Nicolas, we value the children's personal, social and emotional development and want to ensure they are secure, stimulated and happy. Our curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, both from previous settings and their experiences at home. We work in partnership with parents, carers and other settings to ensure that every child reaches their full potential from their various starting points. The curriculum has been tailored to reflect what a child living in Taplow or surrounding area would need to know about their immediate area and the wider world around them. Our enabling environments and nurturing, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration right from the start.   


Each child is unique and comes to St Nicolas with different life experiences. We get to know each family to understand the culture they are from and for us to understand opportunities for enrichment. Our dedicated Early Years staff work hard to give each child the knowledge and skills to succeed in each area of learning. The impact of Covid has made an impact on communication and language, so it is vital that the prime areas are focused on right from the start of their learning journey with us. 


Implementation: how do we teach what we teach? 


We use the revised Development Matters document to guide the planned teaching and learning experiences, whilst using conversations with subject leads across KS1 and KS2 to help gather knowledge for progression of skills in each subject area relevant to the EYFS. Planned visits will happen, by the EYFS lead to each class and visits to EYFS by each subject lead. 


There are seven areas of learning and development that are important and inter-connected, split into prime and specific areas.  


The prime areas are:   

• communication and language  

• physical development  

• personal, social and emotional development 


The specific areas are:  

• literacy  

• mathematics  

• understanding the world  

• expressive arts and design 


We adapt our practice to meet the needs of all children, particularly children with SEND and those who are disadvantaged.  In the past, we have adapted our free flow play. At times during the day children free flowed to the outside and at other times children were either all in or out, this was to meet the needs of one child and to support, with the deployment of adults, to ensure safety. Whilst free flow is the aim, this adaptation was necessary to ensure safety of all children. We introduced a voting system (democracy - a British value) where children voted on inside or outside, reflecting most interests. 


Reading is at the heart of the curriculum. The environment celebrates reading and high-quality texts. Books are organised to link with a theme and favourite authors are known and celebrated by the children. Stories, songs and rhymes are weaved into each day during a child’s time in Reception and key texts chosen to link with the topics. Children choose books independently as well as sharing key texts as a group. Books are available in all areas of the learning environment, whilst also having a very cosy area for quiet enjoyment. 


The Read, Write Inc. scheme forms the curriculum for phonics teaching. Children of similar ability are grouped together, and sessions are matched to their stage of development. If a child comes to St. Nicolas being able to blend, the child will be grouped accordingly so that they are challenged. Children practise writing at tables, in order to improve core strength and good practice for writing.  


As a whole class, we follow the NCETM Mastering Number programme. At the start of Reception, pupils will build on previous experiences of number from their home and nursery environments, and further develop their subitising and counting skills. They will explore the composition of numbers within 5. They will begin to compare sets of objects and use the language of comparison.  


Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities.  The timetable is carefully structured and changeable throughout the year, to carefully build in more directed time as the year progresses. 


The learning environment enthuses children, who are excited, eager and fully immersed in their child-initiated play. Enhancements are carefully planned to embed the knowledge, skills and vocabulary taught. Children’s level of engagement and wellbeing is high, which in turn develops self-regulation skills. Children are supported to play collaboratively, and this provides additional focus on developing communication and language skills. 


The learning environment is organised with resources clearly stored and labelled to support children to choose exactly what they need. Children can think about the resources they need and select and tidy up easily, which supports the characteristics of effective teaching and learning.  


Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it? 


The class teacher is fully available during child-initiated learning. Due to this, children make progress in the moment and are challenged to think wider, further and to explore alternatives. We value the importance of learning through play.  The activities planned, the enabling environment and adult interactions flow together, allowing learning to accelerate.  

Pupils' readiness for the next stage of their education is good. The reception teacher and the year 1 teacher work collaboratively to support children through a smooth transition to KS1. 


At the end of the reception year, children are assessed against 17 early learning goals (ELGs). We use our knowledge and experience from working with each child to decide whether they have met the expected levels of development (expected) for each ELG or if they are working towards the expected levels (emerging). 


Most children leaving the reception class will:

  • have achieved the early learning goal in word reading and are able to read
  • have a good understanding of number, from using the mastering number programme
  • be confident to speak to one another and to perform / speak in front of an audience
  • be independent learners
  • show signs of having good manners
  • have built respectful friendships with each other