Quick Links

Quick Links

'Do unto others as you would have them do to you'. (Mt 7.12)

St Matthew's Primary

Friendship • Discovery • Prayer

Early years


Early Years Foundation Stage

Friendship, Discovery, Prayer




In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) at St. Matthew’s C of E Primary School, we are guided by our school motto of Friendship - Discovery - Prayer.  This ensures our children’s first experiences of learning are positive, exciting and meaningful. 



We know that developing warm, reassuring relationships gives children the very best start in the Early Years Foundation Stage.  We work with parents & carers during the settling-in process and throughout the year so that every child feels happy and safe. We understand that a child’s wellbeing and sense of autonomy underpins their development across all seven areas of the Early Years Curriculum.  We help each child to build positive relationships with one another through kindness, empathy and mutual respect. 


We believe children learn best when they have plenty of opportunities for hands-on, explorative play.  We create and facilitate a learning environment that promotes active learning, risk-taking, resilience and the development of creative & critical thinking skills. Our learning often takes place outdoors as we very much consider muddy clothes to be a sign of a day well spent!



We celebrate each child as an individual with unique needs, interests and ideas.  We foster an inclusive, forward-thinking environment which challenges stereotypes and embraces enquiring minds. We are all valued and respected for our  differences and personal  achievements.  We take time together each week to thank God for all the special gifts he has given us.  We want our children to thrive as confident communicators with a strong sense of self-worth.





“Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure”                      -Statutory framework for the EYFS (2021)

In the EYFS at St. Matthew’s C of E Primary School, safeguarding is at the heart of everything we do; from organising the layout of our learning environments to establishing our routines and developing our relationships with the children and their families.


All practitioners actively safeguard and promote the welfare of each child, thereby meeting the safeguarding and welfare requirements of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2021).


We also understand our statutory safeguarding duties as set out in KCSIE (2022) and we complete safeguarding training at the beginning of each school year. 



“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”                                                                    - O. Fred Donaldson

Our children learn primarily through play within enabling environments that encourage them to demonstrate the characteristics of effective learning on a daily basis.  Practitioners are always on hand to teach, support and guide the children so that their play experiences are positive and progressive.  They do this through a combination of observations and interactions; getting this balance right requires a sensitive awareness of each child’s individual learning and development needs.  High quality interactions are characterised by two-way conversations, open-ended questions and the use of contextual vocabulary.  These interactions promote curiosity, sustain engagement and challenge the children to move towards the next step in their learning.   


Practitioners also guide the children through tricky social negotiations as they begin to regulate their feelings with increasing independence.  Strong communicative skills are modelled, alongside the process of positive decision making, so children understand how to engage successfully in collaborative play.


Observations of children’s play allow practitioners to identify key skills that may need to be learnt in order for children to move forward with their learning.  From time to time, these skills will be taught explicitly and progressively within directed activities.  These adult-led activities are also used to inspire and enrich the children’s experiences of the world around them. 


Our core learning environments (both inside and outdoors) are predictable and well-organised so as to encourage the children’s independence, wellbeing and sense of autonomy.  Enhancements are added to reflect the children's ongoing and changing interests alongside the progression of their skills.  Enhancements are always meaningful and may be used to offer additional challenge or to inspire a sense of wonder.


Sensory experiences are an integral part of our provision.  In the Nursery, we have a mud kitchen, a digging area and access to water trays both indoors and outside.  In Reception, the children have access to water in the Outdoor Classroom.  All children have daily access to playdough and experience regular sensory enhancements such as sand-play, gardening, messy play (with, for example, shaving foam, moon sand, oobleck, etc.) and cooking.


Our provision also supports the development of our children’s gross motor skills through daily access to bikes and scooters as well as opportunities to climb, pull, push, balance, grip and carry objects.  The children spend time outdoors in all weathers, to ensure a sensory exploration of the ever-changing natural world.  We support parents & carers in ensuring all children are equipped with appropriate clothing so everyone can access and experience the outdoors at all times of year.


Our educational programmes are shaped by the seven areas of learning and development; each of which is important and inter-connected.  Educational programmes involve activities and experiences (including trips and visitors) inspired by termly topics.  These topics are driven by quality key texts, known as Spotlight Stories, which are carefully selected to encourage the development of the children's social communication & language skills.  The educational programmes are not set in stone; they are flexible and responsive so planning can be adapted depending upon the children’s changing needs and interests.


A ‘language rich’ environment is embedded through the use of songs, nursery rhymes and storytelling, alongside daily opportunities for high-quality conversations between children & adults and between the children themselves. Children are encouraged to become early, enthusiastic readers through our daily storytime sessions, the systematic teaching of phonics through the Read, Write, Inc scheme and weekly borrowing of books from our class libraries.


Mathematical curiosity is also embedded across our learning environments.  Our children are encouraged to develop an understanding of how numbers, patterns, shape and measures work in the real-world and how they can apply their number knowledge to problem-solve in different situations.  In Reception, they develop their mathematical thinking through direct teaching of the NCETM Early Years Maths programme. 


We work in partnership with parents & carers and their engagement is encouraged and valued.  We keep them informed about the curriculum as well as their child’s wellbeing, learning and progress.  We want to establish warm relationships with our parents & carers and help them to support their children’s learning at home.  We use online communication tools (Seesaw, Blogs) to support their understanding of the curriculum and offer specific suggestions for games and activities they might like to try together at home.  Parents & carers have continual access to Seesaw which provides regular updates of their child’s learning through play.  Blog posts also keep them updated with information about their child’s learning, their experiences and any focus skills.  Parents & carers are encouraged to revisit the weekly Spotlight Stories with their children at home, through YouTube videos that are first vetted and then suggested.  Parents & carers are also encouraged to use Seesaw as a starting point for engaging their children in conversation about their learning experiences.


In the EYFS, learning and development is tracked on entry (usually within the first six weeks of term), halfway through the Spring term and towards the end of the school year in June.  At each timepoint, every child is assessed as being ‘on track’ or ‘not on track’ in relation to the seven areas of learning.  Practitioners use their professional knowledge of child development, alongside our Progression of Skills document, to make best-fit judgements.   

Towards the end of the year in Reception, the EYFS Profile is completed by the Reception teacher who will assess each child against the 17 Early Learning Goals (ELGs).  These assessments indicate whether a child has met or is still developing towards the ELGs.  As before, these assessments are best-fit judgements that  draw on the wealth of knowledge and information practitioners have gathered over the course of the year, through their observations of the child’s learning and development, as well as any additional information shared by parents & carers.  Parents & carers receive a copy of the completed EYFS Profile and it is also shared with the Year 1 teacher so as to inform next steps and support a successful transition into Key Stage One.




In the EYFS at St. Matthew’s, the vast majority of our children reach a Good Level of Development at the end of the Reception year (80% in 2021-2022).

They also:

  • love coming to school
  • form positive relationships with practitioners and their peers
  • are caring and empathetic
  • demonstrate a positive sense of self
  • have a valued voice and know how to express their thoughts, feelings and needs with increasing articulation
  • develop a strong sense of familiarity towards the learning environment and demonstrate individual preferences for activities and experiences
  • are confident when exploring the learning environment and use a hands-on approach when doing so
  • are creative and critical thinkers
  • begin to understand the benefits of collaborative play
  • develop a sense of themselves as being part of a wider school community
  • begin to join others in collective worship


In the EYFS at St. Matthew’s, parents & carers:


  • are guided through the settling-in process
  • know how to contact staff and feel they can do so
  • know who their child’s key person is
  • are encouraged and supported to be actively engaged in their children’s learning throughout the school year
  • are kept informed about their child’s learning & development including progress and next steps
  • are supported in the transition to Reception/Year 1
  • are encouraged to see themselves as part of the whole school community


In the EYFS at St. Matthew’s, practitioners:


  • understand their safeguarding and welfare responsibilities
  • work in partnership with parents and carers; listening to concerns, responding with professionalism and signposting where appropriate
  • build positive relationships with all children and with one another
  • recognise the unique child, tracking their individual track children’s development, needs and interests
  • build and adapt enabling environments that respond to and reflect children’s differing needs and interests