The Russell School

Aim High, Have Courage, Be Kind

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)


At the Russell school we provide a curriculum that is designed to engage and stimulate our learners at all stages. The school focuses on Early Years Foundation Stage and the 7 key areas of learning. Children are offered a broad and balanced curriculum. During their time in the foundation stage, we aim to develop the whole child through careful topic planning. As well as focusing on core skills for all, we ensure that we nurture the individual needs of the cohort. We understand that all children join us at different starting points and all are supported appropriately. Staff work hard to ensure that the curriculum we provide enables children to reach their full potential and continue to be successful learners, once moving into Key stage 1.

Planning is constantly evolving and is adapted to meet the needs of individual cohorts year on year. Staff take into consideration the needs of our children based on the areas of learning. They also carefully consider the social, moral, spiritual and cultural development and plan in activities and routines to support children’s understanding beyond their immediate environment and the local community.


The implementation of the curriculum is led by experienced practitioners across Nursery and Reception. The starting point is a yearly map of key skills. Staff will then use that to inform half termly planning, where topics and children’s interests are a focus. This then supports weekly planning. The weekly plans take into account the ever changing interests of the children and staff use this as an opportunity build on topic ideas. We take into account children’s prior knowledge of different topics to ensure we are always moving our children’s learning forward.

The classroom environment is the hub for our children’s learning, so it is important to us that we ensure children have a safe and stimulating space. The classroom provides an enhanced space for children to explore and develop their skill independently. Teacher plan exciting lessons to engage learners and scaffold skills they can apply in the indoor and outdoor environment.

Children’s phonic knowledge is developed through daily phonic lessons, adapted from the LCP scheme of work. Where possible, children who need further support work in a smaller focus group during the lesson. Children have the opportunity to apply new sounds taught during carefully planned out follow up activities. Sounds are revisited outside of the designated lesson to ensure all children maintain phoneme awareness. English is taught using key texts that are linked to the topic or theme, where appropriate. Teachers ensure they provide a variety of fiction and non-fiction books to stimulate learning across all 7 areas.

Maths is taught through explicit sessions. As well as the development matters document, teachers use the White Rose scheme of Learning to ensure core skills are developed. Where possible children use concreate resources to support learning. Teachers follow up taught sessions with fun, practical activities.

Children not only have access to a well-resourced outdoor area. They are able to use the ‘outdoor classroom’ situated in the school grounds. Children use the outdoor classroom to develop a range of skills including, social and emotional skills as well as creative. Teachers use the natural resources around the outdoor classroom to support learning.

The wonderful learning taking place is captured and stored in the electronic learning journals. Staff make regular observations and link those observations to the development matters statements. This helps staff to generate personalised next steps for children and to ensure all the children are being challenged in the environment. The journals are shared with parents at regular intervals. Across the foundation stage we host open mornings and invite families in to celebrate and actively share the learning taking place in class. Learning is also celebrate via the school’s Twitter page. At the Russell school we also understand the vital role parents play in their child’s learning journey. We provide parents with the opportunity to celebrate and share their child’s achievements at home. Parents complete WOW moment slips that staff share in class.


In class, children will demonstrate high levels of engagement in their learning. They will leave the early years confident communicators, having had a wide range of experiences in varying contexts. Periodic assessments will show that children are making good progress, based on their starting points and we are narrowing any gaps in their learning. Planning is adapted according to needs identified from  assessments.

Children leave Reception having achieved a good level of development and with the core skills needed to transition into Year 1. Where children have not yet met all the early learning goals, they will have made good or better progress. Staff will have a sound understanding of where children are at the end of the foundation stage and communicate this effectively to parents and Year 1 staff. 

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The three prime areas are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development

There are also four specific areas through which the prime areas are strengthened and applied:

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

The EYFS is underpinned by four overarching principles which acknowledge that each child is a unique and constant learner and needs to grow and develop through forming positive relationships in an enabling environment.  In addition, children develop and learn at different rates and thus the framework supports the learning of all children including those with special needs and disabilities.


 The Prime Areas of Learning 

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

  • Making relationships: Children form positive relationships and learn to work and play together cooperatively. They learn to take account of the ideas of peers and show sensitivity to the needs of others.
  • Self-confidence and self awareness: Children will be encouraged to be confident to speak in a group and to express their ideas and needs.  They will have opportunities to discuss ideas, choices and feelings.
  • Managing feelings and behaviour: Children will learn about their emotions and the feelings of others. They will learn to work as part of a group or a class.  They will understand rules and boundaries.

Physical Development

  • Moving and Handling: Children will learn to improve their coordination, control, manipulation and gross and fine motor skills.
  • Health and self-care: Children will learn about the importance of good health, physical exercise and a healthy diet.  They will learn to manage their own hygiene and personal needs.

Communication and Language

  • Listening and Attention: Children will learn to listen to each other and adults, individually, and in small and large groups. They are given daily opportunities to listen and join in with stories and rhymes.
  • Understanding: Children will develop understanding of language through play and exploration and targeted interventions. They will have the opportunity to respond to questions.
  • Speaking: Children will be given a rich range of real experiences and activities to talk about. They will take part in planning and recall activities enabling them to talk about past experiences and plan the future.


The Specific Areas of Learning


For both reading and writing children will develop phonic knowledge that will enable them to decode, read and write words. Phonics will take place through a range of learning experiences e.g. listening activities, songs, rhymes and playing with language throughout the EYFS.

Reading: Children will learn the skills they need to be a reader and to love books, they will borrow books to be read to them at home and enjoy daily stories at school. They will become familiar with print and talk about their reading.

Writing: Children will apply their phonic knowledge to their writing.  They will write what is meaningful to them and be able to read it. They will learn to write words and simple sentences. 


In the EYFS children’s mathematical understanding develops through active learning, play and exploration.

  • Number: Children will learn to count reliably, order numbers, calculate, problem solve and use mathematical language.
  • Shape, space and measure: Children will learn about weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money. They will explore, recognise, create and describe patterns and shapes.

Understanding the World

  • People and Communities: Children will celebrate diversity and be aware of the similarities and differences between themselves and others.  They will be aware of events from the past and present. 
  • The World: Children will explore their local environment and be able to identify features.  They will know about the similarities and differences of both living and non-living things.  They will be able to explain why things happen.
  • Technology: Children will learn to use a range of new technology and be able to select equipment for a specific purpose.

 Expressive Arts and Design

  • Exploring and using media and materials; Children will explore a range of materials, tools and techniques.  They have daily opportunities to experiment with colour, design, texture and form.
  • Being Imaginative; Children will be encouraged and supported to express themselves imaginatively through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories. 

Learning opportunities are carefully planned to engage and challenge all children. The children will experience a range of activities, indoors and outdoors, to develop skills, knowledge and independence. They learn actively within a strong routine.

We ensure that these opportunities are across the seven areas of the curriculum. We are committed to enabling every child to become independent, enthusiastic learners with a range of skills that they can draw upon and develop throughout their schooling. We strive to enable every child to make good or better progress, from their own starting points, by the end of Reception.

In all areas there is a strong emphasis on active learning, play and exploration, and creating and thinking critically.  


We value phonics as an essential tool for the development of pupils Literacy skills. In Early Years, staff are trained to deliver daily, systematic high quality phonics, using the Letters and Sounds guidance as a basis for planning and assessment:

The following websites have excellent phonics activities:

 How can I find out more?

For more information about the Early Years Curriculum, Framework and Assessment, use the following website which has a parent friendly guide: