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Introduction to Early Years Foundation Stage

At The Gateway Primary Academy, we recognise that early childhood is the foundation on which children build on for the rest of their lives. We greatly value the important role that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) plays in laying secure foundations for future learning and development. We recognise it is important to view the EYFS as preparation for life and not simply preparation for the next stage of education.


The EYFS is for children from birth to five years of age. We recognise that all children begin school with a variety of experiences and learning. It is the privilege of the practitioners working in Reception to take on the task of building upon their first learning experiences. This is done through a holistic approach to learning, ensuring that parents, carers, support staff and the Foundation Stage teachers work together effectively to support children's learning and development.  


Our young learners develop an understanding of the world and love of learning through a practical and play-based approach. An effective balance between child-led and adult-led learning demonstrates that the children’s interests are valid.  It allows the children to flourish and become confident, creative and independent learners with the necessary skills, dispositions and attitudes to successfully continue their learning journey into Year 1 and beyond.




The Early Years Curriculum is organised into termly topics covering the 7 areas of learning: Communication and Language, Physical Development, Personal Social and Emotional Development, Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.

Topics are planned for each of the six terms and The Gateway uses the Development Matters guidance to ensure a balanced coverage, leading to the statutory assessment against the Early Learning Goals at the end of the year. On-going assessment of pupil’s progress is recorded using the Evidence Me App with outcomes used to adapt teaching and plan next steps in learning.

Pupils learn through a balance of child-led and adult directed activities in an inside and outdoor learning environment carefully designed to enable every child to succeed.  We aim to make it a place where children feel secure and confident, can explore, investigate and learn through first-hand experience and are challenged to develop their independence.

Parents and carers are encouraged to be involved in and support their child’s ongoing learning and development.

Learning and Development

The Early Learning Goals are the knowledge, skills and understanding which young children should have acquired by the end of the Reception year.  The Gateway uses the Development Matters 2021 guidance to help the children work towards the statutory Early Learning Goals at the end of the year.

Learning and development is categorised into three prime areas of learning:

  • Communication and language. 
  • Physical development.  
  • Personal, social and emotional development.

 Additionally there are four specific areas of learning: 

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

Achievement of these prime and specific areas of learning is by: 

  • Playing and exploring
  • Active learning
  • Creating and thinking critically


Good planning is the key to making children’s learning effective, exciting, varied and progressive. Effective learning builds on and extends what children know and can do. Our planning shows how the principles of the EYFS will be put into practice and is always informed by observations we have made of the children, in order to understand and consider their current interests, development and learning. All practitioners who work in Early Years at The Gateway are involved in this process. 


There are three stages of planning the curriculum:


Long Term Planning

We have created a framework, which gives structure and coherence to the curriculum. Topics are planned for each of the six half-terms and the steps within Development Matters which then lead towards the Early Learning Goals are distributed over the terms, to determine broad and balanced coverage.


Medium Term Planning

We address particular aspects of the curriculum in more detail for each term. We include links between areas of learning and development and opportunities for ICT. Learning objectives, assessment opportunities, and activities and experiences for each area of learning and development are identified.


Short Term Planning

We identify specific learning objectives, activities, differentiation, deployment of adults and resources, to meet the learning needs of the children on a weekly and day-to-day basis. It allows for flexibility in response to individual children’s needs and interests and for revision and modification, informed by on-going observational assessment.


Staffing and Organisation

At The Gateway Primary Academy, there is one Reception class with a maximum intake of 30 children.  Our Reception class has one teacher and two full time teaching assistants. The children have daily opportunities for structured and free-flow play both in the classroom and in the EYFS outdoor area. This time is supported by an adult, who acts as a facilitator to the child’s learning. The teacher liaises with the teaching assistants, regularly involving them in planning, preparation and assessment. We are always aiming to improve our teaching skills, knowledge and understanding and so all practitioners are encouraged to participate in local authority courses and projects, such as the ECERs project. Practitioners also conduct and attend in-house training and disseminate new initiatives, ideas and teaching methods to colleagues. 


Assessment, Recording and Monitoring

At The Gateway Primary Academy, we undertake assessment for learning. We analyse and review what we know about each child’s development and learning, and then make informed decisions about the child’s progress. This enables us to plan the next steps to meet their development and learning needs. All practitioners who interact with the child contribute to the assessment process.


Formative Assessment

This type of assessment informs everyday planning and is based on on-going observational assessment of each child’s achievements, interests and learning styles. Formative assessment may take the form of anecdotal observations, focused observations, September baseline assessment, other focused assessments e.g. sound/number, annotated examples of work, photographs, video and information from parents. We plan for observational assessment when undertaking our medium and short term planning.  Practitioners also use the 2Simple app to record children’s achievement electronically.


Summative Assessment

The EYFS Profile summarises all of the formative assessment undertaken and makes statements about the child’s achievements against the Early Learning Goals at the end of the year. It is completed on-entry (baseline assessment) and at the end of each term by the class teacher. The teacher also undertakes in-house and local cluster group moderation.

Learning Through Play

“Children’s play reflects their wide ranging and varied interests and preoccupations. In their play children learn at their highest level. Play with peers is important for children’s development.” (Early Years Foundation Stage), Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2017


At The Gateway Primary Academy, we do not make a distinction between work and play. We support children’s learning through planned play activities, and decide when child-initiated or adult-led play activities would provide the most effective learning opportunities. We believe that it is important for adults to support children’s learning through play, by getting involved in the play themselves.


The Learning Environment

 “A rich and varied environment supports children’s learning and development. It gives them the confidence to explore and learn in secure and safe, yet challenging, indoor and outdoor spaces.” “Early Years Foundation Stage”, (Department for Children, Schools and Families), 2017


We aim to create an attractive, welcoming and stimulating learning environment which will encourage children to explore, investigate and learn through first-hand experience. We also aim to make it a place where children feel secure and confident, and are challenged to develop their independence. Activities are planned for both the inside and outside; children have the freedom to move between the indoor and outdoor classroom during child-initiated play.


Role Play

At The Gateway, we believe in the importance of children learning through role play.  This increases their communication skills, play skills and understanding of the world around them.  As such our EYFS classroom is heavily influenced by our role play area.  Our reading, writing and maths are incorporated within the role play area. We also have a music, sand and water area for our reception children to access. 


The outside learning environment is divided into a variety of different areas: role play ‘home’ kitchen, sand area, ‘quiet’ den, climbing frame, wheeled toys, water, growing, writing, maths, music, and construction areas. These areas are carefully arranged to encourage quiet areas and more active areas within the learning environment.  Children are encouraged to become independent learners and to take some responsibility for initiating their own lines of enquiry and investigation. 


Transition from Nursery to Reception

In preparation for September the new intake are invited for a number of story time sessions in the afternoons in July. In addition, the children have the opportunity to join the current Swans class for an afternoon to experience what it is like to be in a classroom environment. This gives the children a number of chances to meet the class teacher and teaching assistants and to socialise with each other. It is also an ideal time for parents/carers to meet each other and share top tips and discuss any worries they have.


At the end of July all parents/carers are invited to attend a meeting with the Head teacher, Deputy Head Teacher, EYFS leader, Reception teacher and the class based teaching assistants.  During this meeting they receive The Gateway Primary Academy Reception information booklet and other necessary information.


Children who are not as confident are identified and supported by the EYFS adults in September during the transition from their nursery into our Reception Class. During the first 3 weeks in September all parents are invited to a short meeting with the class teacher to discuss reception at The Gateway and any needs/interests their child has.


Transition from Reception to Year 1

To prepare the children for the transition the Reception staff talk positively and enthusiastically about what it is like in Year 1.  The children will meet their new teacher and spend a session in their new classroom.  As our reception children use the same playground as KS1 they are already familiar with and already know the year 1 children well. They will continue to attend whole school assemblies.


During the autumn term the school day has a similar structure to that which has already been experienced in Reception and children will have access to an outside area. Where possible, the year 1 children will continue to enjoy practical learning experiences which gradually becomes more formalised towards the end of the academic year.  The ‘Letters and Sounds’ national approach to phonics and spelling is continued throughout year 1 and 2.  


Parents as Partners  

We recognise that parents/carers are the child’s first and most enduring educators. When parents/carers and practitioners work together in Early Years settings, the results have a positive impact on the child’s development. A successful partnership needs to be a two-way flow of information, knowledge and expertise.


We aim to develop this by:

• outlining the curriculum to parents/carers during the parents meeting in the summer term, to enable them to understand the value of supporting their child’s learning at home

• sending information home regularly through our home learning logs to keep parents informed of their child’s current curriculum topic and possible activities.

• during Reception home learning will be set fortnightly. (See home learning policy)

• operating an “open door” policy, whereby parents/carers can discuss concerns and developments in an informal manner

• sharing progress through regular meetings

• encouraging parents/carers to listen to their child read each night and to comment on reading progress in a home/school reading diary.

• encouraging relevant learning activities to be continued at home e.g. library books, and ensuring that experiences at home are used to develop learning in school

• discussing individual targets with parents/carers at parents’ evening in October and March (informed by the EYFS Profile)

• providing a written report to parents/carers in July summarising the child’s progress against the Early Learning Goals and Development Matters statements.