EYFS school classroom

Welcome to EYFS

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Early Years

At St. John’s, we believe that children deserve the best possible start to their education. Our Early Years team strive to provide an environment where children feel safe, happy, supported and secure. We consider each child’s interests, wants and needs so that they are ready to learn and exceed. We are committed to providing a quality Early Years education that is; creative, challenging, active and broad in order to develop a thirst and excitement for learning.


Our fantastic staff team are dedicated, well-motivated and experienced, and this ensures the children flourish here at St. John’s.  We offer a nurturing and caring environment with a wide range of facilities to support the children including our  Nursery classroom which is a  purpose-built space that is bright, spacious and secure, designed to welcome children on their third birthday. Our caring atmosphere ensures children feel valued and enables them to develop the confidence and self-esteem to try new things and develop a ‘can-do’ attitude. Staff ensure a seamless transition into our Reception class, where children benefit from another spacious, vibrant classroom with the addition of a large, covered balcony for outside learning in all conditions.  Premises include an additional space called the ‘Maths Playroom’ which is well-resourced to encourage play with mathematical games, resources and activities; this is also used as a quiet, relaxed space for small group work.

Outdoor facilities include two bespoke playgrounds, for the sole use of our children in the EYFS to cater for pupils’ gross motor skills.  We also make full use of our extensive school grounds for drama, games and Forest School. Our children can often be found building dens in the trees or tracking animal prints through the snow!


Our ambitious curriculum provides children with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to prepare them for the challenges of Key Stage One and beyond. We embed the right habits for learning through recognising the importance of nurturing the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’, encouraging problem solving, creativity and communication, fostering children’s natural curiosity and promoting innovation and reflection.

Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities with a gradual shift from the former to the latter as children move through our EYFS. In Reception, the timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching in literacy, mathematics and phonics every day. These sessions are followed by focused group work where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets.

We believe that the Early Years are critical in children’s development and that the EYFS builds a firm basis for future learning, development and independence. Therefore we educate the whole child and promote independence, curiosity, respect and resilience.

We aim to:

  • Identify and value children’s strengths, interests and learning styles so that they develop confidence, respect, independence and high self-esteem.
  • Develop and build solid relationships with our children and their families.
  • Cultivate children’s attitudes to learning, self-motivation, inquisitiveness, self-confidence and responsibility.
  • Nurture and encourage children’s curiosity, reflectiveness, creativity and resourcefulness.
  • Develop children’s responsive thoughts and ideas, and value their work, conversations and feelings.
  • Provide the highest quality learning experiences for all children. Learning that is exciting, creative, real, challenging; encouraging risk taking and fun.
  • Provide the highest quality teaching and learning that takes into account the interests of the children, their developmental and relating needs and allows them to make pr
  • Support children’s learning by providing them with first hand learning experiences that are rooted in purposeful, resilient play
  • Support the children in making the transition from their first stage of education to the next with confidence.


Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.

Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.

Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff.

Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.

We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.

Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each child’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.

We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs ‘sh’ (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs ‘igh’ (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs ‘eigh’(four letters spelling one sound).

We teach children to:

  • Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
  • Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.

The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.

ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.

Supporting Reading at Home:

  • Children will only read books that are entirely decodable, this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book.
  • We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound)

We want children to practise reading their book 4 times across the week working on these skills:

Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.

Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.

Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!

We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.

At the beginning of each academic year, we will hold an information session for parents and carers to find out more about what we do for Phonics, Reading and English at our schools. Please do join us.

More support for parents and carers can be found here:

Videos to support the pronunciation of sounds

Phase 2 Pronunciation video  

Phase 3 Pronunciation video

Phase 5 Pronunciation video



At St. John’s, we believe in providing lifelong skills to support our children well into adulthood. Clear, legible handwriting is a key skill that is incredibly important even in the technological age that we live in.

We understand handwriting to be a developmental process with its own stages of progression from readiness for handwriting, through to joining letters, practising writing at speed and fluency therefore leading to improved presentation skills.

We follow the PenPals Handwriting Programme, as this provides a comprehensive approach to better handwriting through targeting stages of development.

Please find some useful information below to support you at home.

PenPals Handwriting Programme




In Early Years, our children are exposed to a vocabulary rich environment in which maths is woven into their daily classroom activities. Maths is taught practically through whole class and small group inputs followed by consolidation activities within our provision areas. Counting is integrated into our daily routine through the labelling within areas, counting the children present, the way in which we tidy up the areas, stories and songs.

Our EYFS maths teaching is supported by a combination of WRMH and NCETM materials; we adapt this to follow the needs and interests of the children. Our maths progress is evidenced through the use of high quality, targeted questioning and recorded learning on Tapestry in Pre-Prep and in maths’ books in Prep. 1. Children are then supported and challenged to meet their needs through the use of small group and 1:1 activities.


We deliver focused PSHE lessons through weekly circle time sessions, following the successful whole school ‘Jigsaw’ scheme. This encourages children to:

  • Reflect and be mindful about their learning
  • Recognise that children are good at different things
  • Learn to respect themselves and others, and build respectful friendships
  • Follow their own interests and be themselves
  • Develop self-esteem and confidence in their abilities


Children enjoy using iPads, touch-screen computers and coding toys as part of our unique EYFS computing curriculum that has been designed in collaboration with our computing lead.

Specialist Lessons

Children benefit from specialist teachers each week, from the very beginning of Nursery, in music, art, drama, French, Forest School and Physical Education. EYFS staff always accompany the children to offer support and encouragement, and to ensure consistently high ratios. Further information on the content of these lessons can be found on the individual subject pages.

Enrichment Opportunities

We seek to create a sense of awe and wonder, offering a host of first-hand experiences that provide the cultural capital our children need for future success. Some of these opportunities have included:

  • Regular interactive theatre workshops led by local theatre companies.
  • Meeting members of our community, such as the local fire brigade.
  • A visit to the Mill Green Museum to learn about the mill and participate in a bread making experience.
  • A visit from a mobile planetarium as part of our ‘Starry Night’ topic.
  • An annual visit from a local farm for a hands-on animal encounter.
  • An annual visit to the theatre to see a Christmas performance.
  • Performing in the Lower School Christmas Show at The Wyllotts Theatre.
  • Participating in a Chinese New Year dance workshop.
  • Enjoying an author visit as part of our World Book Day celebrations.
  • Creating and modelling bonnets in the Lower School Easter Bonnet Parade.
  • Creating a portfolio of work to exhibit in our whole school bi-annual Art Exhibition.
  • Participating in a fossil dig and meeting an animatronic dinosaur!
  • Performing in the Lower School Summer Concert at our local church.
  • Exploring lifecycles through class caterpillars, hatching duck eggs and a visit from ZooLab for a practical lifecycle workshop.
  • Competing during our whole school Sports Day at our senior site.
  • Enjoying a Teddy Bears Picnic in our school grounds.

These are just a sample of the wonderful experiences on offer in our very busy and thriving department.