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Why is the Early Years Foundation Stage so important?

At St Saviour’s we believe that every child is a unique individual who deserves the best start in life and the support that enables them to reach their potential. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is an integral part of supporting each child by preparing them for future learning and successes in school and life. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences before the age of five will have a major impact on their future life chances and opportunities.

What we teach, how we teach it and what it looks like

In the Early Years Foundation Stage at St Saviour’s we provide a stimulating, rich and interactive learning environment. This is supported with a highly experienced teaching team that allows the children to gain a sense of self, exploration, play with peers, and to build confidence while learning. We use the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Statutory Framework, Development Matters and Early Learning Goals for all of our areas of learning. These documents were all updated and the new changes have been implemented from September 2021.

In the Early Years Framework, there are four guiding principles that shape our practice in Nursery and Reception at St Saviour’s:

  • a unique child
  • positive relationships
  • enabling environments
  • learning and development


A unique child

Positive relationships

Enabling environments

Learning and development


Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.

Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, with teaching and support from adults who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and carers.

Children develop and learn in different ways (see below for the characteristics of learning). The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision including children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The Early Years Foundation Stage framework explains how and what children will be learning to support their healthy development and provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. This consists of 7 Areas of Learning and Development that are broken down into different aspects.

Areas of Learning and Development

Prime Areas:

Communication and language

Physical Development

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Specific Areas:



Understanding the World

Expressive Arts and Design

The prime areas of learning and development are particularly important for building the foundations that engage curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. As children grow, the prime areas will support their learning in the specific areas.

We believe the ways in which children engage with other people and their environment- playing and exploring, active learning and creating and critically thinking (the characteristics of effective learning)- fortify learning and development across all areas. At St Saviour’s we support each child to be an effective and motivated learner through the use of these characteristics.

The characteristics of effective teaching and learning

Playing and exploring

Children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’

Active learning

Children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements

Creating and thinking critically

Children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things

In Early Years we cover a different broad topic each half term with specific weekly focuses. We use these topics to frame our learning of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework and the end of key stage Early Learning Goals. These broad topics could be: Ourselves, Superheroes, Growing, Transport, A Specific Author, Dinosaurs, Pirates, Mythical Creatures, Festivals, Places and Homes, Water and more. We plan but adapt the topics based on the EYFS cohort’s interests. 

Please click here to see this year’s topics.

We believe in a play based learning approach that centres upon each child’s development and progress. Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking. It is very important that the children develop social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing and independence, which help them greatly in the next stages of their learning.  The curriculum is centred around children’s interests with a balance of child-initiated and adult-led learning.

Phonics teaching and learning are a key part of the Early Years Foundation Stage and help to develop early reading and writing skills. We teach Phonics using Letters and Sounds.

If you visited the Nursery or Reception class, you would see a range of activities taking place such as role-play, practical games, playdough, sand, water, painting, cutting and sticking and reading in the book corner. You would also see children using bikes and scooters, going to the Forest School and exploring how to move their bodies in the outdoors.

 How we record children’s learning

We use Tapestry for online profiles for each child. These include a mixture of independent, self-initiated, adult- initiated, adult supported activities and photographs, that evidence their progress and learning. Early Years staff and parents can create observations by recording photos, videos and words to demonstrate a child’s achievements and abilities. Observations are tied to the seven Areas of Learning and Development and Characteristics of Effective Learning. Parents and teachers can comment on each other’s observations.

How parents can help

  • Read with your child regularly to help foster their love for reading and learning.
  • Ask your child about what they are learning and support them by going on phonics sounds, tricky words and number hunts.
  • Look at Tapestry, our online learning profile, to see what your child is doing at school.
  • Record observations of your child’s learning experiences on Tapestry, our online profile system.
  • Actively participate in parent teacher meetings, parent workshop and class open mornings


Useful documents:

Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (

Development Matters - Non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage (