Early Years – Foundation Stage

From September 2012 the Early Years Foundation Stage has a new framework which sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5 years of age.

Children are born ready, able and eager to learn.  They actively reach out to interact with other people and in the world around them.  Development is not an automatic process, however.  It depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments.


The seven areas of Learning and Development are split into Prime Areas and Specific Areas.

Prime Areas:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Communication and Language

The Prime areas are strengthened and applied by the specific areas.

Specific Areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design


Personal, Social, and Emotional Development   

This area focuses on how children play, share, work and co-operate with others in a group and outside the family.  Our aim is for them to develop a sense of their own self-confidence, self-awareness and identity, and to have respect for others.

Physical Development

EYFS_5This area focuses on developing physical control and awareness of space and how to use manipulative skills in indoor and outdoor environments.  Your child will be encouraged to move in a variety of ways and to respond to a variety of stimuli.

We aim, with the help and support of parents, to foster a positive attitude towards a healthy and active way of life.

Children are encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle and diet and take care of themselves. Swans have a weekly swimming lesson with a qualified swimming teacher.

Communication and Language

Communication and Language are central to everything we do in school.  It is our aim to support each child to develop a wide variety of communication skills by providing a stimulating environment.  During your child’s day, they will have the opportunity to listen to and respond to stories, learn nursery rhymes and recognise rhyming words.  Communication and language focusses on how well children listen and pay attention; how they understand and interpret language and how they speak.



EYFS_6Our philosophy is to approach reading in a very individual way.  Great emphasis is given to the phonetic approach and children are taught to recognise letter names and their sounds.  Children are encouraged to recognise familiar words and extend their vocabulary, to explore the meanings and sounds of new words.  Our department uses a wide range of reading material and books, we aim to foster a love and respect of books.

To foster early writing skills, children are encouraged to make marks, learn how to hold a pencil effectively and to form letters correctly.  There will be many opportunities to write for a range of purposes, and to encourage independent writing.  The children progress at their own pace and adults support where needed.


EYFS_7This area covers the important aspects of mathematical understanding and provides the foundation for Numeracy.  Early numeracy will be developed firstly through ‘hands on’ practical activities, which enable the children to explore and make mathematical discoveries, and then in the written form.   Children will have the opportunity to develop their own mathematical ideas and learn how to solve practical problems for themselves.  We aim to introduce mathematical language and a variety of activities, which will stimulate and arouse children’s interest in this subject.  Numbers are displayed in the classrooms and children are encouraged to investigate the shapes and measuring equipment.

Understanding The World

An important aspect of children’s education is their knowledge and understanding of the environment in which they live, their families, the wider community, technology and past and present events in their own lives. We encourage children to explore and recognise features of living things, objects and events in the natural and man-made world. We look closely at similarities, differences and how things change. Technology is used where appropriate to support their learning.  The children are given the opportunity to develop an awareness of other cultures and beliefs as well as learning about the Catholic Faith.

Expressive Arts and Design

In this area children are encouraged to express their feelings and ideas in a creative way through art, music, dance, stories and in play.  They have opportunities to explore using media and materials and develop their own imaginations.

In Art and Design Technology they will be given the opportunity to handle a wide range of tools and use a variety of materials safely, increasing their confidence and skills.

Swans and Cygnets have a weekly music session with a specialist teacher in the Music department.

At Grace Dieu the Seven Areas for Learning and Development are planned for on a weekly basis and a balance of teacher-led and child-initiated learning opportunities are provided.

The children within the EYFS are exposed to a variety of teaching methods, supporting each individual’s preferred learning style. Planning is mainly topic based covering a range of themes and the children input regularly into this.

Forest School

All children have a timetabled Forest School Activity every week where we maximise the benefit of the rich and rural environment that surrounds the School. We have an alpaca herd and a chicken coop as well as woodland and wetland areas to discover and learn in. The opportunities for outdoor learning are many and children benefit greatly from it.

Extra Curricular Activities

The Cygnet and Swan children use and benefit from Grace Dieu’s first class facilities. There are opportunities for the youngest members of the school to receive swimming and specialist tennis coaching during the year.

Our children enjoy at least two planned visits per term. They are varied and enhance and extend our holistic Early Years curriculum. The outings are planned to ensure there are opportunities for the children to discover, explore and experiment within the parameters of a safe environment.

For more information on our curriculum please follow this link