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St Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Primary School

Where charity and love are, God is there


Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)


Children in Reception follow the EYFS curriculum which builds on the learning they have begun in pre-school or nursery.  Reception marks the final year of the EYFS curriculum before they begin the national curriculum in Year 1.


Four guiding principles should shape practice in early years settings. These are:

• 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/or carers

• Importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates

Characteristics of effective learning and areas of learning and development:


In planning and guiding what children learn, practitioners reflect on the different rates at which children are developing and adjust their practice appropriately. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:


  • 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


There are seven areas of learning and development that shape educational programmes in early years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.

Three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. 

These are the prime areas:


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


Providers also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied.


The specific areas are:


  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design


The level of development children should be expected to have attained by the end of the EYFS is defined by the early learning goals (ELGs). The ELGs support teachers to make a holistic, best-fit judgement about a child’s development, and their readiness for year 1.


Click here for the breakdown of ELGs.

To read the statutory framework for Early Year Foundation Stage (2023), please click here

Speech, language and communication 


In Early Years, we prioritise children's speech, language and communication and ensure we provide them with the opportunities to develop the necessary skills children need to communicate with those around them.


Useful resources about speech sound awareness and speech sound development

Spoken Language in the Classroom project


Last year, we were part of a project with Bristol University. Read the report below.