Sturminster Marshall First School

Grow, Achieve, Inspire, Nurture. SMFS where learning is an adventure.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Policy

Adopted: 12/11/2019     

Staff Lead: Mrs H Hockham     Governor Committee: Curriculum & School Improvement Committee (CSI)

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) applies to children from birth to the end of the Reception year.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the following documents: Admissions Policy, Health and Safety Policy, Behaviour Policy, Safeguarding Policy.

Our Vision

At Sturminster Marshall First School we believe that:

  • Children are naturally eager to learn. Through positive interactions with others and their environment they will develop knowledge, skills and positive dispositions for life-long learning.
  • Children need security, love, friendship, encouragement, motivation, stimulation, praise and consideration to develop as individuals.
  • The whole child is important- social, emotional, physical, intellectual and moral developments are interrelated.
  • In the Early Years children learn best through first-hand experiences and a stimulating environment is needed to foster and develop lively, imaginative, enquiring minds.
  • Children should be given sufficient opportunities to develop knowledge, confidence, self-esteem, independence, self-discipline, individuality, responsibility, perseverance, co-operation and social awareness.
  • Children benefit from a positive partnership between home and school. Parents play a pivotal role in their children’s development and by working in partnership with them we will help each child to reach their potential.

An Early Years Curriculum should be taught through:

  • First-hand experiences which reflect and support each area of the EYFS curriculum.
  • Fun, playful practical activities which are supported by skilled adults.
  • Opportunities for sustained, planned play which motivates and challenges each child.
  • A good balance between adult-led and child initiated activities.

Safety and Welfare

The safety and welfare of our children is paramount. As a school, we have robust policies and procedures in place to ensure their safety. In Reception, we provide a safe and secure environment and provide a curriculum which teaches children how to take risks, follow rules and stay safe. We comply with the welfare requirements set out in the Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage and understand we must:

  • Promote the welfare of all children.
  • Promote good health and healthy lifestyles.
  • Manage behaviour effectively and appropriately.
  • Ensure all adults working with children are suitable to do so.
  • Ensure that the environment is safe and all equipment and furniture is fit for purpose.
  • Ensure all children have a challenging and enjoyable learning experience.

Child Protection

All practitioners are alert to signs of possible abuse and neglect. Practitioners are trained to understand the schools’ Child Protection policy and receive annual training in local or topical issues. Staff have access to ‘My Concern’ safeguarding system to log any concerns regarding any aspects of safeguarding and behaviour.

Staff sign the schools’ Acceptable Use Agreement which includes a clause on the use of mobile phones / personal equipment for taking pictures of pupils. Practitioners do however use iPads, cameras and other recording devices which are registered to the school to record evidence of children’s learning. Many of these are used in children’s learning journeys and profiles, class displays and on the schools’ websites. All parents/carers are asked for permission to take and use pupil images on admission to school.

Suitable People

All practitioners and volunteers who work in the EYFS have been subject to the relevant checks before working in the setting. Each class is taught by a qualified teacher and a Teaching Assistant who has gone through DCC and national checks.

First Aid

Both EYFS Teaching Assistants hold the Paediatric First aid qualification which is a statutory requirement of the EYFS.

The Early Years Curriculum

At Sturminster Marshall First School we adhere to the EYFS Statutory Regulations September 2014 and have chosen to follow Development Matters. As a Reception team, we teach according to the principles of the four themes of the EYFS:

A Unique Child – Each child is viewed as an individual with unique needs, ideas and interests. We recognise that children develop in different ways and at different rates but all have the capacity to be resilient, capable and confident.

Enabling Environments – Our learning environment is exciting, motivating and provides both support and challenge for all children.

Positive Relationships – Adults are sensitive to the needs and feelings of all children. They form positive, nurturing relationships with them and set clear boundaries.

Learning and Development – Children are taught according to their individual needs. All children are supported and challenged appropriately through a variety of fun, open ended activities and carefully planned play.

Putting these Principles into Practice

Through our practice, we:

  • Provide a balanced curriculum across all areas of learning.
  • Promote equal opportunities to ensure all children can access our curriculum and make progress.
  • Work closely with parents and form links with the wider community.
  • Plan challenging learning opportunities which are informed by observation and assessment.
  • Develop positive relationships with individual children.
  • Provide a safe and secure learning environment, maximising our use of the outdoors.

Learning Development.pdf

Our approach to teaching and learning recognises how children learn. We use a balance of child-initiated and adult –led activities to allow children sufficient time to be independent and guide their own learning whilst still providing quality learning opportunities with an adult. We use a variety of strategies and teach according to children’s individual next steps in learning. As a team, we value the outdoor environment and the role it has in children’s learning. We ensure that we plan opportunities for quality outdoor play and encourage children to access our outdoor area during their child-initiated learning.

Adults play a vital role in supporting, challenging and extending children’s learning. All adults have a clear role during child-initiated learning – for example modelling ideas, questioning, offering suggestions or clarifying/challenging children’s thinking.

Characteristics of Effective Learning

Throughout the year, we reflect on the different ways the children learn and the extent to which they demonstrate the three Characteristics of Effective Learning:

  • Playing and exploring - Children make sense of the world around them by trying out ideas, communicating and playing alongside others. They practise and refine new skills in a safe and supportive learning environment.
  • Active Learning – Children are motivated and eager to learn through ‘doing’. They take ownership of their learning and show a sense of self-satisfaction and pride in their achievements.
  • Creating and Thinking Critically – Children develop the ability to think creatively and problem solve. They see connections in their learning and develop the ability to consider alternative approaches.

As a Reception team, we recognise the importance of these characteristics and the role they have in enabling children to reach their potential. Through modelling, questioning, suggesting ideas and challenging the children’s thinking we create an environment where they can develop the skills and dispositions associated with each of the three characteristics of effective learning.

Our Context

We have one Reception class, with 30 children. The class has a mix of ages and abilities. There is a full-time teacher and teaching assistant. There are daily opportunities to develop the children’s independence and allows Reception staff to form relationships with them. There is an outdoor area which children can access throughout the day and which supports all areas of the EYFS curriculum.

Observation and Planning

Observation is part of our daily practice and is used to inform future planning for groups and individual children. Our observations are recorded through ‘bubble-ups’, photographs, videos and annotations of children’s work. All adults are involved in contributing to each child’s learning journey which builds up a picture of their unique development and progress. We welcome and value contributions from parents and other adults who work with the children – for example after school clubs and child-minders. Most importantly the children are also encouraged to take ownership of their learning and select work or photographs they would like to add to their learning journeys.

Our carefully planned curriculum allows children to make progress towards each of the Early Learning Goals. We plan topics which excite and engage the children, cater for their varying interests and build upon their prior knowledge. Each topic covers all areas of learning but may have a particular focus on one or two areas. Planning is flexible and we respond to the changing needs of the children. All topic planning overviews are put on the school website.


On-entry judgements (Baseline) are made during the first half term that children are in school. These are based on observing the knowledge, skills and dispositions that the children consistently demonstrate independently and in a range of contexts. These observations and judgements are used to inform next steps for learning and identify children who may need additional support or challenge.

Throughout the year, we observe and work alongside the children to build up a picture of their development and progress. These judgements, alongside evidence from teacher led activities, are used to complete their end of year EYFS Profile. The EYFS profile sums up and describes each child’s development and learning attainment at the end of their Reception Year. It is based on ongoing observation and assessment in the seven areas of learning. The EYFS Profile is shared with parents as part of each child’s end of year report and is used by Year One teacher to enable them to plan their next steps.


All children are valued as individuals, regardless of their ethnicity, culture, religion, home language, background, ability or gender and have equal access to all aspects of school life. Adults in the Reception class act as role-models in promoting positive attitudes to diversity.

Our approach to teaching and learning supports and challenges children according to their individual needs and allows them to progress. Our planning meets the needs of children with special educational needs, children who are more able, children with disabilities and children from all social and cultural backgrounds.

We recognise that for some children there may be barriers to learning. Early identification of children with additional needs is crucial and we work closely with the school’s Inclusion Leader, parents and outside agencies to ensure all children are given the support they require.

Parents as Partners

We recognise that parents are children’s first and most enduring educators and we value their involvement. We form and maintain positive relationships with parents through:

  • Holding information evenings before the children start school.
  • Talking to them about their child’s interests and needs during our introductory sessions in school.
  • Being welcoming and approachable and having an open-door approach for parents to voice concerns/raise questions.
  • Inviting them to a parent consultation in the Autumn and Summer Term to discuss how their child has settled and share progress and next steps for learning.
  • Valuing parents’ contributions to learning journeys.
  • Inviting parents into school to be part of some of our end of topic celebrations.
  • Encouraging parents to read with their child at home and make comments in their reading record books.
  • Sending home, a weekly home learning task to help parents support and consolidate the learning that has taken place during the week.
  • Providing curriculum planning overviews for each topic highlighting how they can support their child at home.
  • Inviting parents into school for ‘parent phonics’ sessions to demonstrate how we teach phonics and help them support their child.
  • Welcoming parents as volunteers in our Reception class.
  • Providing parents with an end of year report containing their EYFS profile and a summary of their achievements.


The vast majority of children joining Reception have attended one of the nurseries or pre-schools in the local area. To ease transition into Reception, we visit as many pre-schools as possible in the summer term in order to meet the children and discuss individual needs with their key person. The children are also invited into sessions in the Summer Term where the children have the opportunity to spend the afternoon in school, meeting their new class mates and getting to know the adults and classrooms. A ‘Welcome meeting’ for new parents is held in June and gives information regarding the Early Years curriculum and how Reception works.

Children are at statutory age the term after their 5th birthday and therefore are required to be in school full-time.

At the end of the Reception year as part our whole school transition process the children visit the Year One classroom and meet the staff. On our Transfer Day, the children spend a morning in their new class with their teacher and teaching assistant.

Monitoring of the EYFS

We are committed to providing the best possible experiences for our children. The EYFS leader is responsible for monitoring provision, teaching and learning and children’s progress. Information is shared with the Head teacher, Assessment Leader and Reception team as appropriate and any necessary actions are taken.

All adults in the Reception team have a key role in children’s learning and development. Therefore, they are required to be knowledgeable and skilled in the EYFS curriculum. Any training needs for existing or new members of staff are identified and addressed as part of performance management targets.

Mrs H Hockham Early Years Leader