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Early Years Curriculum

At The Lea, we are continually striving to be at the forefront of new initiatives in education and are guided by the latest advice and best practice. With that in mind, last year we decided to become an early adopter school for the new Early Years curriculum –  following the new Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework in 2020/21. This framework became statutory from September 2021 and we are pleased to say that our year as an early adopter school means that our staff are up to date with the latest expectations and the provision we put in place can meet those expectations for our children.

The Lea Early Years - Children Interacting

The curriculum

The EYFS curriculum is based on the overarching principles that learning and development depends on each unique child having the opportunity to interact to form positive relationships within enabling environments.  It is divided into 7 areas of learning and development which are all interconnected and help shape the ‘whole child’.

7 areas of learning


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


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

The Prime Areas of learning are three areas that are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving.
The Specific Areas of learning are the four areas that underpin and strengthen the prime areas of learning.  

At The Lea, we ensure the children have the opportunity to develop all of the 7 areas of learning but recognise that children need to have strong foundations in the prime areas to able to access and deepen their knowledge in the specific areas.

Our long-term curriculum overview for Nursery and Reception can be found on the link below. Please note that this is a working document and is under a state of constant review – this overview was accurate as of Autumn 2022.

EYFS Nursery Curriculum
EYFS Reception Curriculum

Characteristics of effective learning

We observe and support the children’s attitude and approach to learning by encouraging:

  • 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

This also links to our whole school growth mindset approach.

Seven key features of effective practice

There are seven key features of effective practice in which we consider and plan for carefully at The Lea.  These are:

  • The best for every child
  • High Quality care
  • The Curriculum
  • Pedagogy
  • Assessment
  • Self-Regulation
  • Partnership with parents

Support at home

Working in partnership with parents and carers is central to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). We know that a successful relationship between home and school has a significant impact on learning and that parents can make a crucial difference.


At the end of Reception, children will be assessed against 17 Early learning Goals (ELG) and a judgement  will be made to whether they  are meeting the expected standard or emerging.

Communication and Language

ELG: Listening, Attention and Understanding
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Listen attentively and respond to what they hear with relevant questions, comments and actions when being read to and during whole class discussions and small group interactions;
– Make comments about what they have heard and ask questions to clarify their understanding;
– Hold conversation when engaged in back-and-forth exchanges with their teacher and peers.

ELG: Speaking
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Participate in small group, class and one-to-one discussions, offering their own ideas, using recently introduced vocabulary;
– Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate;
– Express their ideas and feelings about their experiences using full sentences, including use of past, present and future tenses and making use of conjunctions, with modelling and support from their teacher.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

ELG: Self-Regulation
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Show an understanding of their own feelings and those of others, and begin to regulate their behaviour accordingly;
– Set and work towards simple goals, being able to wait for what they want and control their immediate impulses when appropriate;
– Give focused attention to what the teacher says, responding appropriately even when engaged in activity, and show an ability to follow instructions involving several ideas or actions.

ELG: Managing Self
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Be confident to try new activities and show independence, resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge;
– Explain the reasons for rules, know right from wrong and try to behave accordingly;
– Manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs, including dressing, going to the toilet and understanding the importance of healthy food choices.

ELG: Building Relationships
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Work and play cooperatively and take turns with others;
– Form positive attachments to adults and friendships with peers;
– Show sensitivity to their own and to others’ needs.

Physical Development

ELG: Gross Motor Skills
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Negotiate space and obstacles safely, with consideration for themselves and others;
– Demonstrate strength, balance and coordination when playing;
– Move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping, skipping and

ELG: Fine Motor Skills
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Hold a pencil effectively in preparation for fluent writing – using the tripod grip in almost all cases;
– Use a range of small tools, including scissors, paint brushes and cutlery;
– Begin to show accuracy and care when drawing.


ELG: Comprehension
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary;
– Anticipate – where appropriate – key events in stories;
– Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role-play.

ELG: Word Reading
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs;
– Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending;
– Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.

ELG: Writing
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed;
– Spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters;
– Write simple phrases and sentences that can be read by others.


ELG: Number
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Have a deep understanding of number to 10, including the composition of each number;
– Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5;
– Automatically recall (without reference to rhymes, counting or other aids) number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some number bonds to 10, including double facts.

ELG: Numerical Patterns
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Verbally count beyond 20, recognising the pattern of the counting system;
– Compare quantities up to 10 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity;
– Explore and represent patterns within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds, double facts and how quantities can be distributed equally.

Understanding the World

ELG: Past and Present
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society;
– Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class;
– Understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class and storytelling.

ELG: People, Culture and Communities
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps;
– Know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class;
– Explain some similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries, drawing on knowledge from stories, non-fiction texts and – when appropriate – maps.

ELG: The Natural World
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Explore the natural world around them, making observations and drawing pictures of animals and plants;
– Know some similarities and differences between the natural world around them and contrasting environments, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class;
– Understand some important processes and changes in the natural world around them, including the seasons and changing states of matter.

Expressive Arts and Design

ELG: Creating with Materials
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function;
– Share their creations, explaining the process they have used;
– Make use of props and materials when role playing characters in narratives and stories.

ELG: Being Imaginative and Expressive
Children at the expected level of development will:
– Invent, adapt and recount narratives and stories with peers and their teacher;
– Sing a range of well-known nursery rhymes and songs;
– Perform songs, rhymes, poems and stories with others, and – when appropriate – try to move in time with music.

50 Things to do before you’re five

This new initiative provides inspiration for parents and carers to connect with children through a range of activities, all designed to have a positive impact on learning and health. It helps parents develop their home learning environment, suggesting a wide range of low-cost and no-cost local activities. The 50 Things approach improves early language and literacy, motor skills and resilience.

Click on this link to find out more.