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St Dominic Savio Catholic Primary School ‘Serve the Lord with Joy’

Early Years

"The strong early years curriculum means that children embed essential knowledge about numbers and letters. Children also participate in play activities, which inspire them with new words and ideas."

(Ofsted, February 2020)

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“Reception should not just be a repeat of what children learned in their nursery or pre-school, or with their childminder. They deserve better than facing years of catching up.”

(Amanda Spielman, Ofsted Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, November 2017)


“By the end of Reception, the ability to read, write and use numbers is fundamental. They are the building blocks for all other learning.”

(‘Bold Beginnings’ Ofsted report November 2017)

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a stage of development from birth to the end of Reception. Children do best when parents and teachers work together in partnership. The staff in Reception work with every family to ensure that each child achieves their full potential.


The EYFS is based on four principles:

1. The Unique Child - every child is a competent learner who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

2. Positive Relationships - children learn to be strong and independent from a base of secure and loving parents and/or key person.

3. Enabling Environments - the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.

4. Learning and Development – children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. There are seven Areas of Learning and Development. All areas are important and interconnected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas are: communication and language; physical development, and personal, social and emotional development. In addition, there are four specific areas through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are: literacy; mathematics; understanding the world and expressive arts and design.


Our 'traditional' focus in Reception

  • In the mornings, Reception lessons are delivered in a similar format to teaching in Years 1 and 2. Children learn through whole class instructional teaching and then have time to practise their learning. This also ensures effective transition to Year 1 and high expectations of what Reception children can achieve.
  • We make the teaching of reading (synthetic phonics) the core purpose of the Reception year.
  • We attach great importance to the teaching of numbers in building children's fluency in counting, recognising small numbers of items, comparing numbers and solving problems.
  • We ensure that when children are writing, resources are suitable for their stage of development and that they are taught correct pencil grip and how to sit correctly at a table.
  • We have daily lessons in the direct teaching of reading, writing and maths, including frequent opportunities for children to practise and consolidate their skills. 
  • We prioritise the teaching of vocabulary to children.
  • Afternoons are focused on children exploring learning through the Reception setting.


"Social science research in the US has shown a consistent correlation between income and vocabulary size. Students who have been read to as toddlers, and who understand the language of the classroom are constantly building up their knowledge and vocabulary in school. Those who come from less advantaged homes enter school without the verbal repertoire and knowledge that enable them to thrive. Instead they fall further behind fortunate children."

(Professor E.D. Hirsch, 2013).


How to Help Your Child

  • Encourage your child to be independent (boys as well as girls). For example: tidying up their toys at the end of the day, putting their plate and cutlery in the sink after eating a meal, putting on, or taking off shoes and jackets and putting their dirty clothes in the basket at bath time. The children will then use their independence in their learning at school.
  • Each week share and enjoy books together (with the TV off). Read and tell stories to your child in your home language as well as in English.
  • Please speak to your child in your home language. They will learn English quicker if you do.
  • Afford your child opportunities to do a variety of activities. Limit the time they are allowed to spend on the computer/mobile devices e.g. iPad or watching TV
  • Learning at this age does not fit neatly into categories; almost anything you do can become a useful learning experience. For example: cooking, shopping, dressing and undressing, writing lists, crossing the days off a calendar, talking about what you can see in the park or on the street and counting the stairs as you go up and down.
  • Please communicate with the Reception staff. This may be about significant events and interests or concerns and worries.

Early Adopter Framework