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Early Years



At St Leonard’s Lower School, we are growing and learning together with God’s Love. Our Christian values are embedded in all that we do.


We recognise that every child is a unique individual within God’s creation and our aim is to provide the rich soil (the learning environment and curriculum) that enables our children to develop deep roots, flourish and grow in their own unique way.


In the Early Years we recognise the importance of establishing firm roots that will enable pupils to develop the essential knowledge and skills required for the next stages in learning. 


The Early Years Foundation Stage is based upon four overarching principles:

A Unique Child

Positive Relationships

Enabling Environments 

Learning and Development


We aim to offer an Early Years provision based on the following principles:


1. Ensuring that no child is excluded or disadvantaged

2. Including opportunities to cater for all learning styles

3. Providing an effective transition from home to school

4. Offering a structure for learning that has:

    • a range of starting points

    • provides context and content that matches the needs of young children

    • opportunities for learning both indoors and outdoors.


All children in Foundation Stage at St Leonard’s Lower School are given equal opportunities to discover their strengths and abilities through an exciting, engaging and challenging curriculum.  Practitioners are equipped to support, listen and respond to the children through every stage of their development and share the vision that each child is individual and unique. We aim to provide an environment where children can flourish, grow in confidence and are prepared for a happy and successful journey through school. In order to achieve this, we focus on developing social skills, enabling them to work successfully within a group situation, sharing ideas, turn taking and to develop empathy.  Parents are valued as partners in their child’s achievements and next steps in learning through effective communication and regular opportunities to share and celebrate progress and attainment together.




Teaching and learning is meaningful, systematic and progressive, enabling all children to have a clear understanding of the knowledge they are discovering. Each child is supported to explore their developing skills across all areas of learning, taking into account their individual needs and abilities. Children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) will be educated in accordance with the Code of Practice; the curriculum will be modified wherever possible to cater for their needs and guidance from the school SENDCo will be followed. No child will be excluded solely because of their individual needs. The focus will be on removing barriers for children where these already exist and on preventing learning difficulties from developing.

The topics and themes that we teach are designed to enhance the immediate and wider diverse community our children belong to and to reflect their personal interests. We use high quality texts as a basis for topic planning and to support phonics teaching and we usually start with an exciting book to engage children. Our continuous provision in the classroom and outdoor learning environments are engaging and challenging, enabling children to have the highest quality of education.

A significant part of our work with the children is to prepare them for the next stages in their learning and development.  Children are given carefully planned, daily opportunities to work together with their friends and teachers in a collaborative way to develop fundamental social, emotional, behaviour and communication skills. They are equally encouraged to explore independent learning so that they gain a greater understanding of their unique personal qualities in order to achieve their best. Our high expectations for positive learning behaviours, high engagement and creativity are in daily practise, enabling all children to feel safe, motivated and valued. 


Our aim is to support all children to develop, consolidate and deepen their knowledge, understanding and skills across the 7 areas of learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.


Personal, Social and Emotional Development is central to all the experiences that we offer the children across Early Years. They are the life skills though which we encourage the children to have respect for themselves and others, develop their social interactions and positive dispositions to learn.

We use the Jigsaw scheme of work to help children to explore Personal, Social and Emotional development.


Communication and Language is fundamental to the teaching and learning in Early Years. We encourage the children to become confident at speaking, listening and in using their imaginations to communicate. Having high aspirations for our children to use and apply more complex language impacts on their ability to talk, express their thoughts, read, write and spell. We read frequently to the children, engaging them actively in high quality texts including stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts. Our Early Years teacher is Elklan speech and language trained and plans interventions and experiences to support children who require additional support in this area. 


Physical Development of the children is encouraged through opportunities for them to be active and interactive and to improve their skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement. We teach the importance of keeping healthy and being aware of their bodies. We use the Primary PE planning scheme to support progression in this area of the curriculum. 


Literacy Reading and writing skills are promoted through carefully planned and systematic teaching and activities throughout the year. We share a range of books and rhymes with the children and encourage them to explore writing and mark making though role-play and creative activities. Phonics is taught systematically through the Read Write Inc scheme daily, which also supports early writing and handwriting and children have sustained opportunities to apply their developing skills in their speaking, reading and writing.


Mathematical Development focuses on the knowledge and skills which enable young children to become confident and independent in the use of numbers. Mathematics is taught through daily dedicated sessions and learning is supported through the continuous provision in the setting. The children are given opportunities to recognise and use numbers reliably, to develop mathematical ideas and to solve problems. Shape, space and measure is also explored. We use the Hamilton scheme to support progressive and sequential learning in mathematics. 


Understanding the World is an exciting part of our curriculum which includes designing and making, computing, time, place and communities. Carefully planned activities help to support the children in developing the knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world in which we live. We use the Understanding Christianity Scheme, and the Emmanuel project resources to support our early teaching in Religious Education.


Expressive Arts and Design enables the children to explore their creativity. These include art, music, movement, dance, imaginative and role-play activities. We will support the children in exploring and sharing their thoughts and feelings through a variety of areas of learning.

We use the Charanga scheme of work to support musical development. 

Early Years is very much a part of the whole school and the children take part in (whole) school collective wordship, visits to the Church, trips and social events.



Monitoring and Evaluation


Monitoring, assessment, evaluation, observations and record keeping will be ongoing and reviewed regularly to ensure that each child is making progress towards achieving the Early Learning Goals and is ready to enter statutory education and commence the National Curriculum. Evaluation of the children’s work and development will be made in and out of the classroom to assess outcomes and progress; samples of work will be taken; children will be talked to in order to find out what they know, understand and can do. The results will be checked against our own skills and knowledge progression, development matters outcomes and the early learning goals and will be finalised through observing the child to see if they are emerging, exceeding or expected. Regular and ongoing assessment (including baseline assessments at the start of reception year) allows individual children to be identified for additional support. Parents will be informed on a regular basis of the progress of their child through written or oral feedback. All staff within the EYFS class will have access to Target Tracker which they will use to observe and assess the children. Observations and assessments will be used to plan and cater for individual needs.



From their own starting points, children will make excellent progress academically and socially, developing a sense of themselves so that they are well prepared for the transition into Key Stage 1.

Children will demonstrate high levels of engagement in activities, developing their speaking and listening skills, enabling them to access more areas of the learning and communicate to both adults and children.

Children will develop skills across all areas of the curriculum including Literacy, Mathematics and Physical Development using these in different ways.

Children will have developed a wider sense of the world around them and can draw on these experiences during interactions with others and link this to new learning.

Children will have developed their Characteristics of Learning and be able to apply their knowledge to a range of situations making links and explaining their ideas and understanding.

Children will be confident to take risks and discuss their successes and failures with adults drawing on their experiences to improve or adjust what they are doing.

Children will be successful learners and fully prepared for the next stage of their education as they transition from Foundation Stage to Year One.

We will also aim to help children to make sense of the world around them, to develop tolerance, compassion and an understanding of their rights and the rights of others in an ever evolving world.

Children at the end of Foundation stage will have developed essential knowledge and skills required for everyday life and lifelong learning.