Early Years

The EYFS Curriculum at West Jesmond 

         Curiosity, Confidence, Creativity and Community 


At West Jesmond Primary School, it is our intent that all of our children have a first year at school which is rich with wonder, memorable experiences and outstanding teaching. We want all of our children love coming to school. The creative, purposeful and thought-provoking play-based activities within our environment allow all children to thrive in curiosity and engagement. We create a safe, secure, nurturing and inclusive environment which promotes children’s self-confidence, independence, resilience and self-esteem. Our EYFS curriculum supports our children in becoming competent, curious and creative learners. They develop into skilful communicators who are not afraid to ask questions or to express their own thoughts and ideas and are supported in becoming secure and confident individuals who are respectful and supportive. Our curriculum is ambitious, carefully planned and designed with the intent that all children can actively participate from their own unique starting points and will flourish regardless of backgrounds, circumstances or needs. Our curriculum is designed to build skills, knowledge and vocabulary across the children’s time in EYFS which lay the foundations for future learning across the National Curriculum and prepares them for learning in Year 1 and beyond. We aim to work collaboratively with parents and carers to encourage independent, enthusiastic learners who thrive and reach their full potential. We promote the very best relationship between home and school; helping families be actively involved in life at school and well informed about how best to support their child.  It is our intent that all of our children will leave Reception as a reader and each child will receive the teaching of early reading through daily systematic, synthetic phonics. We are determined that through outstanding teaching, all of our children leave us as successful learners, making the best progress they can.


In Reception we aim to support the implementation of our curriculum by developing motivating first-hand experiences to enable children to learn more and remember more. The curriculum provides a play-based and experiential learning environment combined with focused teaching which supports all children to make rapid progress from their starting points. We ensure all children are given ample opportunities to widen their experiences and understanding through the use of local visits, trips, visitors and engaging topic hooks which create awe and wonderment. Our weekly timetable is carefully planned so that all children receive a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities and challenges. We provide vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision which is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development including Understanding the World, Expressive Arts and Design as well as promoting sustained thinking and active learning.    

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Children follow a highly engaging synthetic systematic phonics programme called ‘Floppys Phonics’ which develops children’s fluency, confidence and enjoyment in reading. Children are sent home with fully decodable phonics reading books that are tailored and suited to their individual phonics level. At all stages throughout the delivery of the programme, children’s reading attainment is assessed and gaps are addressed quickly and effectively. Parents are fully involved in the teaching of phonics with regular workshops, presentations and online support materials. New vocabulary and concepts are developed through reading high-quality vocabulary-rich texts which excite and engage all learners.

 We follow the ‘White Rose’ Maths Mastery approach in Reception with an emphasis on studying key skills of number, calculation and shape so that pupils develop deep understanding and the acquisition of Mathematical language. Pupils learn through specific adult-led teaching session, alongside opportunities to learn through practical activities using concrete manipulatives. These collaborative and practical mathematical experiences are carefully designed to help pupils remember the content they have been taught and to support them with integrating their new knowledge across the breadth of their experiences into large concepts. Teaching mathematics in such a kinaesthetic and practical way supports our children to become logical problem solvers that can demonstrate resilience and justification when learning. This approach to teaching Maths ensures children gain progressive mathematical knowledge and skills as they continue their journey through KS1. 

Play is at the heart of our pedagogy and is expertly supported by the EYFS team to develop children’s understanding and to support them acquiring specific skills. We believe it offers the opportunity to model skills, vocabulary, encourage children to explore and explain their ideas and to undertake informal assessments which inform our next steps for learning. Balance is crucial so that play and ideas have equal value to adult-led learning opportunities. Planned adult-led activities provide the opportunity to introduce specific skills, knowledge and vocabulary progressively in a sequence. Adult initiated activities enhance the continuous provision and provide children with a springboard for their learning. 

Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together. Alongside that, we also provide effective and focused intervention for those children who need it. This is provided in an inclusive and flexible manner depending on the needs of the individual children. Use of pre-teaching opportunities, interventions or targeting children as they play can also support specific learners to develop key concepts, skills, knowledge and vocabulary. Support from parents is also enlisted at an early stage to ensure that the children have every chance to achieve to their full potential. 

Class teachers record ongoing individual observations and photographs of children’s learning, play and interests. These observations are used to support teachers make to informative assessments and inform potential next steps for each child, this includes careful consideration of children with SEND or who are disadvantaged. Formal assessments are recorded using our whole school tracking system Sonar linking to the Early Learning Goals and through our online learning journals Tapestry which allow teachers to track areas of concern for each child.  These summative assessments are completed termly to judge each child’s progress across the 7 aspects of learning. Children are assessed against specific milestones developed across the Ouseburn Learning Trust to look at learning at key points in the year. This allows us to assess the impact of our teaching and decide if sufficient intervention measures are needed to help specific children. This is reported to members of the SLT during pupil progress meetings. The judgements of our school are moderated with other schools across both the LEA and our own Ouseburn Learning Trust. This ensures our judgements are secure and consistent with government guidelines. Our teaching and pedagogy are reviewed and evaluated through weekly team briefings and monthly team training led by the EYFS lead.  EYFS staff attend all staff training across all curriculum areas so we are well informed. Curriculum leads work alongside EYFS staff to make sure we have laid a solid foundation of curriculum understanding ready for the National Curriculum.

What you will see in the EYFS at West Jesmond 

  •  A play-based and experiential learning environment combined with focused outstanding teaching.
  •  In their play, children demonstrate being independent learners, problem solvers and creative thinkers.
  •  An environment with motivating first-hand experiences which enable children to learn more and remember more.
  •  Extended periods of play offered to children to promote high levels of engagement and develop sustained thinking.
  • Children are offered ample opportunities to access both indoor and outdoor provision, with a clear rationale and ethos for each different space.
  • Children experiencing rich, first-hand experiences which promote awe and wonder.
  • Warm and skilful interactions between children and experienced staff who scaffolding vocabulary, ask thoughtful questions and use opportunities to reinforce and extend learning.
  • Staff systematically checking for understanding, identifying and responding to misconceptions quickly and providing real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning. 
  • An inclusive approach where all children learn together.
  • Carefully planned interventions where needed.
  • Children allowed to be successful in their attempts at an activity and using effective verbal feedback to help facilitate next steps in learning but providing enough challenge to develop resilience.
  • Use of high-quality texts as a basis for topic planning and use of an exciting book to engage children.
  • New vocabulary and concepts developed through reading high-quality vocab-rich texts which excite and engage all learners and embedded in a language-rich environment.
  • An emphasis on correct and ambitious vocabulary.  
  • Daily phonics teaching using Floppy’s Phonics; a systematic and structured approach to phonics with inbuilt regular consolidation of new skills to ensure the success of every child. Resources are highly engaging, multi-sensory and interactive. Floppy’s phonics vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension.
  • Maths curriculum is taught through daily dedicated sessions.
  • Use of pre-teaching to scaffold children in their understanding and communication.
  • Frequent opportunities for children to discuss and review their learning.


The impact of our teaching in the EYFS is that from their starting points, children will make excellent progress academically and socially and are well prepared for the transition into Key Stage 1. All children will leave us as happy and confident individuals alongside being an inquisitive and successful learner.  Children will transition into Year 1 with key knowledge and overarching concepts to enable them to access the requirements of the National Curriculum. 

Progress is measured across the year through formative and summative assessment which are based on the teacher’s knowledge of the child, their learning journals, photographs and videos recorded on tapestry. We aim to exceed the National and Local Authority data for children achieving Good Level of Development. We strive for all our children to make more than expected progress from their starting points.

Prior to children starting, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journey’s to gain an understanding of the whole child and where they are at. During the first half term in Reception, all staff use ongoing assessments, observations and conversations with the child to develop a baseline assessment. This identifies each individual’s starting points in all areas so we can plan experiences to ensure progress. Teachers also carry out the Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment.

All ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children and excessive paper work. Staff draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements through discussions with other practitioners, photographs and physical examples such as a child’s drawing / making. Some observations are uploaded using Tapestry and shared with the supporting parents and carers and examples kept in individual files.

Phonic assessments are carried out using phonics Tracker every half term to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ where possible. In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where teacher judge whether the child has met each of the 17 ELG’s. They will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected.’ Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers, have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher.

Impact is also evident through our successful transitions into Year 1. EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s link to the National Curriculum, and through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects – both core and foundation - children leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey as scientists, historians, artists and geographers. The EYFS Lead works closely with the Year 1 team in the Summer and Autumn term to ensure children settle well and EYFS and the Year 1 team cross-moderate evidence for children meeting the ELG to ensure a clear understanding of the expectations.

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 and developed a wider sense of the world around them. Children will be confident to take risks and show resilience when faced with a challenge. They will demonstrate an ability to apply their knowledge to a range of situations, making links and explaining their ideas and understanding.

Our Learning Environment

Here at West Jesmond, we aim to create an engaging and stimulating learning environment where children feel confident, secure and challenged. Play based learning is paramount to us and we believe very strongly in allowing our children to direct their own learning from carefully planned opportunities provided by staff. Staff play alongside the children, observing, modelling and extending their play to provide challenge and constant learning opportunities. Our environments are organised well to allow the children to choose equipment for themselves and children are very much encouraged to make decisions as to what they would like to learn about and finding the answers to their own questions.

The children have daily access to an indoor and outdoor environment that is set up in discrete areas of learning with planned continuous provision. Outdoor learning forms a large part of the Foundation Stage Curriculum. We optimise our outdoor learning spaces to encourage creative exploration and learning in a safe and secure area. By giving the children the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, we provide them with the freedom to move and find out about the world around them.

Assessing and Tracking children’s Learning

Assessment plays an important part in helping both of us as teachers, and parents to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. Alongside staff monitoring how children work in small group activities, we also assess the children’s learning by making observations of children throughout their day to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles. These observations take the form of photographs, videos, written notes and collecting pieces of the children’s independent work. Looking at these observations allows us to identify the level of development which the children are working at. We can then use this to help us shape new learning experiences for each child, helping them to move forward in their learning.

At the end of the year, all these observations and assessments, as well as information shared by parents, are compiled and the EYFS Profile is completed for each child. The Profile provides parents and carers, practitioners and teachers with a well-rounded picture of a child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities and their progress against expected levels in each of the seven areas. The profile aims to give a clear picture of the level each child is working at and their readiness for Year 1.

In each area of learning, the children will be assessed as being emerging (working towards a level appropriate for their age) or expected (working at a level appropriate for their age). This information will be shared with parents and will be the basis for a discussion with the Year 1 teachers. 

Communicating with Parents and Carers;

Communicating with parents and families is especially important to us, as discussions between home and school promote children’s successful learning and development. Here at West Jesmond Primary, we communicate with our parents in lots of ways to keep you up to date:

Learning Journals

The teachers and staff will regularly send you photos and videos showing families special learning moments. These observations may be of something new they have tried and enjoyed, show a piece of work or creation they are especially proud of, or to show a real move forward in their learning (for example, writing their name by themselves for the first time). Parents also contribute your own observations and add to our understanding of your child’s learning. 

Workshops and in-class sessions 

Throughout the Year in Reception, we run workshops for parents to help give support and advice on how to  practise key skills with children at home. 

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Phonics and Early Reading 
"It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing)" (EYFS Statutory Framework)

Welcome to our virtual guide to phonics and Early Reading.  


We hope your child has a fantastic start to their reading journey; both enjoying books, being read to and the excitement of reading independently using their early reading skills. We've drawn together some resources to help you get to grips with our approach to the teaching of reading and to offer ideas on how you can support your child at home. 


At West Jesmond Primary, we use Floppy’s Phonics, a systematic synthetic phonics programme, to teach our youngest readers how to decipher the alphabetical code. The Floppy's Phonics programme is a rigorous scheme of teaching and learning, which teaches children how to decipher the alphabetical code, as well as developing pupils’ vocabulary and language comprehension skills. Floppy’s Phonics teaches the letter/s-sound correspondences of the English alphabetic code explicitly and comprehensively for reading, spelling and handwriting.


The videos below explain phonics and how early reading skills are built up through developing links between letters and the sounds they make. 

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Below are a set of quick-reference sheets showing each of the sounds your child will be taught as they move through the levels of Floppy's Phonics.
Here are some useful information packs to help support your further as families. They further explain what Phonics is, how it works and develops, as well as giving additional ideas on how you can help at home. 
Developing Early Mathematics
"Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting - children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes".(EYFS Statutory Framework)

In our Early Years we believe that all our children can be successful mathematicians. Our environment ensures children are given time and spaces to explore mathematical ideas in ways that make personal sense to them and opportunities to develop mathematical concepts and understanding. Our effective teaching of mathematics takes place through whole-class adult-directed sessions, supportive consolidation activities in smaller groups and a range of opportunities for children to have meaningful, physical exploration of concepts that enables them to be embedded. We provide frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting – which supports all children to develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built.

Practitioners across EYFS take the time to understand children’s mathematical thinking through discussion, using the opportunities to reinforce key learning, introduce and scaffold the use of new important vocabulary, challenge and extend thinking and taking time to explore incidental concepts that arise. Our objective for our children throughout our Early Years is to ensure that all children develop firm mathematical foundations in a way that is engaging and talk-rich so they have a solid platform for continuing their mathematical journey into Year 1 and the National Curriculum. We also aim to instil positive attitudes and interest in mathematics, to help children look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.