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Our 'Characteristics of Effective Learning': Achievosaurs
Supporting children to remain an effective and motivated learner.
Giving children skills to be learners for life:
There are seven Achievosaurs altogether, each linking to an aspect of the characteristics. They enable children to become more aware of how they learn, and give them language to explain the skills they use when learning.
We are always excited to hear about learning at home.
Tapestry is an online Learning Journal that we use in Reception to record your child's work and activities. You can log in using your email address provided to school by clicking the link below.

EYFS Curriculum

Intent: why do we teach what we teach?

At Milborne St Andrew First School we place great value on the development of children as individuals and providing them with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to prepare them for the challenges in Key Stage One and beyond. 

The curriculum is designed to:

  • Recognise and value children’s prior learning from previous settings and home experiences.
  • Provide first hand engaging, stimulating and challenging, play-based learning experiences, allowing learners to build positive identities through managing and taking risks, having a go, developing resilience and promoting a ‘can do’ attitude.
  • Learner’s choices and interests are the driving force for building knowledge, skills and understanding.
  • Provide high quality provision, along with high quality interactions, so that we are laying the foundations for the children becoming independent, active, successful and ambitious lifelong learners.
  • Every child is valued as an individual, safe and well cared for.
  • Offer a balance of child-initiated and adult-led learning using a continuous provision based approach.

Our curriculum is therefore the cultural capital we know our pupils need so that they can gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. They can only do that if we embed the right habits for learning through the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning – Play and Exploration, Active Learning and Creative and Critical Thinking. 

We  teach children how to listen, speak and meet the high expectations for behaviour by working together and being kind. As such, we prioritise personal, social and emotional development and communication and language in the curriculum.   Our enabling environment and warm, skillful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration. We invest time and energy into helping pupils set and reflect on their own goals by aiming high and developing a love of reading, writing and number.  This is delivered through a holistic curriculum which maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking following children’s interests and ideas.  We value imagination and creativity and seek to create a sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning through a vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision, alongside trips, visits and regular Outdoor Education sessions. 

Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?

  • Across our EYFS, we follow the Early Years Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
  • The Framework specifies the requirement for learning and development in the Early Years and provides prime and specific areas of learning we must cover in our curriculum.
  • Prime Areas covered - Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development , Communication and Language development.
  • Specific Areas covered- Literacy, Mathematics , Understanding the World,  Expressive Arts and Design.
  • A vital aspect in the development of essential knowledge and skills is the use of continuous provision. This means that children are using and developing taught skills throughout the year on a daily/weekly basis.
  • Continuous Provision practice and principles begin in the Early Years Foundation Stage and support children to develop key life skills such as independence; creativity, enquiry and problem solving.
  • Continuous provision areas are set up to reflect children’s interests, as well as ensuring that reading, writing and maths are high profile.
  • Throughout a typical day, learners will have the opportunity to work independently, work collaboratively with their peers and work with practitioners.

Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities.  The timetable is carefully structured so that children have rigorous directed teaching in Talk4Writing, Mathematics, Shared Reading and Phonics everyday with regular circle time sessions to focus on PSED.  These sessions are followed by group work where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets.  This focused group time means the teacher can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.   

Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas. The curriculum is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development including understanding the world and expressive art and design as well as to promote sustained thinking and active learning. When planning, teachers reflect on three questions: “What do our focus individuals need to learn or are curious about? What embedded learning have we observed in this area?  What can be changed to exploit the learning and interests of the children/individuals in this area?”  In this way, we ensure that the children have agency over their environment and that the provision leads to depth of learning across the curriculum.  

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum.  Children follow the rigorous and successful Essential Letters and Sounds program faithfully so that they meet good outcomes for reading. In line with the rest of the school, Reception have a big question to answer over the course of the year which is broken down into a question for each half-term unit. The themes are based on foundational ideas coming from the EYFS curriculum: from “how to friendships grow?” as part of PSED, to “how can I be healthy?” related to health and self-care. From this, we have chosen multiple high-quality texts to create an integrated approach to learning from which pupils can experience the full curriculum. 

We follow the 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 games and tasks using concrete manipulatives which are then rehearsed and applied to their own learning during exploration. These early 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 and into larger concepts. 

Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be reaching their potential or moving on children who are doing very well. The characteristics of effective learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations of children. 

Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?

Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND, so we spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning.  This is achieved through talking to children, looking at their work, observing their learning experiences and analysing data and progress by year group, class, groups and individuals. Every member of staff uses ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress.  We use this information on a weekly basis to plan learning experiences and next steps so that knowledge and skills are built cumulatively.   During each assessment window, three times a year, teachers update the progress children have made during Pupil Progress meetings with the Head Teacher which allows us to assess the impact of teaching and evaluate whether it has been enough.   Evidence of children’s learning including observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents are kept online in their Tapestry ‘learning journals’ which children use to reflect on their progress through pupil voice. 

Our curriculum and its delivery ensure that children make good progress. During their time in our EYFS, children make good progress so that we meet the national expectation for GLD at the end of the year.  Pupils also make good progress toward their age-related expectations before transitioning into Year One.  We believe our standards are due to the enriched play-based exploration alongside the rigour of assessment and teaching the children have as they move through the early years – a rich diet of balanced learning experiences is undoubtedly the best way to develop happy, curious children. 

  • The impact of our curriculum is measured by our observations and assessments that we carry out on a daily basis.
  • The impact on our curriculum is measured by how well practitioners know each individual child.
  • The impact of our curriculum is measured by internal termly data, as well as measuring outcomes against the LA and nationally at the end of the EYFS phase.
  • The impact of our curriculum will also, in fact, be measured by how effectively it helps our learners to develop into well rounded individuals who are independent, active, successful and ambitious lifelong learners.
Early Years Curriculum
Thank you to the parents that join us regularly in the classroom for 'Workshop' fun and 'Stay and Play' sessions. The children love having you in the classroom to share their learning. Take a look below to see some of the things that we have talked through, access the documents shared and enjoy the photographs of you and your child at work.


Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. It runs alongside other teaching methods such as Shared Reading to help children develop all the other vital reading skills and hopefully give them a real love of reading. 

So what is phonics?

Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and to spell words


They are taught GPCs. This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.


Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.


Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.


To help the children become confident with their sounds we shall be learning the letters, four per week, through the ELS programme. Please help your child by practising the sound alongside the visual representation on the flashcard. These flashcards also have a rhyme to help us with our letter formation. Please use the video below to hear the alphabet letters being sounded out as we are teaching them, as well as the vowel digraphs and consonant digraphs that we will be moving onto after we have completed the alphabet.

To support this learning, your child will also be bringing home their first books with words. These books are picture books with a sound focus on each page as well as ‘The Little Blending Book’ with a word on each page. Your child is at the ‘getting ready to read’ stage and we ask that you read with your child at least three to four times a week to build up their confidence. This can be a single page or the whole book. The children are immersed in sounds at school and hopefully this will continue at home through the sharing of their reading book.

How to support your child at this stage:

  •          Enjoy sharing and talking about books
  •          Help them to recognise their own name
  •          Help them to recognise some letter sounds e.g. some of the sounds in their name
  •          Model a narrative for each page using story telling language. As you talk, ask your child questions to add detail to the story. Eventually the children will want to tell you a story about what is happening on each page.

At this stage your child’s reading relies on the following:

  •        Memory: Don’t be concerned if your child seems to be memorising rather than reading (please don’t cover up the picture, use it to talk about and identify characters, events and settings and ask questions to develop observational skills)
  •        Seeing and Hearing: In order to recognise individual words and letters in reading, children need to be good at identifying things that are the same or different. Draw attention to the starting sound of a word and then ask them to find another word beginning with the same letter sound or think of a word that rhymes (so that it will be a different sound at the start).

For more information on phonics please take a look at the powerpoint below.

Thank you for your support.

Miss Jenna Wittman

Talk 4 Writing

“Writers love words. If children do not love words, then why should they spend time loitering over reading and writing? A good teacher brings words alive. In some ways, teachers are the guardians of our language – the well-turned phrase, the beautifully constructed argument, the story that will stay in the mind for ever. “

Pie Corbett 2008.

As a school, Milborne St Andrew First School use the Pie Corbett Transforming Reading and Writing approach through Talk for Writing. Children are immersed in high quality texts and then spend time imitating, innovating and inventing their own writing. We also use the Reading Spine books recommended by Pie Corbett to embed the adventurous vocabulary in the minds of our children.  


Through a variety of games, activities and direct teaching, children at Milborne St Andrew First School are engaged in spoken language and the importance of being a confident communicator. Opportunities for peer communication, cross phase performances and wider community opportunities are regularly taken by children in our school.


If you would like to see Talk 4 Writing 'in action' in the Early Years, please do come to our Harvest workshop where you can see Reception actively learning using this approach in our 'Little Red Hen' story.

Maths Mastery

At Milborne St Andrew First School we fully understand the need for high quality environments and meaningful interactions with staff and each other. Our EY ethos is embedded in the Characteristics of Effective Learning and seeks to support young children's development through play.

At Milborne St Andrew First School, we have designed a Maths curriculum, based upon mastery, where children behave as mathematicians. 

There are six key areas of early mathematics learning, which collectively provide a platform for everything children will encounter as they progress through their maths learning at primary school, and beyond:

  • Cardinality and Counting
  • Comparison
  • Composition
  • Pattern
  • Shape and Space
  • Measures.

These areas form the fundamental mathematical basis of a CBeebies series of five-minute animated programmes called Numberblocks. We use these and the Maths No Problem Foundations Programme of Learning to draw out and build on the maths embedded in the stories contained in each episode.

 Our children make and explain Maths decisions on a daily basis across the curriculum and our children see mistakes as ‘stepping stones to learning’ and understand that real learning means not getting everything right.  Being able to talk Mathematics is of extreme importance and teachers facilitate, model, question and support children to develop their skills of articulating their thinking. At Milborne St Andrew First School, the children use ‘Maths Sentence Stems’ to explain and justify their mathematical reasoning.