Early Years

At St. Joseph’s, our aims, vision and values are at the core of everything we do and we are guided by our school's Mission Statement. 

Here at St. Joseph’s we challenge and support all our children so that every child has the opportunity to excel and achieve their potential.  As a team, we provide a rich, exciting and diverse curriculum so that each child experiences a varied and stimulating education within a small and homely environment in the very heart of Stockport town centre.

Our aims, vision and values define our teaching and learning, and ensure that we provide an environment which prepares our pupils to be confident, capable, resilient and responsible citizens able to enjoy a healthy life to the full.

Our inclusive school community works in partnership in meeting the responsibility of developing each child in every way – spiritually, emotionally, academically, physically and socially because each child, a unique creation of God and loved by God, deserves this.

Intent – Why do we teach what we teach?

At St. Joseph’s we acknowledge that in the EYFS all children are powerful learners and that every child can make progress in their learning with the right help and deserve to have an equal chance of success.

‘A child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances.’ (DFE 2021)

As part of the Early Years curriculum, we offer a balance of child-initiated and adult-led learning using continuous play and small group activities. This is because it is important to strike a balance between adult-led and child-initiated activities to meet best the children's outcomes. Adults in the class are then able to build on child-initiated activities, to extend further learning opportunities and enable sustained shared thinking to take place. Children then progress and attain across the seven areas of learning. This play-based learning and a safe and stimulating environment helps the child to progress and achieve their full potential because play based learning appeals to children's natural curiosity desire to engage in experiences based on their interests, strengths and developing skills as they make sense of their world around them. We strive to empower the children to take control of their own learning and become motivated, self-confident learners equipped with the skill, knowledge and attitudes ready for the demands of Key Stage One (KS1).

We work in partnership with parents/carers to encourage independent, happy learners who thrive in school and reach their full potential from their various starting points. We understand and follow children’s interests and provide opportunities throughout our EYFS curriculum to support learning, consolidate and deepen knowledge and ensure children meet their next steps.

We believe in providing all children with a safe and stimulating environment that builds on each individual’s wants, needs and interests. We aim to create an environment which supports the children’s learning through play and provide them with an opportunity to work to the best of their ability and have a love for learning. Through the environment we make their learning fun, engaging, suitably challenging and offers children the opportunity to develop their thinking and problem-solving skills.

We prepare children to reach the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) at the end of the Foundation Stage and ensure children make at least good progress from their starting points.

We want our children to be happy, safe, independent, secure, confident and kind individuals so that they will be successful in the future. We want to provide the best possible start for the children to their school life, teaching skills and providing experiences which will ensure their well-being now and success in the future. We support the transition of our children into KS1. The children have visits with their new teacher and teaching assistant and spend time in their new classroom environment. Parents and children complete a one page profile for their new teacher. 

‘Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.’ (Statutory Framework for the EYFS July 2020)

Implementation: How do we teach what we teach?

At St Joseph’s we follow the EYFS published by the Department of Education. It sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5. The framework has recently been reviewed and the new reforms will be in place from September 2021. Within the Foundation Stage we follow the EYFS Principles, which guide the work of the staff. These are grouped into four themes and are at the core of our commitment to providing quality care and education at St Joseph’s:

  • Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
  • Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
  • Children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
  • Children develop and learn at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early year’s provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Our curriculum encompasses seven areas of learning and development. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships, and thriving. These are called the prime areas:

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social, and Emotional development

Four areas help children to strengthen and apply the prime areas. These are called the specific areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

Throughout their time in the EYFS the children partake in a curriculum which is designed in a sequential way to ensure progress towards the ELGs. At St Joseph’s we use Development Matters, a non-statutory curriculum guidance for the EYFS, to deliver the EYFS learning and development requirements.

Our curriculum incorporates learning through play, learning by adults modelling, by observing each other and through guided learning and direct teaching. It is also important to highlight that our plans are flexible to allow us to respond quickly to children’s new interests and/or needs. Weaving throughout the EYFS curriculum are three Characteristics of Effective Learning (COEL).

  • 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

These elements underpin how we reflect on each child’s development and adjust our practice accordingly. Supporting children in their individual learning behaviour and observing the context of children’s play is essential. Through the COELs the children develop knowledge and skills that are transferable and promote their spiritual, moral and cultural development. This approach, coupled with enriched experiences enables all children to develop a rigorous understanding that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. 

‘What children learn is important, but how children learn is even more important if they are to become learners in today’s society.’

Our EYFS is a welcoming, engaging and nurturing environment. We offer continuous provision in all the areas of learning to enable our children to thrive, explore and develop with a good balance of child and adult initiated learning opportunities.?The teaching and learning is carefully planned to stimulate children’s development. The EYFS timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching sessions in Maths, Phonics and English with regular circle time and Prayer and Liturgy to focus on PSED and RE.  These sessions are followed by group activities where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual needs. 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.

The 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 EYFS 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. Our work across the curriculum is built around topic areas which change each half term. Topics are linked to the seven areas of learning and focus on the children’s interests. Each topic is linked to stories to promote the children’s speaking and listening skills alongside a love for reading.

Supporting children’s communication and language skills is a high priority in our EYFS environment to enable them to become confident talkers. We recognise the interaction between adults and children is key and we encourage the children to engage in back and forth conversations encouraging the use of new vocabulary. Recognising when children are ‘in their element’ through listening, respecting their thoughts and ideas and sharing the joys of their discoveries is an important aspect of this. We also value developing the children’s gross and fine motor skills to support their early writing development. We provide lots of provision to support gross and fine motor skills which will support their early writing skills.

We follow our school RE scheme, “The Way, The Truth and the Life” in which children learn about and explore the Christian faith. It also gives opportunities for children to learn about other major world faiths.

We use White Rose Maths in EYFS with an emphasis on studying key skills of number, and numerical patterns 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.

Impact: How do we know what pupils have learnt?

Through providing a challenging and enjoyable curriculum we want the children to be equipped with the confidence, motivation and skills to undertake new life experiences now and in the future. Teachers and children have high expectations in an atmosphere where children confidently strive to reach their full potential.

Before the children start St. Joseph’s in September 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, 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. The children all participate in the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA).

We strive to ensure that all of our children make good or better progress during their time in the EYFS. Formative / summative assessments are used throughout the year to inform next steps in learning and to track children’s progress against national expectations and ensure that all children make value added progress. At the end of the EYFS, staff complete the EYFS profile for each child. Children who achieve the expected standard within the Early Learning Goals have the knowledge and skills needed to continue to maintain the good progress they have made in KS1 and beyond. We understand that when assessing children against the 17 Early Learning Goals, there will be many children who are awarded the same level but may be working at differing levels within this range.

'Children are powerful learners. Every child can make progress in their learning with the right help.' (Development Matters September 2020)

As children progress across the EYFS, they develop a deep knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the seven areas of learning. The EYFS at St. Joseph’s extends children’s interest and knowledge beyond their immediate experiences. Children make relevant links from their learning to other curriculum subjects and leave the EYFS as motivated learners ready for the curriculum challenges for KS1. Effective communication between the EYFS and KS1 staff is therefore crucial to achieve an effective transition for children and to plan accordingly for the next stage of their learning journey.




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Where we are

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School
Etchells Street, Stockport SK1 1EF
0161 480 5029

Who we are

Here at St. Joseph's we do our best to challenge and support all our children so that every child has the opportunity to excel and achieve their potential.

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