Foundation Stage/Reception

Early Years Foundation Stage

At Willow Primary School, we understand that children develop rapidly during the early years – physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially and we therefore plan a provision that extends their knowledge, skills, understanding and confidence.

We plan a relevant curriculum that ensures that the early years’ experience builds on what children already know and can do which encourages a positive attitude and disposition to learning.

Within the school day there are opportunities for children to engage in activities planned by adults and also those that they plan or initiate themselves. There are times throughout the week where the children learn in a large group, small group or individually depending on the needs of the children.

Children do not make a distinction between ‘play’  and ‘work’ and neither do our practitioners ensuring that children have time to become engrossed, work in depth and complete activities. The children are exposed to rich and stimulating experiences inside and outside within which children can explore experiment, plan and make decisions for themselves enabling them to learn and develop. 

Teachers and Teaching assistants constantly assess where the children are and plan the next steps for each individual child to ensure that the child develops and progresses across all areas of the Early Years.

Please contact us if we can be of further assistance via the

Changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework from September 2021

The Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework is divided into 7 areas of Learning. These areas are used to plan for learning throughout the year to ensure in-depth coverage whilst responding to the needs and interests of the individual pupil. In Reception we have built a curriculum which provides an engaging start to your child’s education and prepares them to succeed as their learning continues enabling them to reach their full potential.

Prime Areas of Learning

Communication and Language:

Listening, Attention and Understanding

ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Listen attentively and respond to what they hear with relevant questions, comments and actions when being read to and during whole class discussions and small group interactions; 
  • Make comments about what they have heard and ask questions to clarify their understanding; 
  • Hold conversation when engaged in back-and-forth exchanges with their teacher and peers.

ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Participate in small group, class and one-to-one discussions, offering their own ideas, using recently introduced vocabulary;
  • Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate; 
  • Express their ideas and feelings about their experiences using full sentences, including use of past, present and future tenses and making use of conjunctions, with modelling and support from their teacher.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development:


ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Show an understanding of their own feelings and those of others, and begin to regulate their behaviour accordingly; 
  • Set and work towards simple goals, being able to wait for what they want and control their immediate impulses when appropriate; 
  • Give focused attention to what the teacher says, responding appropriately even when engaged in activity, and show an ability to follow instructions involving several ideas or actions.

Managing Self
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will:

  • Be confident to try new activities and show independence, resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge; - Explain the reasons for rules, know right from wrong and try to behave accordingly;
  • Manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs, including dressing, going to the toilet and understanding the importance of healthy food choices.

Building Relationships
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will:

  • Work and play cooperatively and take turns with others; 
  • Form positive attachments to adults and friendships with peers;
  • Show sensitivity to their own and to others’ needs.

Physical Development:

Gross Motor Skills
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Negotiate space and obstacles safely, with consideration for themselves and others; 
  • Demonstrate strength, balance and coordination when playing; 
  • Move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping, skipping and climbing. 

Fine Motor Skills
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Hold a pencil effectively in preparation for fluent writing
  • Using the tripod grip in almost all cases;
  • Use a range of small tools, including scissors, paint brushes and cutlery; 
  • Begin to show accuracy and care when drawing.

Specific Areas of Learning


ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary; 
  • Anticipate – where appropriate – key events in stories; 
  • Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role-play.

Word Reading
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will:

  • Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs;
  • Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending;
  • Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.

ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed; 
  • Spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters; 
  • Write simple phrases and sentences that can be read by others.


ELG - Children at the expected level of development will:

  • Have a deep understanding of number to 10, including the composition of each number; 
  • Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5; 
  • Automatically recall (without reference to rhymes, counting or other aids) number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some number bonds to 10, including double facts.

Numerical Pattern
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Verbally count beyond 20, recognising the pattern of the counting system; - Compare quantities up to 10 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity; 
  • Explore and represent patterns within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds, double facts and how quantities can be distributed equally.

Understanding the World

Past and Present
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society; 
  • Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class;
  • Understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class and storytelling.

People Culture and Communities
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps; 
  • Know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class; 
  • Explain some similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries, drawing on knowledge from stories, non-fiction texts and – when appropriate – maps.

The Natural World
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Explore the natural world around them, making observations and drawing pictures of animals and plants; 
  • Know some similarities and differences between the natural world around them and contrasting environments, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class; 
  • Understand some important processes and changes in the natural world around them, including the seasons and changing states of matter.

Expressive Art and Design

Creating with Materials
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will: 

  • Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function; 
  • Share their creations, explaining the process they have used; 
  • Make use of props and materials when role playing characters in narratives and stories.

Being Imaginative and Expressive
ELG - Children at the expected level of development will:

  • Invent, adapt and recount narratives and stories with peers and their teacher;
  • Sing a range of well-known nursery rhymes and songs;
  • Perform songs, rhymes, poems and stories with others, and – when appropriate try to move in time with music.

How we learn

Practical activities and learning through exploration and play is central to our approach and we provide opportunities for children to develop their learning through the provision we provide both in the classrooms and outdoors.

Staff introduce and model learning and activities which the children then have lots of opportunity to access and develop both individually and collaboratively following their own interests and fascinations. Staff will then observe, assess and extend learning opportunities. Children are encouraged to plan, evaluate and celebrate their learning.

Our School Day

Reception Timetable

9.00am - 9.10am - Register and visual timetables
9.10am - 9.40am - Phonics
9.40am - 10.30am - Extending learning through play. (To include exercise and snack break).
10.30am - 11.40am - To include Literacy/ Topic input and Extending learning through play.
11.40am - 12.00pm - Reading/ Story scribing/ sharing/News-round
12.00pm - 1.00pm - Lunch Time
1.00pm - 1.10pm - Register and sharing.
1.10pm - 2.40pm - Maths and Extending learning through play.
2.40pm -3.00pm - Story time and home preparation
3.00pm - 3.15pm - Groups leave school

Learning Superpowers in Reception

During their time in Reception it is very important to us that children develop positive behaviours for learning which they will use throughout their education, and their lives. We encourage this by building ‘Learning Superpowers’ following the example of Willow Primary’s Learning Superheroes.

In Reception we use doll versions of the superheroes to support the understanding of the Learning Superpowers and have introduced first names for the characters so that they are accessible and appealing to our children:  Ivan Investigator, Cora Collaboration, Eva Evaluation and Ricky Resilient.

Class Mascots

Our class mascots are William and Spike and they help to introduce us to life at Willow Primary. Over the course of the year parents and carers will get to meet our mascots when each child has a turn to take care of their class mascot for the weekend.

We love Reading!

In Reception at Willow, like the rest of the school, reading is at the heart of our teaching and we encourage a love of reading and books from the moment your child enters our school. This includes talking about books, exploring print in the environment and sharing books and reading. Each topic investigates an author and includes key texts. Children will also take part in many reading events during their time at Willow. These will include mixed year group peer reading and reading opportunities in the community as well as opportunities to celebrate and encourage reading at home.

Phonics is taught each day in a discreet session. In Reception at Willow, we teach children to read using the Ruth Miskin literacy programme, Read Write Inc. (RWI). Children are initially taught Set 1 sounds, how to orally blend these sounds and how to read words containing these simple sounds. Once children can read words containing in taught sounds, they start to read RWI Storybooks which match their phonic knowledge.

RWI supports children in developing both their reading and writing and these skills are developed further during Literacy sessions which usually draw from topic, children’s interests and current events.

Learning Together

We value the role parents play in children’s learning and encourage parents to be involved throughout the year. Current learning experiences are communicated through Tapestry. We also welcome your observations and contributions of home learning, achievements and interests which are an important part of your child’s progress as well as helping us to know and understand your child and their interests. 

These can be shared with us through Tapestry, at parent’s evenings and informal chats throughout the year.

End of Year Report

At the end of Reception, parents will receive a written report for their child which includes information on their child’s progress towards Early Learning Goals (ELGs) in each of the areas of learning.  It also contains a description of their Characteristics of Effective Learning.

Characteristics of Effective Learning

Playing and Exploring - Engagement
Finding out and exploring, playing with what they know, being willing to have a go.

Active Learning - Motivation
Being involved and concentrating, keeping on trying, enjoying achieving what they set out to do.

Creating and Thinking Critically - Thinking
Having their own ideas, making links, choosing ways to do things.

What to expect in the Early Foundation Stage

Click the link for A Guide for Parents

More information can be found on the 'Starting Big School' page in Parent Information.