Dundonald Primary School

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

At Dundonald, we have high academic ambition for all children. Our curriculum is designed to provide rich, varied, and imaginative experiences that intends to enthuse, engage and motivate children to learn and achieve highly.

Children benefit from meaningful learning experiences across all seven areas of the Early Years curriculum, enabling them to make links in their learning and to the wider world. A topic-based curriculum design allows for this cross curricular learning with topics carefully chosen to reflect the interest of the children.

There is a sharp focus on the prime areas of learning, including communication and language. A language rich environment and core texts are used as a key stimulus for learning which develops vocabulary and language skills for all children. Talk For Writing and Power of Reading is used regularly to immerse children in language and promote a love of reading and stories.



The teaching of phonics has a high priority in the Early Years.  We follow the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ as our systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme. This ensures that phonics is taught systematically in order for children to build their knowledge and skills effectively.  Children are taught through daily discrete phonics lessons as well as having regular opportunities to explore phonic activities within the learning environment. 

Our phonics programme in the Early Years teaches through the following stages:

  • Foundations for Phonics (Taught in Nursery)
  • Phase 2 (Begin teaching in Reception Autumn 1)
  • Phase 3 (Begin teaching in Reception Spring 1)
  • Phase 4 (Begin teaching in Reception Summer 1)

 Programme Overview

Programme Overview for Reception

Further guidance for parents/carers can be found on the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds website.

Reading practice sessions

Children in Reception apply their phonics knowledge by using fully matched decodable Collins Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised books.

These sessions:

  • are taught by fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
  • are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week

Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • decoding
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text

Home reading

The children then take the same book home after their third reading practice session to ensure success is shared with their families. In Reception these sessions start in Week 4 of the autumn term. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.

Sharing books also go home for parents/carers to share and read to their children

The implementation of our Early Years curriculum and care practices in place promote and support children’s emotional security and character development. The commitment to holistic development and clear focus on the prime areas of learning enables children to develop social and emotionally, providing and strong foundation for learning later on in their schooling.

As a Rights Respecting School our ethos and approach to behaviour embeds a culture of kindness with children’s emotional security and self-confidence at the centre. The use of ‘No Outsiders’ and explicit teaching of equality means children feel valued, included and emotionally secure.  

EYFS Curriculum 

The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2021) seeks to provide a set of common principles and commitments to support practioners in delivering quality early education and childcare experiences to all children.

The framework is for all Ofsted registered early years providers in all settings, including nurseries, childminders, pre-schools and Reception.

This statutory framework was reviewed and revised for September 2021 and were made to:

  • improve outcomes at stage 5, particularly in early language and literacy;
  • reduce workload such as unnecessary paperwork, so more time can be spend with the children in care.

At Dundonald Primary School the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage is implemented alongside the use of Development Matters (a non-statutory curriculum guidance for EYFS).

 The Early Years curriculum is centred on three prime areas of learning:

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

Schools must also support children's learning across the specific areas:

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

Educational activities relate to these seven areas which address children's physical, cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional development. 

Please see our Early Years Foundation Stage Policy for more information about our teaching and assessment in Dundonald Early Years.

You can find a link to our overall curriculum on the Our Learning -> Curriculum Maps page and  subject-specific EYFS Curriculums via the subject pages on the  Our Learning -> Curriculum menu

Learning Through Play

Dundonald believes in the importance of Learning Through Play in the early years.   The slides for the Learning Through Play Parent/Carer Workshop are here:  Learning Through Play