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St Mary's C of E

School Bideford

Aims, curriculum and characteristics of effective learning

Aims for Early Years Foundation Stage:


  • provide a curriculum which is designed to inspire enthusiasm for learning, to ensure achievement and to support pupil well-being and development;
  • provide a well- planned, carefully- structured and resourced curriculum which puts personal development and Characteristics of Effective Learning at the heart of everything we do;
  • build upon what children know and celebrate achievement;
  • value children’s interests, providing a balance of direct teaching and child-initiated activities;
  • embrace all children, welcoming diversity and encouraging all children to respect others;
  • help children build friendships and learn to co-operate with each other;
  • provide a welcoming environment for all children and parents, which establishes a clear sense of belonging for all children;
  • establish positive relationships with parents and keep parents well informed about the curriculum and their child’s progress;
  • make careful observations in order to support and extend children’s learning appropriately;
  • facilitate learning at every opportunity, using a range of teaching strategies;
  • ensure that children with special educational needs are identified and receive appropriate support

Foundation Stage Curriculum

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the period of education for children from birth to the end of the Reception year. The Foundation Stage Curriculum is based on the recognition that children learn through play and active learning. There are seven areas of learning and development that shape the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Three areas of learning are:

Communication and Language

Physical Development

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

These areas of learning, called the prime areas are particularly crucial in enabling children’s learning, as they reflect the key skills and capabilities all children need to develop and learn effectively.

We also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. These areas are:



Understanding the World

Expressive Arts and Design



 Characteristics of Effective Learning

We support children to develop their Characteristics of Effective Learning as we believe they play a central role in a child's learning and are essential in building an effective learner. We follow children's interests to ensure they are engaged and motivated to enable them to develop their creative and critical thinking. The Characteristics of Effective Learning run through and underpin all seven areas of learning and development. They represent processes rather than outcomes. The characteristics of learning – Playing and Exploring, Active Learning and Creating and Thinking Critically support children to become motivated and effective learners.

Learning through play is a very important part of your child’s development. We plan our environment to ensure that children have the opportunity to experience a wide range of learning. We ensure that we provide resources which allow children to initiate their own learning, whilst adults play and teach alongside them. All children are encouraged to use our outdoor and indoor learning environment.