Church Cowley St James Church of England Primary School

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EYFS Curriculum

Our Early Years comprises the beautiful Wilderness Nursery, set in the purpose-built building in the leafy grounds beside our forest school, and the spacious Reception classes inside the main building.

Within our Wilderness Nursery (3 to 4-year-olds), children are split into two mixed-age groups - Oak and Elm. Our two Reception classes (4 to 5-year-olds) are Oriel and Balliol. All our classes welcome children of various backgrounds, we pride ourselves on celebrating a range of cultures, faiths and languages.  


Our focus in EYFS is on providing all children with the best possible start to their school life at CCSJ. We recognise and place great value on each child being unique and strive to help all children learn and develop to their full potential – regardless of their backgrounds.  

Our aim in the EYFS is to build solid foundations and resilience so that the children can grow to become successful life-long learners and members of society. We look to provide rich, hands-on learning experiences so that all children can gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. We support them in developing effective learning styles through the Characteristics of Effective Learning – Play and Exploration, Active Learning and Creative and Critical Thinking.  

In Nursery, we prioritise the prime areas of learning: Communication & Language, Personal, Social & Emotional Development and Physical Development. Once children have developed these areas, they can focus on the specific areas: Literacy, Maths, Knowledge & Understanding of the World and Expressive Arts. We recognise that the Prime areas underpin every aspect of learning within the EYFS and the rest of school life and therefore place huge importance on it within our EYFS curriculum. 

Through enabling environments, positive relationships and a focus on the unique child, we are confident that the children will learn well and thrive at CCSJ. High-quality adult interactions and closely following children’s interests are fundamental in supporting quality learning experiences. Within our EYFS, we follow a cycle of assessing a child’s next steps, designing our environment to support those next steps and using high-quality adult interactions to ensure a child succeeds. Through this ongoing cycle we ensure each child makes good progress in our EYFS.  

We intend:  

  • To work in partnership with parents and carers to encourage independent, happy learners who thrive in school and reach their full potential from their various starting points. 
  • To 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.  
  • To create an indoor and outdoor environment which supports learning.  
  • To prepare children to achieve a Good Level of Development (GLD) and the Early Learning goals at the Foundation Stage's end and ensure they make at least good progress from their starting points.  
  • To support the transition into KS1. 


Both our Wilderness Nursery and Reception classes use the indoor and outdoor space effectively and ensure that children are exposed to rich learning experiences daily. Through use of our planned curriculum activities, following the children’s interests and identifying and supporting their next steps, every day, the children go home having had a day filled with rich learning. Our quality curriculum within the EYFS is driven through reading and high-quality texts, which expose the children to a wealth of literature during their EYFS experience at CCSJ – including Author Studies such as Eric Carle and Julia Donaldson. 

The provision within the setting delivers challenging experiences which support the development of all children. Wilderness Nursery is set up as two groups: Elm and Oak; this set-up allows us to run parallel groups – one inside, one outside and ensures that children are exposed to a range of learning opportunities within a range of spaces, it enables them to step outside of their comfort zone, and it gives the children a chance to take part in activities that they may not initially have shown interest in. Children in our Wilderness Nursery participate in weekly music sessions led by our Music specialist teacher to support their PSED, C&L and EAD. Our Reception children also have weekly music sessions with our music specialist teacher and weekly forest school and PE sessions led by our Forest school leader and Sports coach. This ensures all children in our EYFS are exposed to a wealth of extra curriculum on top of their usual high-quality experiences within their classes. 

Our provision is set up carefully to ensure that all children are actively engaged in their learning; we ensure that the environment is set up to inspire and challenge a range of children’s interests. Although both Elm and Oak are mixed academic year groups, for group times, the children are mixed into their academic years to ensure the group time is pitched to the right level and that all children are supported and challenged with their learning.  

Our nursery day is structured around providing extensive opportunities for children to develop their learning and skills in Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Communication and Language. The provision is designed in a cross-curricular manner which supports holistic learning and development including understanding the world and expressive art and design, and promotes sustained thinking and active learning. Our planning is child-led, with our experienced staff ensuring that our children's next steps and individual stages of development are incorporated – capturing evidence using Tapestry.  By implementing our planning, assessing, and observation cycle in this way, we can ensure that the children have ownership over their environment and learning. 

Our inclusive approach to curriculum delivery ensures that all children can fully participate and learn alongside one another. It also enables our EYFS practitioners to support the children's learning by identifying their zone of proximal development and scaffolding their learning. 


The EYFS curriculum is centred on the needs of the children, including disadvantaged children and those with SEND or EAL. All children are observed, and their learning is evaluated via talking to children, looking at their achievements, observing their learning experiences and analysing data and progress by age, gender, and group. Every member of staff uses ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress.  

We look at the children’s attainment and progress formatively to inform planning and the daily provision for the children but also on a termly level to ensure that groups and individuals are further supported/ challenged.   Evidence of children’s learning, including observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents, are recorded on Tapestry. 

Our curriculum and its delivery ensure that children make good progress. During their time in our EYFS, children progress towards their age-related expectations before transitioning.  Our high standards of progress and achievement are driven by an enriched curriculum, enabling environment, and rigorous assessment processes.  

When you come into our EYFS at CCSJ, you will see the following: 

  • A high-quality planned provision with links to our curriculum topic, the children’s interests and scaffolded learning based on the next steps. 
  • Excellent experiences such as weekly Forest School and PE for our Reception children and weekly music lessons across our EYFS 
  • Happy, kind children actively involved in their learning show strong characteristics of effective learning. 
  • Teaching staff who are actively involved in scaffolding the children’s learning and assessing their next steps. 
  • Quality observations of the children are recorded on Tapestry for the parents to respond to. 
  • Good links with parents and staff who are supportive of each child’s individual home life.