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Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) 

Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.  (EYFS Framework September 2021)

An introduction for parents to the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Sunningdale Pre-School works within the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS). The newly reformed framework comes into effect from September 2021. 


The EYFS seeks to provide:

• quality and consistency in all early years settings, so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind

• a secure foundation through planning for the learning and development of each individual child, and assessing and reviewing what they have learned regularly

• partnership working between practitioners and with parents and/or carers

• equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported


The EYFS specifies requirements for learning and development and for safeguarding children and promoting their welfare.

The learning and development requirements cover:

• the areas of learning and development which must shape activities and experiences (educational programmes) for children in all early years settings

• the early learning goals that providers must help children work towards (the knowledge, skills and understanding children should have at the end of the academic year in which they turn five)

• assessment arrangements for measuring progress (and requirements for reporting to parents and/or carers)

The safeguarding and welfare requirements cover the steps that providers must take to keep children safe and promote their welfare.

There are 4 Overarching principles

Four guiding principles should shape practice in early years settings. These are:

• 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.

• importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).


The learning and development requirements are informed by the best available evidence on how children learn and reflect the broad range of skills, knowledge and attitudes children need as foundations for good future progress. Sunningdale Pre-School will guide the development of children’s capabilities with a view to ensuring that children in their care to become school ready and to be able to complete the EYFS ready to benefit fully from the opportunities ahead of them.

The EYFS learning and development requirements comprise:

• the seven areas of learning and development and the educational programmes (described below)

• the early learning goals, which summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young children should have gained by the end of the reception year

• the assessment requirements (when and how practitioners must assess children’s achievements, and when and how they should discuss children’s progress with parents and/or carers)

Sunningdale Pre-School uses the Development Matters (DM), a non-statutory curriculum guidance for the EYFS, to provide a setting which is rich in opportunities for all children to achieve.  The DM supports Pre-School in our delivery of the EYFS learning and development requirements.

Ofsted (Office for standards in education) is the government department responsible for monitoring early years settings and ensuring that they both follow the EYFS guidance and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care. Ofsted regulates and inspects every setting in England that provides care for children up to the age of eighteen and following inspection will indicate whether that setting is outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate. Sunningdale Pre-School achieved an ‘outstanding’ rating at its last inspection (Oct 2018), the report of which can be found on the Ofsted website.  See the report here....

Three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. These are the prime areas:

• communication and language

• physical development

• personal, social and emotional development

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

• literacy

• mathematics

• understanding the world

• expressive arts and design

Your child’s learning and the role of their key carer: 

When a child first starts at the Pre-School they will be allocated a key carer. This is a member of staff who is responsible for monitoring a child’s progress, planning activities to support their progress within all aspects of the EYFS and developing a relationship with the child’s parents/carers to support the child. Initially the key carer will focus on the prime areas when observing the child and support the child to reach goals within these areas such as understanding turn taking, using the toilet and dressing independently or making choices about what they want to play with.  Through observations these will give a picture of how your child is learning, their interests and any intervention that may be needed.  The Progress Check will be shared with you after your child's first half a term. Gradually the areas will be expanded to include literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design.

In February 2021 we introduced 'Planning in the Moment'.  This enables children to access all resources and activities, to play with as they wish and at their level.  Our experienced team joins a child's play if and when they see an appropriate teaching moment, being able to extend the child's learning.

Each key carer maintains a file for each key child. This is unique to the key carer, every person has different ways of recording and presenting the information they gather. However the aim of the file is to celebrate the child’s achievements within the learning and development areas. This file will be available for parents to review regularly and to contribute to. When the child makes the transition from the Pre-School to primary school, the file will go home with the child to be treasured. The child’s key carer will provide a report that will be sent to the child’s new school which details the child’s learning and development to support the child’s new teacher and smooth the transition into school. This is also an important focus of the EYFS, supporting every child’s transition into and onwards from Pre-School, as well other transitions that may occur during their time when at Sunningdale Pre-School, such as moving house or a new sibling.

Sunningdale Pre-School takes its responsibility to support children’s transitions very seriously from settling in visits and the key carer system when a child joins Pre-School, through to developing relationships with the schools children move into and supporting the child with visits to their future school. Many of the Pre-School children move to the local primary school; however Sunningdale Pre-School has developed relationships with many schools in the surrounding areas, and supports each and every child wherever they move onto.

It is important to remember that each child is unique; their life experiences vary dramatically and for this reason, the support key carers provide to their key children is tailored to each individual child’s needs and developmental stage. It is not based on their age or ‘where they should be at’.

Sunningdale Pre-School promotes the British Fundamental Values and Cultural Capital and these are at the heart of all of our teaching.  At every opportunity we will celebrate and learn about an event, festival, culture or experience. We look to all our families to share your experiences and knowledge.  We are continually learning about families experiences, festivals, cultures religions etc; please do speak to a member of staff as we would welcome you to share your experience and knowledge with us all.

Meetings will be held between the child’s parents and the key carer throughout the child’s time at the setting in order to support the child’s development and for the key carer to best utilise the expert knowledge every parent has about their own child. A meeting will normally be offered once your child has completed their first half term in order for parents and key carer to catch up and discuss how the child has settled in as well as their development in the above areas. Each child’s key file will also be sent home at least once every term to allow parents to view the file in detail and make comments regarding the child’s development. Parents are invited to add to their child’s file at any time, such as through photographs taken outside of Pre-School that demonstrate new development and achievements. Although there are several meetings scheduled between parents and carers throughout the child’s time at the setting, parents are encouraged to meet with their child’s key carer at any point if they have concerns about their child’s development, information that needs to be shared or just to catch up. This may be a quick discussion at pick up or drop off, or if longer is required, by arrangement at a time convenient to both parent and key carer.

Below is a brief guide to how key carers are supporting children in each learning and development area:

Learning area:

Communication and language - 

Share songs, stories and rhymes from all cultures, plan play activities and provide resources which encourage young children to engage in symbolic play, set up shared experiences that children can reflect upon such as a cooking activity.

Physical development -

Provide a range of large play equipment that can be used in different ways, plan activities that involve moving and stopping, provide time and space to enjoy energetic play daily.  Gross motor skills are paramount to children learning to write!  Provide play resources including small world toys, construction sets, threading, allow children to pour their own drinks, serve their own food, choose a story.

Personal, Social & Emotional 

Plan and support activities that support collaboration, choose books, puppets and dolls that help children explore their ideas about friends and friendship, ensure children have opportunities to get to know everyone in the group, provide experiences and activities that are challenging yet achievable.


Provide some simple poetry, song, fiction and non-fiction books, create an environment rich in print where children can learn about words, draw attention to marks, signs and symbols in the environment and what they mean, write down things that children say to support their understanding that what they say can be written down and then read and understood by someone else, provide resources for children to mark make indoors and outdoors; this could be using a stick in the mud, or a paint brush and bucket of water.


Provide games and equipment that offer children opportunities for counting, give children a reason to count, count the stairs as they walk up them, provide interesting collections of things for children to count, order and label, provide a range of number resources, measure for a purpose, organise the environment to encourage shape matching, plan opportunities for children to compare, describe shapes, measures and distance.

Understanding the world

Share photographs of children’s families, friends and pets, support children’s understanding of difference and empathy using props, plan extra time for helping children in transition, provide ways of preserving memories of special events, help children to learn positive attitudes and challenge negative attitudes and stereotypes.

Expressive arts and design

Choose unusual or interesting materials and resources that inspire exploration, introduce children to a wide range of music, painting and sculpture, extend children’s experience and expand their imagination through the provision of pictures, paintings, music, poems, dance and story, provide opportunities indoors and outdoors and support the different interests of children.

The information above demonstrates how children’s fun and play is so crucial to their learning and development.  For children to learn they need to be engaged in what they are doing, it needs to be there choice.  Adults are there to extend their learning, guide, suggest and support when needed. 


This document cannot cover every aspect of the Early Years Foundation Stage as it is a large and comprehensive piece of guidance, however further information as well as the official guidance used by the Sunningdale Pre-School can be found on the Department for Education website.

Sunningdale Pre-School recognises the importance of the parent’s role in their children’s development and the positive contribution parents can make both to their own children’s education and the Pre-School. For more information please read the Pre-School’s open door policy. Of course staff at the Pre-School will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the early years foundation stage and your child’s development.

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