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Malmesbury Primary School

Brings out the best in everyone

Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (Nursery and Reception)

Our early years setting follows the curriculum as outlined in the EYFS statutory framework.


The EYFS framework includes 7 areas of learning and development that are equally important and inter-connected. Three areas, known as the prime areas, are seen as particularly important for igniting curiosity and enthusiasm for learning as well as for building children’s capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.

The prime areas are:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development


The prime areas are strengthened and applied through 4 specific areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design


Curriculum Intent

At Malmesbury we aim to ensure that our pupils:

  • make consistent and accelerated progress so that they reach the highest possible level of attainment;
  • have high aspirations;
  • become responsible members of the community;
  • become confident lifelong learners.


In the early years we place great emphasis on knowing each child as an individual in order to respond to their arising needs and to instil high expectations. We aim to build secure foundations, in a nurturing and inclusive environment, so that our pupils can be successful in Key Stage One and beyond.

We prioritise the prime areas of learning in the Nursery curriculum and for those children needing this continued focus in Reception.  Our enabling environment and warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration.

As the pupils move into Reception, we invest time and energy into helping pupils set and reflect on their own goals by aiming high and developing a love of reading, writing and number.  This is delivered through a holistic curriculum which is inspirational, relevant and fun.

We promote the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking. We value imagination and creativity and seek to create a sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning through a vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision alongside trips, visits and regular enrichment experiences. Our investment in specialist teachers mean that the children continually receive high quality teaching.


We have designed our curriculum with the particular strengths and needs of the children at Malmesbury in mind. Many of our pupils arrive below expectations for their age: a high proportion are learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) or come from disadvantaged backgrounds. We place a strong focus on celebrating the children’s diverse backgrounds as well as supporting the children to learn in a language rich environment.

Through home visits, we know that many of our children do not have access to large open spaces to play freely and develop physically. At Malmesbury we offer lots of outdoor learning to build the children’s gross motor skills and coordination.

Our curriculum is the cultural capital we know our pupils need so that they can gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. They can only do that if we embed the right habits for learning through the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning – Play and Exploration, Active Learning and Creative and Critical Thinking. The children at Malmesbury learn about these characteristics through animal characters which help them to recognise and talk about their learning.


You can read the latest version of our Early Years Foundation Stage policy under our 'Key Information' tab. 

Curriculum Implementation

Our curriculum intent identifies the year-on-year trends we see in the children joining Malmesbury school. We recognise that each child’s development is unique and therefore our curriculum is adapted to meet the particular needs of individual children or cohorts.

Children are provided with plenty of time to explore a variety of experiences, carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development.

We also follow the guidance published in The Reading Framework: Teaching the Foundations of Literacy (July 2021) to deliver a language rich curriculum.


Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. We use high quality, language rich texts from The Power of Reading as a basis to plan and deliver a stimulating curriculum which builds on the understanding of all children whatever their starting points, matching the needs of our community. Our curriculum is made up of core books and supplementary books. These can be viewed on our annual curriculum overviews which are published on our website.

In addition, there are three story time sessions a day across the early years which help to promote a love of reading from an early age.


Nursery children work on building phonological awareness by:

  • playing games with sounds;
  • exploring rhythm, rhyme and alliteration;
  • blending and segmenting orally.

Reception children follow a structured phonics programme: Read Write Inc. The children receive a daily phonics session with opportunities to reinforce their learning through:

  • adult directed activities;
  • continuous and enhanced provision in the environment.

Children in Reception begin by reading individually and have opportunities for guided reading activities in the summer term.


Language rich environment

The development of the children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development.
Staff interactions with the children are highly valued at Malmesbury. Staff:

  • model and engage in back-and-forth interactions;
  • comment on what the children are interested in or doing, including narrating play;
  • echo back what the children say, adding new vocabulary and modelling the correct use of standard English;
  • sensitively question the children which invites them to elaborate;
  • engage the children actively in stories, non-fiction, rhyme and poems;
  • provide extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts.


Talk Tubs

'Talk tubs' are introduced alongside a new core book or topic. They have relevant objects inside which relate to the intended topic. With appropriate modelling from staff, children ask questions about the items in the tub and explore different outcomes. If they show a particular keen interest in an object inside the box, this may be explored further.


Floor Books        

Floor books are used to plan, record and assess children’s learning. Floor books at Malmesbury are also used to encourage the use of wider vocabulary and to enrich a child’s language and communication skill.


Let’s Talk

At Malmesbury, talk is seen as fundamental to the writing process. Children in the early years are provided with a weekly stimulus to talk about in a guided adult-led session. This might be an object, picture or video usually related to the topic. As the children progress through the early years, mark-making and writing are supported through this process.


Nursery Rhymes

The children at Malmesbury will learn and recite a wide variety of rhymes. In addition, we have selected 10 core nursery rhymes which the children will learn by heart by the end of Nursery and Reception.



Along with the rest of the school, we follow a mastery approach to mathematics: particularly focusing on embedding the different counting principles. Mathematics is incorporated throughout the other areas of learning as well as in the environment. Children are given lots of real life examples of maths in action through story time, songs, routine, objects and manipulatives.

Reception follow the White Rose Maths scheme for adult-led maths sessions.



Nursery and Reception follow yearly curriculum overviews which focus learning around core texts. The topics are designed to provide the children with a broad and balanced curriculum that is rich with a variety of experiences. The topics may alter as we respond to children’s needs, next steps and interests.

Termly objectives are not identified in advance of knowing the children. We recognise that children are unique are do not develop in a fixed way. Medium term and short-term plans are based on recent formative assessments of the children. 

Staff plan activities and experiences for children that enable children to develop and learn effectively. In order to do this, staff working with the youngest children are expected to focus strongly on the 3 prime areas.

Staff also consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care, and use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience. Where a child may have a special educational need or disability, staff consider whether specialist support is required, linking with relevant services from other agencies where appropriate.



Each area of learning and development is implemented through planned, purposeful play, and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities. Staff respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction.

As children grow older, and as their development allows, the balance gradually shifts towards more adult-led activities to help children prepare for more formal learning, ready for year 1.


Curriculum Impact

Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND. We spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning.  This is achieved through:

  • talking to children;
  • looking at their work;
  • observing their learning experiences;
  • analysing data and progress


Our curriculum and its delivery ensure that children make good progress. Children in our early years, on average, arrive with much lower starting points than national.  During their time in our EYFS, children make rapid progress so that we meet the national expectation for GLD at the end of the year.