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St James's Catholic Primary School

St James's Catholic Primary School

‘Put out into the deep’

Early Years

Our Approach

Throughout our Early Years, we teach our Curriculum taking into account the Seven Areas of Learning:


  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language,
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Physical Development
  • Expressive Arts and Design


Our eighth area of Learning is Religious Education.


Each of these areas are taught through exciting and engaging topics. During each area of learning, children will engage with whole class inputs on the carpet with their teacher, small group work with a teacher or learning leader and lots of ‘choosing time’. This is where children access our provision and learn through play and exploration.


Communication and Language

This is a prime area of learning. Children learn how to listen, respond and hold back and forth conversations. This is an integral part of our Curriculum and underpins all areas of learning. We have a language rich environment and teach the children new vocabulary during each lesson.


Personal, Emotional, Social Development

Children will learn how to regulate themselves and how to look after their body. They will learn about feelings and how they can manage these in the right way. They will build up their self-confidence, perseverance and independence. They will build good relationships with their peers and learn to play co-operatively.  



Reading is a priority at St James’s. We facilitate a love of reading for our young children with exciting book corners and by sharing stories every day. We follow the Read Write Inc. phonics scheme which gives your child a fantastic start to their reading and writing journey. The children are given the tools to read and write when they are ready and have the chance to practise and apply these skills in our provision.


Physical Development

The children spend a lot of time in our outdoor learning environment. They enjoy the equipment and play games with their peers. The children also receive two Physical Education lessons a week. One of these is teacher led and one is led by an outside provider. These sessions develop the children’s gross motor skills so that they can negotiate space, move energetically and improve their strength, co-ordination and balance.


The children also develop their fine motor skills during their time at school. They use a wide range of tools such as paintbrushes, scissors and play dough equipment. We set up fine motor activities such as bead threading or mark making in glitter around the classroom so the children can enhance these skills as they play.



We immerse the children in a mastery approach when teaching mathematics. We teach the children about each number in depth, looking at the underlying structures of numbers. We promote high quality talk to encourage mathematical thinking about how numbers are made so that children can begin to reason and solve problems using their acquired mathematical language. Securing a strong number sense is a priority for all children. The children use lots of concrete manipulatives when exploring numbers and shape to expose them to mathematical structures and support their thinking. They use a range of different resources to solve calculations.  


Understanding the World

The children learn about the past and present and get to share lots of their experiences with their peers. We read stories and teach children about different communities, places to live and cultural events. We encourage children to talk about their own history and experiences; all of which are celebrated. The children get the opportunity to talk about different places or countries they have visited and locate them on either a large world map or our globes. We go on lots of nature walks around our environment where the children are encouraged to talk about the natural world around them.




Expressive Arts and Design

We encourage creativity and imagination in our Early Years. Each practitioner takes an active role in developing the role play area in our classroom, which changes weekly, depending on our topic. Here, the children can use their imagination to create their own narratives. We have an art area that is filled with resources such as paper, card, pipe cleaners, paint and junk modelling for children to design their own creations. The children receive a Music lesson from our Music Specialist, Ms Armstrong each week where they get to learn and perform songs.


Enrichment in the Early Years

At St James’s, we aim to make the children’s learning as exciting and engaging as possible. Our young children thrive on learning through play and experience. During each topic, we plan for at least one memorable experience for the children. Throughout the year, we take part in two school trips and have lots of visitors come into the school for various workshops. For example, for our first topic of the year ‘Let’s Be Friends’, the children go for a tour around school and have a visit from firefighters, doctors and dentists.




How is the Early Years Assessed?

The Reception team plan and teach with the Early Learning Goals in mind, which are the set of statutory age related expectations for the end of Reception. Our aim is for all of our children to achieve these goals. Teachers are assessing children throughout each school day whilst interacting and playing with them, having back and forth conversations, completing a small group activity or teaching them something new as a whole class.


Concept Cards

Teachers have Concept Cards for each area of learning. The concepts covered relate to what we teach in Nursery and Reception. When any concepts are not achieved, review tasks and teacher support are put in place to address any misconceptions.