St Mary's Pre-School

At St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, children join our Pre-School after they have reached their third birthday. In partnership with parents and carers, we enable the children to begin the process of becoming active learners for life.

Early childhood is the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. At St. Mary's Little People we greatly value the important role that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) plays in laying secure foundations for future learning and development.

Learning in the EYFS

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 ; and
  • importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn in different ways and 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.

Fun in our Forest Area

Children learn best by feeling secure, valued and confident and also through quality play. The learning experiences we provide are based on our assessment of each child's stage of development and then matched with the Educational Programmes, Development Matters and Early Learning Goals (which summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young children should have gained by the end of the Reception year) set out by the DfE.

The EYFS Framework explains how and what children will be learning. Children will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through seven areas of learning and development.

Children should mostly develop the three prime areas first. These are:

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

These prime areas are those most essential for children’s healthy development and future learning. As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in four specific areas. These are:

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

These seven areas are used to plan children’s learning and adult led focused activities. Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.

Throughout EYFS we plan to ensure our youngest children receive high quality learning experiences that build upon existing knowledge, understanding and skills. We aim to ensure children receive rich and stimulating learning opportunities that support learning and development.

At St. Mary’s Pre-School, when we plan and guide children’s activities, we reflect on the different ways in which children learn. The three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:

  • playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
  • active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
  • creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

Taken from Statutory Framework for the EYFS, January 2024.


Religious Education, Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development

St Mary’s Pre-School is part of St Mary’s Catholic Primary school, and our faith is at the heart of all we do. It is embedded in our curriculum and is implicit in all areas of the curriculum and pre-school life. We use the diocesan scheme, 'Learning and Growing as People of God' and the associated assessment procedures.

Throughout our practice and provision our Catholic vision also permeates our curriculum as we work, learn and grow together guided by Jesus' teachings. Throughout our Catholic curriculum, children develop a knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith, gospel values and good citizenship.

As our children grow and learn together in a faith school we aim to nurture and encourage them to become adults who can transform our world into a more just and loving society. Children are encouraged to become caring, responsible and compassionate individuals.

Daily Routine

In Pre-School, children have focused adult-led activities during every session, as well as access to continuous and enhanced resources and aid their child-led play in the learning environment. Children are welcomed at the beginning of each day/session by staff, ensuring a smooth transition from parents and into pre-school.  


Outdoor Learning Environment

When children are not in a focused learning session they are actively engaged in exploration time. During exploration time children are encouraged to engage in a wide range of high quality learning experiences both indoors and outdoors. Children are encouraged to move around the learning environments independently choosing different activities. Staff support and facilitate children’s learning and development by encouraging children to engage in active learning through purposeful play.

Each day children have "snack social time" where we enjoy a snack and boost our conversation skills. 

Children also take part in "sqwiggle wiggle" as part of the weekly routine. This is a kinaesthetic approach to stimulate early writing. Children use movement with music to develop their motor skills in preparation for writing.
There is a focus story each week: this is hugely focused upon throughout our week and the  exploration areas are mainly  linked to the story. 
We have exploration stations that enhance the 7 areas of learning. And the children access these independently throughout the day. This assists their independence and ensures skills become embedded.
We have added mindfulness and yoga into our weekly routine. And are using lots of ways to explore our emotions  this term. 

Parents as Partners

We recognise that parents are children’s first and most enduring educators.

At St. Mary’s Pre-School parents and practitioners work together and the results have a positive impact on children’s development and learning. Positive parental partnerships are crucial for providing the most effective teaching and learning strategies. Equally they are vital for personalising learning opportunities effectively.

We aim to develop positive relationships with parents that enable us to share information about children's interests and learning. This information is used to personalise learning opportunities and provide continuity and progression. We work together and support learning through warm and trusting relationships. The implications of this ensure knowledgeable adults support children’s learning more effectively.

We develop positive parental partnerships that support learning when a child accesses our provision through:

  • Talking to parents about their child before their child starts in our school;
  • The children have the opportunity to spend time with their teacher and support staff before starting our setting.
  • We have a staggered transition into Pre-School. This ensures the needs of our children are met.
  • We have a staggered transition into Reception. Transition is flexible and we work together with parents to make transition as smooth as possible for each individual child.
  • Inviting all parents to a stay and play session and a parent meeting.

We continue to build and maintain positive parental relationships through:

  • Offering parents regular daily opportunities to talk.
  • Encouraging parents to discuss any worries or concerns.
  • Parent Workshops.
  • Involving parents in the curriculum.
  • Parent noticeboard.
  • Story mornings.
  • Newsletters/Questionnaires.
  • Bilingual Support.

All staff involved with the EYFS aim to develop good relationships with all children, interacting positively with them and taking time to listen and value responses and contributions.

Emmaus CMAC
St Mary's Catholic Primary School Ofsted
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