Learning in the Early Years at St. Adrian’s

The education for children at St. Adrian’s is based on the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ framework. These are government guidelines that set out the curriculum delivered to each child, from birth until the end of the Reception class. The framework is organised into the seven areas of learning.  Our first priority is to ensure children are happy, settled and ready to learn.

You can access the Early Years Foundation Stage framework here.

In the stimulating and caring environment at St. Adrian’s, children learn to feel confident and able to learn through enjoyable and challenging play.

Play is a very important part of growing up. From birth to five years old, children grow, develop and learn rapidly. They choose their friends and develop their own preferred ways of learning. This involves finding out the answers to questions, developing the confidence to ‘have a go’ and learning new skills, as well as consolidating and extending what has already been discovered.

When children start school, they have already learnt a lot from parents at home and in pre-school. We want to build on what children already know and can do, continually taking them to the next stage.

Children learn many new skills from being involved in purposeful, structured play, both indoors and outdoors. Whilst in the Foundation Stage, children spend periods of time involved in activities planned by an adult and periods of time doing activities they have chosen themselves.

This mixture of activities enables children to build up important relationships with other children. It also allows them to use their own initiative and develop problem-solving skills, vital as they go further up the school.

The Learning Environment 

The indoor and outdoor ‘classrooms’ are arranged to give children plenty of space to move around, to work individually and in groups, large and small. 

Resources are well organised and labelled so that children know where to find what they need and can be independent in their play (and tidying!). This means that adults can spend more time joining in with children’s learning. 

Through this supported play, children can explore, develop and use their curiosity and imagination to help them make sense of the world in a secure environment. They learn skills, build up ideas and concepts, think creatively and imaginatively and communicate with others as they investigate and solve problems. 

Let’s find out more about the areas of learning

Each of the following learning areas have early learning goals. Individualized learning and care enhances the development of every child to help them work towards the early learning goals and give them the best possible start in life. 

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Children’s personal, social and emotional development is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Nursery and Reception classes provide a secure environment for children to develop as confident individuals. Opportunities are provided for each child to become a valued member of a group and community so that confidence and self-esteem are promoted. Children are encouraged to work and play cooperatively and establish effective relationships with other children and adults. They have many opportunities to demonstrate their independence and seek help where needed, developing an understanding of what is right, what is wrong and why. The other six areas of learning are underpinned by secure personal, social and emotional development.

Communication and Language

We provide a stimulating environment in which the children can listen and respond to stories, non-fiction writing, songs, nursery rhymes and poems and take part in role-play with confidence. The children love to discuss the text, retell stories through small world activities and make up stories of their own. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the school day in a language rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners help to build children’s language acquisition.

Physical Development 

Physical development in the Foundation Stage at St. Adrian’s is about providing opportunities for children to develop and improve their skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement both indoors and outside. Physical activity is vital in children’s all around development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross (large body muscles) and fine (small muscles in hands and fingers) motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood. The development of a child’s strength, coordination and positional awareness is developed through movement opportunities with both objects and adults. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well being. Fine motor control and precision helps with eye-hand coordination, which is later linked to early literacy and writing.



Language comprehension (both reading and writing) develops when adults at St. Adrian’s talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. 

The children will learn comprehension skills alongside learning to decode the words on the page. This will help them to make sense of what the words say and what the text means. These skills help children become keen and confident readers. 

Word Reading

The children will learn about rhyming words, listen for sounds in words, recognise letters and use these to blend words. They will be introduced to letters through the Letters and Sounds programme and develop a love for books from the school reading scheme as well as from the class library. Children learn to enjoy words and language. They love to sing rhymes and share books with others.


Children are encouraged to make marks and use pictures, symbols, letters and familiar words to communicate meaning. They experience a wide range of writing tools and are encouraged to hold them carefully and form letters correctly.

Children develop good small muscle manipulative skills in their hands and fingers before they can form letters.


Through practical activities the children are encouraged to sort and match objects by colour, size and shape, and to recognise, recreate and devise their own patterns. They experience counting games and activities, number rhymes, songs and stories. They learn to use mathematical understanding to solve practical problems. Our curriculum also includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics. We believe that it is very important for the children to develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, and spot connections. 

Understanding the World

In this area of learning, children are developing the crucial skills of knowledge and understanding that help them to make sense of their physical world and their community.   They are encouraged to solve problems and find out about the world around them through using their five senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing.  This forms the foundation for later work in science, design and technology, history, geography, and computing. 

Expressive Arts and Design

Creativity is fundamental to successful learning.  Being creative enables children to make connections between one area of learning and another and so extend their understanding. We provide a huge range of practical activities that promote creativity through art, music, dance, role-play and imaginative play. The frequency, repetition and depth of children’s experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond and observe. 

Religious education 

In the foundation stage religious education drives the whole curriculum. Through engaging, practical, integrated activities, children can learn more about themselves, other people and the world around them and develop their religious knowledge, skills and understanding. Religious education plays an active contribution to the areas of learning outlined in the curriculum for the foundation phase but has a particular and important contribution to personal and social development, communication and language, literacy, understanding of the world, art and design. 

Characteristics of Learning

There are three main characteristics of learning outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.

  • 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 their achievements.
  • Creativity and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas and make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

At St. Adrian’s we focus on learning behaviours and developing the language of ‘how I am learning’.  Our learning super heroes help us talk about how we are learning:



Learning to read is one of the most important things that we can do.

There are two skills we need in learning to read: word reading and comprehension.

Skilled word reading involves swiftly recognising the printed words that we know, whilst rapidly working out how to say those words that are less familiar. To do this, we need to understand that the letters on the page are linked to sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics is so important in our early teaching of reading

Good comprehension brings together our knowledge of language and our knowledge of the world. Our teachers use their skills to help us develop comprehension skills through our shared reading and discussion of stories, poems and non-fiction.

We think it is important to read widely across fiction and non-fiction. Bug Club is our core reading scheme in foundation and key stage one, and Collins’ Big Cat supports us to explore and extend our reading preferences in key stage two.

Our reading scheme helps us to grow as fluent readers. Everyone has a reading book selected from the reading scheme. Our teachers choose the colour band of the book carefully to match the instructional level of reading. This is the level where we have the ‘right’ amount of challenge for developing and practising new reading strategies.

In tandem with our school reading scheme, we choose our own books to read and share. This gives us the chance to explore different story-worlds, topics and authors and to find out what kind of books we really love.

We know that reading for enjoyment is important. We know that there is a strong link between reading for pleasure, how well we do at school and our emotional well-being. The adults in our school regularly share stories, poems and non-fiction with us and this helps to spark different interests and fuel our love of reading.

By the time we leave St Adrian’s, teachers make sure that we can read fluently and with confidence in any subject.

The teaching sequence for writing

Our teaching in English is rooted in our shared enjoyment of high quality texts.

We are taught new skills at the start of each year that reflect the expectations of the national curriculum. The cyclical approach of the teaching sequence for writing enables us to practise, secure and master these skills across the year and to build upon the foundational learning of previous year groups.

Children’s progress through the curriculum is summarised in the following documents.

Year 1 – Progress through the curriculum
Year 2 – Progress through the curriculum
Year 3 – Progress through the curriculum
Year 4 – Progress through the curriculum
Year 5 – Progress through the curriculum
Year 6 – Progress through the curriculum

Through shared reading, we are immersed in the world of the author. Through our talk and through shared writing, we learn to imitate the authors we read and to innovate with the ideas we encounter. As we grow in confidence, we use our ever-expanding writer’s tool-kit to invent, create, edit and author our own texts.

Our Strands Tracker tracks the development of our writer’s tool-kit across the key stages.

Click on each year group’s bookshelf to view our curriculum map.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6


It is important to be able to spell quickly and accurately.

We learn to spell by knowing the link between letters and sounds and by understanding how words and spellings are structured.

In foundation and key stage one, we have a daily phonics session rooted in Letters and Sounds. Following phase 5, we use ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ which has been written to meet the spelling requirements of the national curriculum for year two through to year six.

Our spelling pathway details the learning for each year group.


Neat and fluent handwriting is an important part of sharing our ideas.

We learn to form our letters using a script developed by Debbie Hepplewhite. This is an all-joined style with two main joins: a diagonal join, which starts on the line, and a washing-line (or smile) join.

You can find more about our handwriting style here.

Our Grammar Glossary details the grammatical concepts taught in each year group. You will see that new learning for each year is identified and sits alongside learning from previous classes.

Year 1 Grammar Glossary
Year 2 Grammar Glossary
Year 3 Grammar Glossary
Year 4 Grammar Glossary
Year 5 Grammar Glossary
Year 6 Grammar Glossary

Further Useful documents

The national curriculum in England: English programmes of study

Modern Foreign Languages

French is introduced in Year 3 and studied weekly with a French specialist teacher until the children leave at the end of Year 6.

At St Adrian’s we endeavor to make lessons stimulating and enjoyable and build confidence through lots of praise. We aim to foster an interest in language learning by introducing children to the French language in an inclusive way that is accessible to all pupils.

We aim to develop children’s confidence in speaking in the target language by encouraging them to join in songs, rhymes stories and games, which enable them to practise the language in an enjoyable and non-threatening way.

We strive to help our pupils develop their awareness of cultural similarities and differences. We seek to lay the foundations for future language study by our pupils whilst supporting linguistic understanding of their first language.

Key documents


National Curriculum for MFL

Topics at a glance

*Coming soon

Recommended resources  for practising French at home


For mobiles and tablets: Mindsnacks French – fun interactive French games on a downloadable app.

Online safety help and resources for families

We all want our children to benefit from a great resource like the Internet. In this digital age, children are increasingly spending more of their time online with their devices. They will be going online for school work, to keep in touch with friends, to play games and to explore new things.

Being online can be a very positive experience but, as always, we need to be aware of the risks too. That’s why schools and parents need to work together to help educate our children about how to use the Internet responsibly and safely.

If you would like to work with your children at home on how to be online safe – and we strongly urge you to – you might like to look at the following resources that we use to support the online safety elements of our computing curriculum.

In Key Stage 1, we use the Childnet ‘SMART with a Heart’ resources. There are videos and other resources designed to help you have discussions with your children about what some of the issues might be when they are online, and what they can look out for and do to help protect themselves. With Year 1, we use the Smartie the Penguin resources (also available for Year 2) and with Year 2 we use the ‘SMART with a Heart’ videos to guide discussion.

In Key Stage 2, we use the Be Internet Legends resources (created by Google in partnership with Parentzone). The resources provide a good mix of discussion-based and practical activities, reinforced by the excellent Interland games.

Please also look at our Online Safety Resources Guide which signposts the main organisations and websites providing parent and carer advice on matters of online use and safety. New information and articles are added all the time, so keep checking back, or sign up for free newsletters such as those provided by Parentzone .

For families with children in the EYFS, there are many resources to be found through our guide that will help you establish good habits and ground-rules from an early age.

Remember, it is never too early to start thinking about online safety and well-being.


The Science curriculum at St Adrian’s will make provision for:

  • pupils’ natural curiosity to be encouraged and nourished so as to foster a sense of awe and wonder at the limitless beauty and diversity of the world and beyond;
  • Stimuli  which challenge the pupils to ask questions;
  • engagement and relevance to the pupils;
  • opportunities for children to hone the generic skills of collaboration, independence, research, and reflection;
  • pupils to regularly employ the key scientific skills of making predictions; planning experiments; making observations; taking measurements, presenting data and drawing conclusions based on the results;  discussing the limitations of their empirical findings; and conduct experiments with due regard for safety;
  • the acquisition of the scientific knowledge and skills stipulated in the National Curriculum;
  • opportunities to refine and build upon existing skills and experiences;
  • equipping the pupils for secondary school education and setting them on the road for life-long learning;
  • empowering the pupils to make a positive difference to their community and to society in general.

Key documents

National Curriculum – Key Stage 1 and 2

Whole School Skills Map

Topics at a glance

Autumn 1Autumn 2Spring 1 Spring 2Summer 1Summer 2
Weather and seasons - BBC Teach Materials - KS1 Science - BBC BitesizePlants - Year 1-2 / P2-3 Science - This Term's Topics - Home Learning with  BBC Bitesize - BBC Bitesize Animals, Including Humans Year 1 - Science ResourcesWeather and seasons - BBC Teach
Year 1All about Me Seasonal
MaterialsPlantsAnimals including Humans Seasonal changes
Plants - Year 1-2 / P2-3 Science - This Term's Topics - Home Learning with  BBC Bitesize - BBC Bitesize Materials - KS1 Science - BBC Bitesize Plants - Year 1-2 / P2-3 Science - This Term's Topics - Home Learning with  BBC Bitesize - BBC BitesizeHabitats – Year 1-2 / P3-4 Science - This Term's Topics - Home Learning  with BBC Bitesize - BBC BitesizePlants - Year 1-2 / P2-3 Science - This Term's Topics - Home Learning with  BBC Bitesize - BBC Bitesize
Year 2Plants Everyday
Humans and other animalsPlantsHabitatsPlants
Rocks, soils and fossils - KS2 Science - BBC BitesizeScience - Animals including Humans - Skeleton and Muscles Word Mat -  GrammarsaurusLight - Year 3 Science Resources
Year 3Forces and Magnets Rocks Animals including humansSee Spring 1Light and DarkPlants
Electricity - Year 3-4 / P4-5 Science - This Term's Topics - Home Learning  with BBC Bitesize - BBC BitesizeStates of matter in KS2 | Learning about solids, liquids and gases in  primary school | TheSchoolRunFamous Scientists For Kids | Cool Kid Facts
Year 4Electricity SoundStates of MatterNotable ScientistsAnimals including humansLiving things and their Habitats
Year 5 Code the Solar System – St. Martin's C of E Primary schoolTerm 5 Overview – Shinewater Primary SchoolForces - Year 5-6 / P6-7 Science - This Term's Topics - Home Learning with  BBC Bitesize - BBC Bitesize
Year 5See Autumn 2 Earth in
Material Properties and States of MatterSee Spring 1Animals including humans/
Living things and their Habitats
Evolution and Inheritance | Science | KS2 Year 6 Classification - starting to use keys | Teaching Resources Light - Year 3 Science Resources Electricity - Year 3-4 / P4-5 Science - This Term's Topics - Home Learning  with BBC Bitesize - BBC Bitesize
Year 6Evolution and Inheritance Living things and
Animals including humansLightElectricityNotable Scientists

Relationships and health education

Relationships Education has become statutory for all primary schools from the summer term of 2021. For all schools, Sex Education as part of the Science curriculum remains the same.

Key documents

Parent portal to the school’s scheme of work

Statutory government document

Teaching British Values

At St Adrian’s we promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of Law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

We are committed to serving our community and local area and in so doing, we reinforce these British values regularly in the following ways:

Pupils have their voices heard through our School Council, Pupil Committees and Pupil Voice interviews. The process of pupil voting for the School Council contributes to the elections of Head boy, Head girl and School Council representatives.

British Value in action: We help to make decisions that improve our school

The Rule of Law:
The importance of laws and rules are consistently reinforced in the classroom, as well as through school assemblies. Pupils are taught to understand the need for laws, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken.

British Value in action: We understand that rules help us to be safe and happy

Individual Liberty:
Pupils are encouraged to be independent learners, constantly making choices, within a safe and supportive environment. Pupils are encouraged to understand their personal freedoms and are taught how to use these rights to best effect. All pupils are keen to support charities, whether local, national or global. They are taught consideration for others through our Religious Education curriculum and PSHE lessons.

British Value in action: We understand that freedom comes with responsibility

Mutual Respect:
Our school’s ethos and our behaviour policy are based on Gospel values, with the important commandment being, ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. Assemblies constantly promote respect for others and the importance of good manners. All pupils are taught the importance of self-respect, honest and open communication with others and fair play. Pupils work collaboratively and value others’ opinions.value others’ opinions.

British Value in action: We have respect for ourselves and for others

Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs:
As a Catholic worshipping community, pupils are reminded of their place in a culturally diverse society. This is achieved through our Religious Education curriculum and the spiritual life of the school. Assemblies and class work promote the diversity of society and the right for each person to be respected and valued equally regardless of ability, gender, faith, heritage or race. Members of different faiths or religions both within and outside the school community are invited to contribute through sharing their knowledge and to enhance learning within assemblies and in class.

British Value in action: We understand and accept that our friends may have different beliefs and opinions


At St Adrian’s we teach mathematics through a maths mastery approach. We strive to develop a deep, long-term and adaptable understanding of maths for all pupils. By teaching children to master maths, they become mathematically fluent and are able to solve non-routine problems without having to memorise procedures.

Teachers identify the key learning for each class and plan to secure these.  Learning sequences are developmental and, depending on the concept, a good proportion of time will be spent securing key learning. Teachers use their judgement about when it is the right time to move on.  This approach enables the large majority of pupils to progress through the curriculum content at broadly the same pace.

Key documents

St Adrian’s Long Term Plan for Mathematics

Progression resources

National Curriculum link

Topics at a glance 

We use Maths — No Problem! textbooks and workbooks, which have been written to meet the requirements of the 2014 English national curriculum. The MNP Primary Series was assessed by the DfE’s expert panel, which judged that it met the core criteria for a high-quality textbook to support teaching for mastery.

Music Curriculum Year 6


The learning in this unit is focused around one song: Happy, a Pop song by Pharrell Williams. The material presents an integrated approach to music where games, the dimensions of music (pulse, rhythm, pitch etc), singing and playing instruments are all linked.


This unit of work builds on previous learning. The learning is focused around two tunes and improvising: Bacharach Anorak and Meet The Blues.


The learning is focused around the song from Benjamin Britten’s Friday Afternoons: A New Year Carol. Other learning within the unit gives pupils the opportunity to research Benjamin Britten’s life and to listen to many of his other works through links to Fridayafternoonsmusic.co.uk .


The learning in this unit is focused around one song: You’ve Got A Friend by Carole King. The material presents an integrated approach to music where games, the dimensions of music (pulse, rhythm, pitch etc), singing and playing instruments are all linked.

Pupils will will explore the concept of ‘identity’. Music and Me focuses on inspirational women working in music. Pupils are invited to try out different ways of making their own music, while exploring the work of some of the most influential women in music over the last 100 years. Four British female contemporary artists are featured and interviewed in the unit; all living in the UK, expressing themselves through music and with different cultural backgrounds.


This Unit of Work consolidates the learning that has occurred during the year. All the learning is focused around revisiting songs and musical activities, a context for the History of Music and the beginnings of the Language of Music.