Benedict Biscop Prince Bishop School Teaching Alliance Leading School
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Early Years Foundation Stage

Benedict Biscop CE Academy is recognised as one of the DFE Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs, supporting early years settings in Sunderland, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Gateshead, Newcastle and North and South Tyneside. At Benedict Biscop CE Academy we combine outstanding provision with outstanding practice, resulting in exceptionally high standards.

We see our children as curious individuals with the power and potential to develop and learn from their environment and the relationships they build with others. The school has been successfully received many awards and were revalidated in 2022 for the Early Years Quality Mark – recognising the strong provision, standards and high-quality leadership.


Our unique EYFS vision, based on our whole school believe that ‘With God all things are possible’, is focused on our belief that children are central to their own learning and development.  By believing in them and providing them with well thought out opportunities they are able to achieve.  We share with our children:

‘You are powerful…

You are curious…

You are rich in potential…

You are confident…

You are a researcher…

You are resilient….

You are competent….

With God all things are possible’

Our provision

At Benedict Biscop CE Academy, we have a 90-place mixed Nursery and Reception open plan provision.  Older pupils are able to act as positive role models for our younger pupils, both academically and socially. This helps younger and new pupils settle quicker into the provision, ultimately maximising learning time. Older pupils also act as excellent role models for communication and language and we have found that younger pupils’ communication is developed more quickly given this opportunity.

Our provision is Reggio inspired.  As a school, we aim to create an environment that encourages the children to be curious and be motivated to learn, in keeping with the Reggio philosophy.

Leaders and staff have intentionally and purposefully designed our learning environment to act as a ‘third teacher’. When creating our provision, we have tried to create a sustainable environment, using natural and real-life materials, which provoke exploration.  Resources are chosen to be more open-ended and pupils should be able to access them when needed. In doing this, pupils are able to learn alongside peers of different ages and abilities. Staff are able to support them to develop by first identifying their starting points and then scaffolding the next steps in their learning, making experiences very personalised. Pupils are also able to revisit learning regularly and master the key knowledge and skills they need to meet the Early Learning Goals and be ready for Key Stage 1.

‘The EYFS is about how children learn, as well as what they learn. Children need opportunities to develop their own play and independent exploration. This is enjoyable and motivating. They also need adults to ‘scaffold’ their learning by giving them just enough help to achieve something they could not do independently.’ Development Matters 2023

We have created distinct areas within our provision both indoors and outdoors.  Inside we have three distinct spaces: the snug, the studio and the garden.

The snug is a space that replicates the home, and like a home, it has many rooms [areas] within which provide a different experience and opportunity. Children are able to express themselves through role play, learn about and develop relationships and community. Different cultures are celebrated.  In our studio, pupils are provided with a range of creative mediums, resources and stimuli. The space provides an environment to develop fine motor skills and artistic techniques. There are also small discrete areas, providing environments for specific needs and interest i.e., our sensory room.

We know that some children will prefer to work at times indoors and at times outdoors.  We have therefore created mini climates that provide an alternative experience. For example, our Garden area replicates the outside inside and our poly tunnel provision outside also provides an indoor provision outdoors. Within the garden space, the children are given the opportunity to explore and apply scientific concepts.  They explore and engage with nature, developing a respect for the world and become more environmentally responsible.

In our outdoor environment we have a sand and water ‘beach’ experience, where pupils are able to design, construct and explore structure and textures. Children are able to explore materials and forces, developing an understanding of capacity and measures. This is extended further in our water wall. In the Forest our children are able to explore the natural world, observe changing seasons and gain a knowledge and understanding of the world around them. In the mud kitchen pupils use mathematical concepts in ‘recipes’, children live real life experience of being in a kitchen making ‘food’.  The water and mud allow the children to do this whilst exploring a range of textures in a creative environment. The garden areas allow children to understand the world where they can identify and classify plants and animals.  They learn about caring for our environment, growth and life cycles.


At Benedict Biscop C.E. Academy we provide a range of different teaching approaches to best meet the needs of our pupils. During the school day, pupils will have access to a range of adult led activities [such as Phonics or Maths Meeting sessions] and they will also be provided with opportunities for child-initiated learning through play and exploration [within our continuous provision].

Within continuous provision, key holistic and open-ended resources are placed in the environment all year round [such as clay]. Aligned with our school curriculum, staff may add ‘provocations’ to the provision to steer learning in a new direction and provoke new curiosity. This ensures that our pupils are constantly challenged and ensures that pupils successfully meet our curriculum intent.

‘Effective pedagogy is a mix of different approaches. Children learn through play, by adults modelling, by observing each other, and through guided learning and direct teaching.’ Development Matters 2023

To ensure that our staff are able to best support our pupils, scaffold learning and provide these personalised experiences, we have ensured that staff are skilled questioners and that they understand the progressional stages of learning within each area of our curriculum, by providing them with access to ongoing professional development opportunities via our Early Years Stronger Practice Hub, DFE Teaching School Hub and strong multi-academy Trust.


Our early years curriculum is the starting point for all subjects within the National Curriculum at Key Stage 1 and 2. It ensures that all 7 areas of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage are covered within each National Curriculum subject area and the Early Learning Goals within each of these areas are able to be achieved.

Development Matters – Non-statutory curriculum guidance has been used to support the development of progression within our curriculum.  Staff are able to use the observation checkpoints to help identify any child who is at risk of falling behind, so they can plan effectively to ensure they reach age-related expectations and end of EYFS.  

In the curriculum learning objectives have been identified to support the development of key knowledge to ensure our children are school ready for Year 1.

In order to challenge our pupils, we aim to provide a language rich environment, therefore subject specific vocabulary has been identified to support the development of communication and language across our full curriculum.  Within EYFS we use the EEF recommended tiered vocabulary approach.

Key texts have been identified through our reading spine and story cycle as a method for supporting our pupils to learn through stories.

EYFS Statutory Framework

EYFS Revised Development Matters

Early Year’s Curriculum linked to National Curriculum subjects

Language rich

Communication and Language, vocabulary and reading underpin all areas of the curriculum. Children experience a wide range of stories, rhymes and songs to help them develop their vocabulary and language is constantly modelled to children.

EYFS Story Cycle A – books revisited every 3 weeks
Daily Maths Meeting Documentation

The Snug


Staff ensure that learning is documented and to support a raised awareness of where pupils are working at, their interests and needs for all staff within the provision.  Staff will document ‘the child’s voice’ and also keep a record of pieces of work completed independently within the provision. The EYFS team will then use this evidence to help inform assessments against the Early Years Framework.


When children are ready (completion of foundation for phonics) they begin phase 2 phonics and are given a book matched to ability to take home. School have chosen to follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised validated programme. Each lesson follows a cycle of review, teach, practice, apply allows children to do just that developing long term memory and visual clues for vocabulary. As the pupils progress within the phases children will move onto written application of sounds, extending into words and sentences.  Pupils are then provided with numerous opportunities throughout the day, within the continuous provision to apply their skills in contexts relevant to them.  This has been really successful in motivating pupils to write and increasing writing opportunities across the curriculum.

Children are then given home reading books carefully matched to their phonic ability; this allows children to apply their learned phonics sounds. In addition to daily phonics, in the afternoon, staff also follow the Little Wandle reading model, which means books sent home is also practiced in school as part of reading sessions with 3 discrete foci;

  1. Decoding
  2. Prosody
  3. Comprehension

This is continued within into year 1 supporting continuity. To ensure that parents are supported with the introduction of phonics, upon entry to our foundation stage parents are provided with materials and workshops are run to stress the importance of basic skills. 

Beach School

As a school in Sunderland, a coastal city, we believe that it is important that our children have the opportunity to explore their locality and visit the beach from an early age. Once our pupils start Reception, we begin Beach School. Each week, pupils are be taken to explore the beach and the adjoining village of Seaham. Learning is taken from our Geography curriculum and the children’s interests. Children are involved in benefit risk assessments based on the tide, weather and time of day. Once at the beach the children will be provided with a range of provocations, whilst having the opportunity to explore physical and human features of the beach such as the sea, caves, harbour and rock pools.


Prior to starting at Benedict Biscop CE Academy, staff will arrange a home visits. This valuable opportunity allows us to meet our new pupils in an environment where they are most comfortable. Staff will spend 1:1 time with families getting to know the children and any individual requirements.

Transition into school will then be staggered to ensure children are happy and settled and ready to begin their journey in Early Years.

Guidance for parents – how can you help prepare your child for early years?
– Talk to your child about starting early years and about how it is an exciting experience, something he or she will enjoy.
– Encourage your child to play with other children and share toys with them.
– Children should be able to attempt to put on items of clothing such as coats and shoes and be able to ask for support if needed
– Encourage him or her to tidy up after him/herself.
– Encourage your child to talk clearly about everyday experiences
– Look at books together, talking about the stories and pictures.
– Give your child opportunities for drawing his or her own pictures and if you do teach your child to write his or her own name, please do not use all capital letters.
– Involve your child in counting and sorting everyday things.
– Allow your child to practise cutting out using small scissors with rounded ends.
– Encourage your child to use basic cutlery and drink from a cup
– Where possible, children should walk to nursery and not be reliant upon pushchairs


To view our admission policies click here.

Interested in finding out more?

If you would like to find out more about our curriculum. Please contact the school office by emailing and we will ask a member of staff to get back in touch a.s.a.p.

Helping children to realise their potential. Aspiring to excellence in all aspects of life

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