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Early Years Foundation Stage

‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’

Matthew 18:2-6

 

We strive, each day, to afford our children every possible opportunity to reach their innate potential and, for now and the future, to realise their own dreams and ambitions. We seek to counter from the outset any circumstantial disadvantage, whatever that may be: to use any less favourable starting points as an incentive, rather than an excuse. We know that the most significant contributor to success for our children will be the people who journey through their education with them: their parents and carers, teachers and support staff. We pride ourselves in the quality of our staff team: their knowledge, skills and dedication. Joint effort, enthusiasm and shared knowledge of each pupil’s needs is a vital starting point, and one which must be actively established and sustained over time. The connections we establish with children’s parents and carers are essential to pupils having the support they need to thrive, personally and academically. We commit each year to offering support through teacher meetings, workshops and invitations for families to come and spend time together in school.

 

We pay enormous heed to the Prime Areas of Learning, knowing, without doubt, that the fate of all other areas of learning rests on these. For our children, we have no time to ‘wait and see’. Curriculum learning and intervention must be delivered effectively, but also in a timely manner. We must be skilled in our use of time; the school day is only made up of so many hours after all. Children with concerning starting points undoubtedly need time to develop through playful experiences and child led enquiry; however this alone will not sustain them nor provide them, in later years, with an equal chance of success in their Primary and Secondary education. Lost ground must be recovered; we must achieve this in a way that is engaging and enjoyable for the children, but ambitious none the less.

 

The intent of our Early Years Foundation Stage, through use of knowledgeable and passionate staff, an enabling environment and a bespoke curriculum, is to equip children with the key language skills and confidence they need to thrive in the Year 1 classroom and beyond. To empower them as they steer forward their own learning, so that they have the appetite that a true learner requires: seeking knowledge, acquiring skills and revelling in new experiences, not because they are expected to, but because they want to. We want all children to discover the joy of learning and to see and feel for themselves a tangible transformation from one term to the next.

 

The importance of becoming a reader is front and centre throughout our key stage. Children’s minds and brains are shaped from birth to prepare them for engagement with stories: we see this in their acquisition of language and their drive to make connections with the people and the events in the world around them. Both pave the way for being read to and ultimately reading for themselves. For many of our children, this path is not as defined nor developed as it could be; much work is still to be done. Our intention is to be relentless and unapologetic in addressing head on what is needed: dedicating time and resources for children to master phonics; providing quality interventions for speech and language difficulties for all who need them; offering a daily diet of rich and engaging stories and story based learning. With all such components reliably in place, we can start to weave together the fundamental threads of early reading that we know so well.

 

Our whole school commitment to Character Development, which in Early Years includes a strong focus on the Characteristics of Effective Learning, is at the heart of our curriculum offer. We pride ourselves in the willingness and confidence with which pupils approach learning experiences. For such young children, this goes hand in hand with the warm and nurturing relationships that all staff establish with pupils. From these early connections grows trust and a climate where children feel safe to be themselves, explore and take risks. Children learn quickly that what they cannot accomplish can be termed ‘not yet’, as everyone has the potential to keep trying and succeed.

 

No two children are the same. We seek for children to discover the wonder of their uniqueness and to grow safe in the knowledge that they are special, important and valued. Where differences between children leaves a pupil or group of pupils at a disadvantage, we seek to counter this by finding the barriers that exist and tackling these head on. For children with additional needs, we must endeavour to learn as much as we can about them as an individual and build a trusting relationship that will underpin any teaching and learning ambitions. Only then can we provide a curriculum that is finely tuned to their specific needs and starting points, whilst being carefully informed by information from their parents and other professional colleagues. We consider regular reflection on progress to be vital in guaranteeing no child is left behind, nor overlooked: for the most vulnerable of children, we must show that our dedication and ambition is on par with every single pupil in our school.

 

For every child in our school, we strive to bring to life the true wonder of learning and to share with them the joy and sense of belonging that our school community offers.

The curriculum offered in our Early Years covers all the many areas of the Foundation stage. Learning is a range of direct teaching (in small groups or 1 to 1) and, most importantly, child-led use of the provision. Every effort is made so that children can consolidate teaching and also make their own inquisitive exploration, combining these to solve problems or pose their own questions and lines of enquiry. The timetables in both Nursery and Reception are busy and highly structured to ensure that no opportunity is wasted; however the school day from the children’s point of view is less structured, flows smoothly and allows a range of playful and engaging experiences both indoors and outdoors.

 

 

We, as a school, understand that it can be hard for a parent to gain a true understanding of their child’s curriculum and what is being focused on in Key subjects. To help address this we offer a variety of parent workshops throughout the school year:

 

  • Preparation for Success: Key skills that help a child to be ready for their school journey

This workshop covers:

  • The Social and Emotional aspects of learning
  • The importance of Communication
  • Self-help skills and why they matter
  • Physical Development
  • Dispelling myths about learning

 

  • Storytelling Workshop in Nursery

This workshop covers:

  • Observe a storytelling session
  • Introduction to the lending library system
  • Guidance on storytelling 

 

  • Mark Making into Writing in Nursery

This workshop covers:

  •  The mark making journey from Birth - 5
  • The importance of physical development 
  • Pencil control support
  • Addressing misconceptions with letter formation

 

  • Early Maths in Nursery & Reception

This workshop covers:

  • The counting principles
  • The Learning Journey
  • Achieving Mastery in the early years
  • The Walk Home Challenge 
  • Supporting the Maths Journey at home
  • Maths stay & play

 

  • Reading and Phonics in Reception

This workshop covers:

  • The Characteristics of Effective Learning
  • School systems for the teaching of Reading
  • Why Phonics matters
  • The ‘Letters and Sounds Programme’ and the key phases within it
  • Blending and Segmenting skills
  • Making phonics fun
  • Home reading (including reading and being read to)

 

In addition to these, we meet parents on a 1:1 basis at our school Parent’s Evenings. This provides the opportunity to update parents on their child’s progress and current priorities, and also helps parents to understand how their child’s stage of learning compares with the age related skills and understanding set out in the Development Matters Framework and, towards the end of the Reception year, with the statutory Early Learning Goals. 

 

 

CoEL advocate that in planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn, and then reflect these in their practice. A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment.  The three key strands identified by the EYFS 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.

The focus of the CoEL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoEL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence, why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.

 

         

 

 

For information regarding EYFS staff & the transition process to our school, follow the link to our EYFS parent page below.

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