Early Years

Early Years Foundation Stage

Intent:

Our overall aim is to enable children to become resilient, independent and confident learners. We believe young children are capable researchers, collaborators, communicators, who can think critically and solve problems. Our aim is to provide rich, engaging experiences that bring joy to children in their learning so they are curious to learn even more.

 

The children of reception age join Willow class and are taught alongside some of the year one children making an average class size of 24. Willow class is located in the oldest part of the school building and has direct access to two outside areas.

 

EYFS Values

We believe children should have the opportunity to learn through play. Learning should be fun, engaging and suitably challenging. We value the importance of our outdoor environment and believe that it offers children the opportunity to develop their thinking and problem solving skills. Adults provide high quality interactions; they are role models for learning. We believe that an Early Years setting should be a mixture of child-initiated play and adult led teaching and modelling. We feel that children should be given the opportunity to explore new experiences. As adults we are on hand to direct play, ask questions and pose challenges to guide children with their learning and adapt where necessary to suit their individual learning needs. We also believe that children still need specific adult-led activities, individually or in small groups, where they can learn and practise the core skills crucial to their learning.

 

Implementation

Transition and parental partnership

We believe that for children to thrive in school they must feel secure and confident. For this to happen then parents must also feel secure and confident. In addition, understanding the interests and motivations of each unique child is central to effective learning, it is critical we engage effectively with both parents and pre-school provision both prior and during the child’s time in school. 

 

We recognise that parents and carers are first and foremost the child’s first educators and therefore consider them part of our team. We maintain excellent liaison with parents through:

  • A chance to meet the Willow class team during our summer term welcome meeting
  • Visits for all children starting reception
  • Contact with every pre-school/child minder during summer term
  • Meetings with parent where they are invited to meet staff, share any concerns/ queries and learn about the expectations at the end of EYFS
  • Daily personalised meet and greets
  • Parents are invited into classrooms, throughout the year, to look through Learning Journeys and enjoy sharing books with their children

 

As part of our holistic approach to learning and development, we encourage a two-way flow of information and observation so that the children’s interests and milestones can be captured at home as well as at school. Parents are given ‘WOW’ moments to fill in and are actively encouraged to celebrate their child’s achievements and contribute to their Tapestry learning journeys.

Weekly observations are made of the children's learning in line with the new EYFS framework and the move away from over assessing and shared with the parents via Tapestry. This, together with termly parent consultations, ensures that all parents are knowledgeable of their child’s progress and attainment and aware of their next steps and targets.

Strong partnerships with families, our community and visitors enable children to learn about and develop an understanding of people and communities beyond their immediate experience. We recognise the cultural capital that our children are equipped with: we encourage families to share their cooking, music, traditional dress and travels.

 

Although due to COVID restrictions we have been unable to regularly welcome parents onsite, we have managed to continue regular communication and involvement has remained strong and effective.

 

Creative Curriculum

We believe that children learn most effectively when they are given choice about what they learn, how they learn and are provided with a supportive, fun and safe learning environment. We feel that all these factors contribute towards a child’s fundamental enjoyment of learning. Children in the EYFS use the ‘Learning Dinosaurs’ to learn how to play cooperatively, try their best, think about their answers, explore, share and solve problems.

 

We understand that the first year in school is a crucial year for not only providing the children with a strong and secure base in the prime areas of learning but also providing them with the necessary core life skills, knowledge and confidence in their abilities for the next stage in their learning. As a result, our lessons are planned to accommodate child-initiated play alongside teacher directed activities. This is essential practice to ensure that all areas of the curriculum are covered and making sure that children cover everything that they wouldn’t necessarily come to through their own choice or experience.

 

We carefully structure our day to balance short adult-led learning, with longer child-led sessions. We expect both approaches to foster the characteristics of effective learning and produce deep level learning. We have clear progression in the skills needed across the Prime (Physical Development; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication and Language) and Core areas (Mathematics, Literacy, Expressive Arts and Design and Understanding the World). Daily mathematical, literacy and fine motor challenges are also set and children are encouraged to complete them.

 

Active learning and real life mathematics enable our children to develop skills and understanding. As part of our core provision we offer a wide range of meaningful experiences such as cooking, shopping, games, den building, construction, problem-solving, measuring as part of creative experiences and understanding time as part of supporting sharing and turn taking.

 

We organise topic related class trips each year, as well as trips out locally to the post office, church and park. As well as trips out, we ensure we provide a range of high quality enriching visitors and experiences in school. Due to Covid restrictions this has been limited but prior to this period, visitors included Zoo Lab, Insect Lore, The life bus and the local Fire Brigade.

 

Through our daily observations and team discussions, we are aware of each child's progress and next steps. Each half term we assess our children against the 7 areas of Development Matters and highlight where they are at in order to make plans for intervention, make adjustments to the environment and our teaching practice. All of these judgements are moderated by the whole team to ensure accuracy and a holistic picture of each child.

 

Using the data we gather, the teaching team plan adult led activities suitable for the development of each child, in order for there to be challenge or support. Children are split into a number of groups for phonics and are placed in focus groups for those who require additional support.

 

Love of Reading

We believe that reading is an essential skill that all children must learn. In the early years, through the teaching of discreet phonics, those skills of how to read and apply phonics are taught. It is vital that children not only know how to become great readers but be skilled in reading. Their comprehension and being able to interpret and answer questions about a text are as important. However, we feel that none of these factors will come together if a love of reading is not established in the first instance.

 

Our phonics teaching is logical and rigorous, following the Read Write Inc progression, whilst utilising cued articulation to support children with how each sound is made. It is only a small part of our approach to nurturing a love of reading.

 These include:

  • Daily adult-led phonics teaching – this happens through both whole class sessions and smaller group ‘word time’ sessions. During these smaller group times we provide children with the opportunity to learn phonics in a way which exactly suits their individual needs.
  • High quality texts in all areas of the Learning Environment (inside and out)
  • A wide selection of levelled reading books for YR children to take home which match their phonic knowledge and a library book for parents to read to them..
  • Systematic learning of High Frequency Words (YR) in playful ways to promote reading fluency.
  • A range of texts read daily by the class teacher 
  • The children know that they can choose books from the classroom to look at with a friend or adult throughout the day
  • Opportunities to learn and act out stories, bringing them to life!
  • Whole class Guided Reading Sessions every morning which focus on early comprehension skills
  • Key words in the environment
  • Sharing of favourite books that children have brought in themselves
  • The introduction of family reading mornings every Friday (paused due to Covid)

 

 SEND

We understand that every child is unique and will have their own individual needs and ways of learning. We aim to provide an environment where all children can thrive and reach their full potential. Any children in need of extra support will be planned for and strategies shared with families and the team. In Willow Class we recognise that all children develop at their own rate and support and celebrate their uniqueness.

 

Safeguarding

The safety of our children is our utmost priority. Staff carry out and regularly up-date Risk Assessments, involving the children, and ensure appropriate safety equipment is used. They teach the children to be aware of how to keep themselves safe especially when using large scale construction or when using the bikes and scooters in the outside area. Children are familiar with following procedures and practise fire drills on a regular basis. If any incidents do occur, we can care for the children effectively as two members of our team are Paediatric first aid trained.