The Statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage 2021 sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5 years and is supported by the Development Matters Non-Statutory Guidance 2021.
Our curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, both from previous settings and their experiences at home. We work in partnership with parents, carers and other settings to provide the best possible start within the Carey Federation to ensure that each individual child reaches their full potential from their various starting points. Our curriculum has been designed to enable children to succeed through ‘aiming high’, ‘being resilient’ and by ‘taking care of each other’. We also carefully facilitate the ‘characteristics of effective learning’ by allowing children to play and explore, investigate things and ‘have a go’. By concentrating and keep on trying, even when they encounter difficulties, they can become active learners and enjoy their achievements. Giving them opportunities to develop their own ideas and strategies for doing things, they make links between ideas and become creative and critical thinkers. These are the fundamental skills and attitudes required to help children become lifelong learners, focusing on not just what children need to learn but how they learn it.
There is a strong emphasis on the Prime Areas of learning; Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development and Communication and Language, including Oracy and our aim is to encourage a love of reading right from the start. We explore all opportunities to focus on early language by developing and extending children’s vocabulary skills across all 7 areas, because this improves child development in a broad curriculum. We recognise that language development is central to supporting children’s self-regulation as they use language to guide their actions and plans, improving their academic outcomes as well as ensuring success beyond school, in life and for future employment. Language development also supports a child’s thinking and understanding, which promotes their self-confidence, resilience, empathy and their well-being.
Our aim is to provide children with a deep conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts and to build a sense of enjoyment, awe and wonder for the subject. We want to ensure that all children develop firm mathematical foundations in a way that is engaging, and appropriate for their age. Through a wide variety of activities, we aim to support children to develop a deep understanding of the composition of numbers and a sense of what happens when they manipulate the numbers, as we recognise these are important core skills that they need to master in order to be successful in mathematics later on.
We promote a rich, varied and safe enabling environment where children can play, explore and learn and acknowledge that this contributes greatly to their learning and development in the early years. Our practitioners value and encourage independence by understanding how each individual child learns best. We also make sure that our emotional environment creates a warm atmosphere that enables children to feel safe and secure and where adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration right from the start. We believe that high level engagement ensures high level attainment. We therefore provide an engaging curriculum that maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking. By following children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school, it is our intent that at the end of the Reception year all children will make at least good progress from their starting points and are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1.
Each half term, the Early Years staff introduce a new theme to provide children with the inspiration for learning, whilst providing flexibility for children to follow their own interests and ideas. Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities and a timetable is carefully structured so that they have directed teaching during the day followed by small focused group work. This means the teachers and support staff can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning. Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for learning both inside and outside of the classrooms.
We value the importance of language development by encouraging the children to sing songs and nursery rhymes and model language by reading stories aloud, exposing them to a range of books that not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their oracy, vocabulary and comprehension. These books are embedded in our provision through activities, story sessions and on displays for children to access independently. Through this, children begin to internalise new vocabulary, language patterns and using talk for writing, they begin to retell stories from their own actions and ideas.
We follow the Read, Write, Inc programme for teaching phonics to develop children’s oral blending and segmenting skills, and to ensure consistency across the whole school and Federation. Our pre-school children are supported to develop their concentration and speaking and listening skills, laying the foundations for phonics learning in their Reception year. Children are encouraged to read at home and are given decodable books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers.
There are six key areas of early mathematics learning, which collectively provide a platform for everything the children will encounter as they progress through their mathematical learning at school, and beyond. This are: cardinality and counting, comparison, composition, pattern, shape and space and pattern. There will be an emphasis on understanding the ‘counting principles’ as these are recognised as the foundations to early calculation. With the support of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM), we are also using educational videos such as Numberblocks to introduce early number concepts. These help children to bring the numbers and ideas to life in the world around them and include opportunities to support mathematical concepts with concrete and pictorial experiences. Practitioners will also model precise and correct mathematical language and use key sentences to provide a language structure to connect each mathematical idea to different contexts. Meaningful interactions with adults will support children in developing mathematical thinking and discussion, helping them to develop the correct and precise mathematical language.
Our wider curriculum is taught through the specific learning areas; ‘Understanding of the World’ and ‘Expressive Arts and Design.’ Teachers and support staff have a good understanding of how these learning and development areas support the National Curriculum through planning of activities to engage and challenge the children. In reverse, subject co-ordinators and colleagues throughout the Federation are also aware of how these link to each foundation subject and have demonstrated progression from the Early Years to Year 6 in their subject area. Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. For example, building a boat for their favourite toy enables them to think like a ‘Scientist’ and ‘Engineer’ as they explore a range of materials and test out their own ideas.
Building further on our oracy focus, children will be encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology, as detailed in our ‘knowledge organisers’ for the specific and foundation subjects. Vocabulary will be modelled, both verbally and orally, by supporting practitioners.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we have a range of additional intervention and support for children who may not be reaching their potential, or are showing a greater depth of understanding and need further challenge. This includes, for example, sessions for developing speech and language, social skills, fine motor skills, phonics, and mathematics. Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by the Senior Leadership Team and the Early Years and Subject Co-ordinators ensure staff develop good subject knowledge. The Early Years leader ensures staff receive continuing professional development (CPD) specific to Early Years to develop their practice. For example, we model to support staff examples of effective observations, in order to help them understand where pupils are, and their ‘next steps,’ for learning.
Prior to children starting, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journey’s and reports to gain an understanding of the whole child before they start school. During the first half term in Nursery or Reception, all staff use ongoing assessments, observations and conversations with the child to develop a baseline on-entry assessment. This identifies each individual’s starting points in all areas so we can plan experiences to ensure their progress. A Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment is also carried out and focuses on ‘Language, Communication and Literacy,’ and ‘Mathematics.’ The purpose of this is to show the progress children make from Reception until the end of Key Stage 2.
Ongoing formative assessments and observations are used to inform planning and identify children’s next steps. This type of assessment does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children and excessive paperwork. Practitioners draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements through discussions with other practitioners, photographs and physical examples such as a child’s drawing/making. Some observations are uploaded using 2Simple and shared with the supporting parents and carers and examples kept in individual files.
Summative Assessments, such as Read, Write, Inc phonic assessments are carried out using a prescribed tracker to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ where possible. ‘Notice and Focus’ assessments are also completed three times per year and identify the progress children have made which is shared with parents. In the second half of the Summer Term, the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is completed where teachers judge whether the child has met each of the Early Learning Goals (ELG). They will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected.’ Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher. Impact is also evident through our successful transitions into Year 1. EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s link to the National Curriculum, and through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects – both core and foundation – children leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey as scientists, historians, artists and geographers.
In addition, at the end of EYFS our children will: