At Trottiscliffe Church of England Primary School, our aim for our EYFS is to create a learning environment and build relationships which support, enhance and stimulate a child’s curiosity, confidence and individual competency to flourish regardless of backgrounds, circumstances or needs.
Our EYFS curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning from previous settings and their experiences at home. We aim to work in partnership with parents and carers to encourage resilient, independent, enthusiastic learners who thrive and reach their full potential from their various starting points. We believe that children’s first experiences of school should be happy and positive, enabling them to develop a lifelong love of learning and we strive to ensure that all children feel safe and confident so that they can explore, play and learn.
Through the seven areas of learning we aim to provide first hand learning experiences that excite and engage children, building on their own interests and developing their experiences of the world around them, whilst allowing children to build knowledge, resilience, curiosity, creativity and rich imaginations. Every child is recognised as a unique individual and we celebrate and welcome differences within our school community. We recognise that all children come into our setting with varied experiences and all staff work hard to ensure that the learning opportunities provided widen their knowledge and understanding of the world, setting ambitious expectations for all children and supporting them to become secure, confident and skilful communicators. We ensure that all children will have access to a broad and balanced, play-based curriculum within a language rich environment, preparing them for now and for the future in terms of opportunities and experiences.
Our curriculum celebrates diversity, valuing all of God’s children and treating everyone with dignity and respect. We support pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Those children with particular needs, including SEND, are supported appropriately allowing them to be successful in every way possible.
We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework at Trottiscliffe Church of England Primary School. This is made up of four overriding principles, helping to form part of our guiding principles which act as a ‘golden thread’ weaving through the fabric of our practice:
· Unique Child – Every child is unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
· Positive Relationships – Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
· Enabling Environments – Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and carers.
· Learning and Development – Children develop and learn in different ways.
Areas of Learning
All areas of the EYFS curriculum are followed and provided for to ensure a progressive learning environment and curriculum led by children’s interests and fascinations. The children will learn new skills, acquire new knowledge and demonstrate understanding through the seven areas of the EYFS curriculum:
• Personal, Social and Emotional Development
• Physical Development,
• Communication and Language,
• Understanding the World,
• Expressive Arts and Design
The framework covers the education and care of all children in early year’s provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Whilst focusing on the seven areas of learning, we ensure that we provide a broad and balanced curriculum for our EYFS children by encouraging children to add to their ‘toolkit’ through our key aspirations, developed alongside the seven areas of learning. We see these aspirations as ‘tools’ to support in illuminating children’s minds, helping to make their futures brighter. They include:
- Learning a selection of fairy tales – Throughout the year we look closely at a selection of traditional and fairy tales, introducing different versions of the story and learning new vocabulary. We encouraging children to internalise each story through repeated retellings so that they are able to retell it themselves. Structured comprehension questions based on Blooms Taxonomy are used with each traditional or fairy tale, supporting children to develop their higher order thinking skills.
- Learning a selection of nursery rhymes and poems off by heart – We introduce nursery rhymes through storytelling, using a range of resources which are then added to the environment for the children to enjoy. We use Tricia Lee’s ‘The Poetry Basket’ to introduce fun, rhythmic poems and teach the children to learn each poem off by heart before either performing it to parents in person, or recording it to share on our learning platform. Poems are weaved in alongside children’s interests and learning.
- Supporting children to make connections to nature – Adults will support children to make strong connections to nature, helping them to see the beauty of outdoors in all weathers and throughout the seasons so that they can learn to appreciate and care for our world and all of the creatures in it. We focus on learning about woodland animals and insects, observing common birds, identifying different types of trees and commonly found flowers and on growing our own vegetables.
- Being exposed to a variety of authors and their collection of books – Adults provide a range of favourite authors each half term. The aim is to expose children to a range of books that not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their oracy, vocabulary, phonics skills and comprehension. These books and stories will be embedded in our provision through activities, story sessions and on display for children to access independently. Through this, children begin to internalise new vocabulary, language patterns and begin to retell stories.
- Learning about how to take care of themselves and the world that we live in – We believe that wellbeing, self-regulation and self-care is crucial for living long, healthy lives and so teach the children about mindfulness and how to look after their mental health using techniques such as yoga and meditation. We also look at physical health and looking after our bodies through exercise, healthy eating and mindful teeth brushing. Taking care of the planet is a vital necessity for the world that our children are growing up in and so we teach them about the importance of recycling and reusing resources, as well as taking care of animals and the importance of bees and wasps.
- Promoting equality - We strive to build an awareness about valuing and respecting the diversity of individuals, families and communities through first hand experiences. Adults will support children to see their own identity reflected positively in the setting as well as that of others so that they can become aware of and appreciate the difference in others.
The 7 Areas of Learning, along with our key aspirations, are used to guide children’s learning and activities through our child-led curriculum and are implemented through a balance of child-initiated and adult-led sessions in a rich, purposeful environment, aiming to inspire awe and wonder. Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside. Adults create enabling indoor and outside environments that are equipped to meet the needs, interests and stages of development of each child, following children’s interests as well as inspiring new ideas. We see our environment as the ‘third teacher’ as it plays a crucial role in children’s development through play. Areas within our indoor and outdoor space are designed to encourage independence, investigations, exciting encounters and discovery, and our highly skilled adults provide rich and stimulating learning opportunities for the children through enhancements, provocations and experiences. Our EYFS garden is used all year round and in all weather conditions.
During play-based sessions, children are encouraged to follow their own interests in our stimulating environment, learning through their own explorations and curiosity, and following their own ideas and motivations. Our crucial role as adults during this time is to stimulate and support children’s thinking and learning, supporting them to reach beyond their current limits, inspire their learning and support their development through high-quality interactions. Our approach to adult interactions acknowledges the broad range of teaching interactions that occur, including modelling, questioning, researching, recalling and setting challenges. It means being a partner with children, enjoying with them the power of their curiosity and the thrill of finding out what they can do with support and guidance where needed. This means the teacher 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.
Throughout all learning opportunities, we ensure that activities support the Characteristics of Effective Learning to ensure learning takes place. These 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;
Creating and Thinking Critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.
To help to build our learning community and develop relationships with family members, we offer ‘Parent Play’ sessions where family members are invited to come into school and play with the children whilst sharing their own skills and passions with the children. We keep parents informed and involved in their child’s development through our regular ‘focus child’ meetings, and provide opportunities for parents to get involved with the children’s learning through workshops, our online learning platform as well as providing opportunities to contribute to the children’s curriculum.
Our curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, both from previous settings and from their experiences at home. We work in partnership with parents, carers and other settings to provide the best possible start at Trottiscliffe Church of England Primary School, ensuring each individual reaches their full potential from their various starting points.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Children follow the rigorous and highly successful Little Wandle phonics scheme faithfully so that they will meet good outcomes for reading. We also use multiple high-quality texts alongside children’s interests to engage children’s imaginations and ideas further. New vocabulary and concepts are taught through shared reading sessions and will excite and engage all learners, this includes staff modelling Standard English and asking high quality questions in addition to interactive story telling sessions.
Each child has a reading diary and a phonetically decodable book based on their current phonics knowledge, which they practice reading to an adult regularly while at school. The children are given books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers. We encourage parents to listen to their child read daily and children are also given high quality texts to borrow from the library which they are encouraged to read at home with their parents and carers.
Our mathematics in Reception focuses on studying key skills of number, calculation and pattern and shape so that pupils develop deep understanding and the acquisition of mathematical language. We have daily ‘magic maths’ sessions to teach new skills, develop fluency, revisit key concepts and address misconceptions. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives, songs and rhymes, and pictorial structures and representations which can then be rehearsed applied and recorded within their own child-led exploration. These early mathematical experiences are carefully designed to help pupils remember the content they have been taught and to support them with integrating their new knowledge across the breadth of their experiences and into larger concepts. High quality learning environments and meaningful interactions with adults, support children in developing mathematical thinking and discussion, building solid foundations for future learning.
By focusing on individual children and their specific interests, learning and needs each week, as well as through observations, professional discussions, quality interactions, strong relationships and assessments, we are able to identify areas of need and next developmental steps, when appropriate, ensuring that good progress is made by all of our children. During children’s ‘focus child’ weeks, practitioner observations, interactions and the outcomes of teachable moments are recorded and contribute to the child’s ‘Special Book’ which is part of how we monitor the children’s developmental learning journeys. This approach supports children to develop as purposeful, calm, confident and independent learners. Our highly skilled teams support children to meet their next steps and drive their innate desire to learn forwards.
We regularly assess where the children are, using our online assessment platform and then ensure that our planning, adult interaction and learning environment; including continuous provision, support children to reach their next steps. We will include interventions for groups or individuals if and when necessary, supporting children to ‘keep up,’ rather than fall behind.
Prior to children starting, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journey’s to gain an understanding of the whole child and where they are at. During the first half term in Reception, all staff use ongoing assessments, observations and conversations with the child to develop a baseline assessment. This identifies each individual’s starting points in all areas so we can plan experiences to ensure progress. The RBA (Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment) assessment is also carried out. This 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 KS2.
Formal assessments, along with all ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children and excessive paper work. 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.
Phonic assessments are carried out every half term to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ where possible.
In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where teacher judge whether the child has met each of the 17 ELG’s. 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 to lay strong foundations for children’s future learning and through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of areas of learning – both prime and specific - children leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey as scientists, historians, artists and geographers.
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, phonics, and mathematics. The characteristics of effective learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations of children.
At the beginning of their first year in school, we offer children and parents and carers the opportunity to meet one another and spend time in their new environment through a teddy bears picnic, and stay and play sessions. We talk with children’s previous settings and key persons and meet regularly with parents and carers through parent meetings and parent meetings to ensure that children’s transition into school and through the EYFS is happy, allowing them to reach their potential with the support needed.
Throughout their time in EYFS, the children develop a sense of belonging to our school community, ready to transition to year 1 the following academic year. They have the confidence and skills to make decisions and self-evaluate, make connections and become lifelong learners. We prepare children for Year 1 with their new teacher coming to meet them during their play, visits to their new class, and story times with their new classmates. We are currently developing our provision within Year One to further support children’s transition into their new year group. We aim to support the transition for all children.
Continuous Professional Development
Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the EYFS leader ensure staff develop good subject knowledge and are effectively supported. The EYFS leader ensures that staff receive CPD specific to Early Years to further develop their practice. We tailor our staff CPD to be early years specific and focus on agreed areas of need within our team so that we can mutually support one another. CPD may take place in the form of training, webinars, book reading, podcasts and articles. For example, we offer CPD on effective observations, in order to understand where pupils are, and their ‘next steps,’ for learning.
We strive to ensure that our children’s progress across the EYFS curriculum is good from their varied starting points. Class teachers use observations to make formative assessments which inform future planning and ensure that all children build on their current knowledge and skills at a good pace. This information is tracked on Target Tracker, using Birth to five Matters, enabling us to measure the percentage of pupils achieving age related expectations throughout the academic year, and put supportive interventions in place if and when needed. This ensures that rates of progress are at least good for all children, including vulnerable groups such as those with SEND, EAL, disadvantaged or summer born children. We use this information on a weekly basis to plan learning experiences and next steps so that knowledge and skills are built cumulatively.
During each assessment window, three times a year, teachers update the progress children have made onto our online assessment tracker which allows us to assess the impact of teaching and evaluate whether it has been enough. Evidence of children’s learning including observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents are kept in paper ‘learning journals’ which children use to reflect on their progress through pupil voice. Our assessment judgements have been moderated both in school and externally with local schools.
We ensure to provide enriched play-based exploration opportunities alongside the rigour of assessment and teaching the children have as they move through the early years – a rich diet of balanced learning experiences is undoubtedly the best way to develop happy, curious children.
As well as through data, the impact of our curriculum will also be measured by how effectively it helps our pupils develop into well rounded, resilient and motivated individuals who embody our school values and carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners.