Early Years Foundation Stage
EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE
The current practice in EYFS at Marsh Hill has a balance of adult-led and child-initiated learning through planned play-based activities. The two classes have a free-flow unit with the opportunity to close the concertina doors, if necessary, pupils have access to the outside area all day.
At the start of each day, children have an activity to complete until the register is taken, such as writing their phonic sounds, name writing, writing numbers, completing number calculations, writing activity, practising CEW or reading a book.
Each morning starts with a phonics session which is ability grouped, following on from this is a whole class Literacy session. The teacher delivers a whole class writing session supported by a teaching assistant, there are then planned small group adult led writing sessions inside. There are always two practitioners inside delivering the small group adult led activity linked to the writing whole class session and two practitioners outside supporting and facilitating child-initiated learning through interaction, questioning and observations.
After snack time, the teacher delivers a whole class maths session supported by a teaching assistant, this is then followed by planned small group adult led maths sessions inside. There are always two practitioners inside delivering the small group adult led activity linked to the maths whole class session and two practitioners outside supporting and facilitating child-initiated learning through interaction, questioning and observations.
Focus children are observed in the mornings by the practitioners facilitating and interacting with the child-initiated activities. The observations are recorded on the school tracking system, they support teacher assessments and identify next steps.
Reading skills are taught before lunch, each class is split into smaller ability groups, the groups are timetabled to read with practitioners or access independent reading activities across the week. Reading books match their phonic ability to support and challenge word reading, practitioners ensure questions are directed to gain an understanding of comprehension skills.
The afternoon starts with a whole class carpet session linked to the current topic followed by an adult led activity linked to it. Practitioners facilitate planned activities that are linked to either Understanding the World or Expressive Arts and Design. One practitioner's role is to support and facilitate outdoor learning through sustained shared questioning and high quality interaction. One practitioner's role is to facilitate and observe identified children from key person groups, with a specific focus linked to their learning journeys.
The continuous provision for both indoor and outdoor is planned for weekly, the activities link to writing, maths, topic and where appropriate, prior learning to ensure a full understanding.
Drawing Club is taught to the whole class as an additional writing and oracy intervention. After the whole class input, a teacher then works with a small group on a daily basis to further develop writing and oracy skills.
Additional sessions that take place across the week are Music, PSHE and PE, these are delivered to the whole class and supported by a teaching assistant.
To build strong relationships with all of our families and to value their knowledge of their child’s development, each child is a Focus Child across each term. Each Focus Child has the opportunity to take a rucksack home with two reading books and information inviting the family to share experiences and special events taking place at home. The family is asked to then email photos of these special events that they would like to share with school to the class email address. There are then three sessions across the week (in the afternoon) where the children present their photos to their class and talk about each photo, the class have the opportunity to ask questions. This is to develop links with and to encourage parental involvement but also to develop the communication and language skills of our children.
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 Marsh Hill Primary School, ensuring each individual reaches their full potential from their various starting points. Our curriculum has a focus on curriculum goals to enable children to develop lifelong skills. Our enabling environments and warm, skilful 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. We follow children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school. We regard every child as unique. We regard each child as constantly learning and that each child can become resilient, capable, confident, self-assured. By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children 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.
Our bespoke curriculum follows the Early Years Statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage and uses Development Matters to underpin the teaching and learning.
Each half term, EYFS staff introduce a new theme to provide inspiration for learning, whilst providing the flexibility for children to follow their own interests and ideas. Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching during the day; it changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children. The directed teaching sessions are followed by small focused group work. 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. 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 the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas. We follow a topic approach, which is mainly adult led; but the topic does not limit the children’s learning in the activities and experiences provided in our continuous provision although topic enhancements may be added. We have weekly continuous provision plans, which outline the enhancements for specific areas.
Implicit challenge throughout our environment is achieved by:
· Structuring and resourcing the environment linked directly to summative assessment and differentiating / levelling the provision to reflect the children’s current development.
· Providing ambiguity. We are developing our open ended resources and experiences are provided that encourage children to explore and investigate.
· Providing adult prompts or asking specific children to carry out a particular task (informal challenge).
The Importance of Play:
Each area of learning is implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led, adult directed and child-initiated activity. We regard play as essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. We strongly believe that children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play that is guided by adults. We make ongoing judgements about the balance between activities led by children, and activities led or guided by adults. As children progress through the year this balance gradually shifts towards more activities led by adults and direct teaching, to help children prepare for more formal learning, ready for Year 1.
How we Provide for a Thinking Environment / Characteristics of Effective Learning:
Our stimulating environment offers high quality provision consisting of small world, role play, construction, outdoor, malleable materials – playdough, water, sand, model making, painting, mud kitchen, den building (weather permitting) bikes, outdoor resources. Mark making is incorporated in every area. The environment is fluid. In planning and guiding children’s activities we reflect on the different ways that children learn. These underpin our provision where the three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are taken into account.
• Playing and exploring: Our environment allows children to play freely but also supports learning through implicit and explicit challenge. Opportunities for exploring are in every area of our provision. Resources that encourage creativity that are ambiguous are: planks, wooden bricks, boxes, den building materials – blankets, sheets, pegs.
• Active learning: We encourage children to be active learners by creating an environment that allows them to follow their interests. We believe high-level attainment comes from high-level engagement and that learning should be process (skill) driven rather than outcome driven. Engagement in the process ensures the knowledge is more likely to stick.
• Creating and thinking critically: We give many opportunities to problem solve and work things out supported by an adult who scaffolds and models thinking. We also provide opportunities for children to investigate and problem solve independently.
We follow a bespoke phonics programme that is based on the Letters and Sounds programme to ensure consistency across the school. In Reception, Phase1 is consolidated during baseline and then children are introduced to Phase 2 and 3 where they will develop GPC, segmenting, and blending skills to decode words. During the Summer term, children may move on to Phase 4 if they are ready. Children are encouraged to read at home and are listened to regularly in school. They 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. 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 Reception, we follow the White Rose Maths Scheme of work. High quality learning environments and meaningful interactions with adults, support children in developing mathematical thinking and discussion. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives and pictorial structures and representations, which are then rehearsed, applied and recorded within their own child-led exploration.
Our wider curriculum is taught through the learning areas; ‘Understanding the World’ and ‘Expressive Arts and Design.’ EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s feed into the National Curriculum through our robust Curriculum Map planning and CPD opportunities. In reverse, colleagues throughout the school are also aware of the key ELG’s that link to each foundation subject and the progression of the subject. 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.
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. In addition, we have an increasing number of children on the SEND register, where bespoke plans have identified that learning may need to take place away from the classroom due to sensory needs. Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the EYFS leader ensure staff develop good subject knowledge. The EYFS leader ensures staff receive CPD specific to Early Years to develop their practice.
Baseline: Prior to children starting, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents at Home Visits, previous settings and read previous learning journey’s to gain an understanding of the whole child and where they are at. During the first few weeks 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) is also carried out during this time. This assessment 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.
Ongoing Observation: Each child is a ‘Focus Child’ three times a year, all practitioners observe the focus children in all areas of learning across the week. Focus Children take a class camera home to take photos of something special they want to share with the class and staff. This encourages and develops Communication and Language skills. As well as Focus Child observations, observations of other children are recorded alongside to capture the wow moments. All ongoing observations are used to inform 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. Some observations are uploaded using Target Tracker. Assessments in all areas of learning are completed three times per year (in addition to Baseline) and shared with parents, whereby the Class Teacher updates the progress children have made. In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where practitioners 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.
The impact of the EYFS curriculum is reflected in having well rounded, confident, happy children prepared for Year 1. We measure progress and children’s learning across the year through summative and formative assessment which are based on the teacher’s knowledge of the child, their online learning journeys, photographs and videos recorded on Target Tracker. 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. We aim to meet, if not exceed the National and Local Authority data for children achieving a good level of development. Most of our children make more than expected steps progress from their starting points.
The Early Years provision features in all areas of the School Development Plan and has a rigorous plan for development each year. This is monitored and evaluated by the EYFS Lead/Deputy Head Teacher and Headteacher.
Assessment at the start of the Reception year: Reception Baseline Assessment
Within the first 6 weeks of starting reception, your child will be participating in the reception baseline assessment (RBA). The purpose of the assessment is to provide the starting point for a new measure that will help parents understand how well schools support their pupils to progress between reception and year 6.
Please click here to access a document that will provide further information.
Assessment at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage: EYFS Profile