Early Years Foundation Stage
In our Reception class at Stokenham Area Primary School we intend that our ambitious and inclusive environment educates all the children in knowledge, skills and understanding in a logical progression, to be effective, inquisitive, curious, independent learners and influence their wider thinking across all areas of learning.
We endeavour to give the children the skills and knowledge they need for future success i.e. giving each child the best start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their full potential and achieve future success. We are passionate about creating opportunities for children to communicate more easily through developing language and communication skills and specifically teaching vocabulary. We wish our children to believe in themselves and their abilities and capabilities, to belong to the school learning community and the wider community and to become successful in their academic career and beyond.
Our enabling environments and warm, high quality 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 periods of play and sustained thinking with the adult interacting in a way that brings something to the child’s play. Our Early Years curriculum has been planned as the first stage of our whole school curriculum and supports children with the transition into Key Stage 1. We provide experiences which create opportunities for children to develop the knowledge, skills and vocabulary they will need on their Key Stage 1 journey. Our curriculum is balanced so that teachers are able to follow children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school. 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 curriculum has been designed to enable children to succeed through a shared understanding of the over-arching topic that is provided by our ‘Book Hook’. In addition, our Book Hook provides opportunities for developing oracy. At Stokenham Area Primary School, we recognise that oracy not only improves academic outcomes, but is a life skill to ensure success beyond school, in life and future employment. Oracy develops children’s thinking and understanding, which in turn promotes self-confidence, resilience and empathy which support the child’s well-being.
We are passionate that teaching for mastery starts in Early Years. We believe in giving all pupils access to equitable classrooms; classrooms where pupils can all participate and be influential, and classrooms where pupils are encouraged and supported to develop a deep connected and sustained understanding of the learning and development being explored. This practice ensures that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind.
We are fortunate at Stokenham Area Primary School to be part of the South Hams Federation. This allows us to work closely with other practitioners to plan for the best learning environment for our Reception children and develop best practice. We also work closely alongside parents and/or carers as we know a positive and prosperous relationship between school and parents helps to provide a supportive basis for lifelong learning playing a crucial role in children's education. At Stokenham Area Primary School we adopt an open door policy where parents are warmly encouraged to communicate with staff when they drop off or collect their children from school. Parents receive planning letters to inform them of what their child is learning each term and to explain how they can support this at home, in addition to information about the activities and experiences the children have taken part in being shared regularly via Tapestry. Parents enjoy coming to look at their children’s books and the class learning journey floor book, and this allows children to share and articulate their learning and successes with their parents.
As a school and federation, we have developed our understanding and use of a variety of pedagogical approaches that focus on how children learn. We believe that these approaches enhance and develop our approach to teaching. We are using the 10 principles of Instruction (Rosenshine) to underpin our planning; specifically carefully planning opportunities for retrieval through the use of carefully scaffolded questioning. We understand that with retrieval practice, regularly visiting areas already learnt before, helps to connect new ideas to ones that are already known.
Pedagogy at Stokenham Area Primary school focuses on breaking down learning into small steps and utilising teaching for mastery techniques such as: carefully chosen examples and representations to draw out the structure and essence of the concept; discussion in the form of mix ability pairs, talk partners and whole class discussion; mini plenaries; small steps providing sufficient scaffold for all pupils to access; precision in the use of new vocabulary to further develop understanding as well as working alongside the interests and needs of the children in our cohort. Current research on retrieval practice and cognitive load theory are at the forefront of our planning process in these areas.
Themes for 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. These themes are introduced through a ‘Book Hook’ that introduces new language, gives a shared experience for all children to engage with and promotes oracy through retelling and re-enacting.
Adult led and child initiated activities
Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is structured so that children have directed teaching during the day. This helps children to acquire the knowledge and skills that are then applied independently in the provision. Enhancements are in place in the provision that support or extend the learning or to prompt conversation. The timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children and readiness for transition into Key Stage 1. These 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 continuous provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas.
Reading and Phonics
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and our aim is to encourage a love of reading right from the start. In EYFS we vote for our favourite books which allows the children time to revisit their favourites time and again, becoming familiar with the story structure and vocabulary. Our curriculum is centred around high quality texts which are ‘Book Hooks’. 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 and comprehension. These books 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. There is cohesion and consistency with our approach to align with the whole school Literacy Curriculum ‘Texts That Teach’ that is followed from Years 1-6.
We follow the DfE accredited Little Wandle phonics programme to ensure consistency across the school. In Reception, children quickly develop grapheme phoneme correspondence and segmenting and blending skills to decode words. They take part in three reading sessions a week where there is a different focus in each session. In session 1 the focus is on decoding and recognition of tricky words. In session 2 the teacher focuses on developing fluency and prosody (expression) and finally we focus on comprehension skills – answering questions about the text. For all these sessions, the children are grouped so that they are reading books with at least 90% fluency so that the cognitive load is reduced and they are able to focus on applying their skills. Children are encouraged to read at home. They are assigned books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers. In addition, we send home a high-quality picture book that is designed to be shared and develop a love of stories and reading.
In Reception, we follow the South Hams Curriculum which is divided into units of work based on the NCETM Mastering Number and Shape, Space and Measures. 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. Children in Reception have daily, whole class maths inputs to develop fluency, revisit key concepts and address misconceptions. Children are encouraged to explore numbers 0-20 in a wide range of contexts to develop a deeper understanding.
The Wider Curriculum
Our wider curriculum is taught through a mix of taught sessions and child initiated activities. We have planned our curriculum using the Key Stage 1 curriculum areas as subheadings to ensure there is coverage of all aspects of each EYFS area. This also helps all staff to have a good understanding of how the EYFS feeds into the National Curriculum and the progression of the subject through our robust planning. Objectives are then taken from our curriculum plan and contextualised to create exciting, purposeful and meaningful activities that are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. For example, building a boat for their favourite toy to travel to Antarctica enables them to think like a ‘Scientist’ and a ‘Geographer’ as they explore a range of materials , consider what they will need to pack in the boat to survive the weather conditions and test out their own ideas. Building further on our oracy focus, children will be encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology in foundation subjects, and such vocabulary will be modelled, both verbally and orally, by supporting practitioners. Tier 2 vocabulary is displayed in all areas and Tier 3 vocabulary will change weekly to support the learning in our small group scaffolding sessions. 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 deeper understanding and need further challenge. This includes, for example, sessions for developing speech and language, social skills, fine motor skills, phonics, and mathematics.
Staff Professional Development
Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the EYFS leader ensure that staff training needs are identified and the EYFS leader ensures staff receive CPD specific to Early Years to develop their practice. For example, we offer CPD on effective interactions and continuous provision, in order to understand how to move pupils on through their play. Our federation EYFS team meet regularly and share good practice and to moderate.
Where children are working significantly below the expected development milestones of the EYFSP, scaffolding and targeted work takes place on a daily basis. These activities are planned by the teacher in discussion and collaboration with the SENDCO, parents and the TA working within Reception. In Reception where extra support is needed teachers and teaching assistants follow a bespoke evidence informed intervention as well as plan opportunities to further the development and progress of these pupils during their independent learning time.
Each child with specific SEND difficulties will have targets that are agreed and monitored every half term to ensure progression.
Prior to children starting school, 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 their individual starting points. Staff regularly visit the on-site preschool settings to develop positive relationships and identify any additional needs which may need additional support or enhanced transitions. 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 and enhancements to ensure progress. The RBA (Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment) 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. Language Link and Speech Link evidence-based assessments inform us if a child is at expected for their age or requires intervention to develop their language and communication skills.
How do we know what pupils have learnt?
Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND, so we spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning. This is achieved through talking to children, looking at their work, observing their learning experiences and analysing data and progress by year group, class, groups and individuals. Every member of staff uses ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress. 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, teachers update the progress children have made and our Senior Leadership team hold pupil progress meetings. This allows us to assess the impact of teaching and evaluate whether it has been enough. Evidence of children’s learning includes observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents.
The most effective way to find out about a child’s learning journey will be to talk them. Through conversations with pupils we are also able to understand how they learn and if they are able to connect prior learning to the learning they are undertaking.
Phonic assessments are carried out using the Little Wandle phonics tracker 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. Assessments in all other areas are completed three times per year and discussed with the SLT in pupil progress meetings. In Summer Term 2, the EYFS Profile is completed where teachers 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.
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.