The purpose of this policy is to outline how we ensure the core values (Aspiration, Curiosity, Opportunity, Respect and Resilience, Nurture) are at the centre of our provision for Foundation Stage pupils. It is a guide for parents, staff and the wider community. We believe that the excellence in the Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception classes) will lead to excellence within the school as a whole. As such our aims for EYFS are;
This policy aims to ensure:
- To make the child's first experiences of school safe, happy, positive and fun
- To ensure breadth of balance in the curriculum through carefully planned adult input and sensitive interaction using the Educational Programmes as a guide for our curriculum
- To provide a curriculum firmly based on active/investigative learning to meet the needs of the individual child
- Quality and consistency in teaching and learning so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind
- To foster love of learning, enquiring minds and the ability to discuss, adapt and negotiate
- To develop children’s imagination and ability to express ideas and feelings in a variety of ways
- To provide challenge and support for all
- To encourage parents to become partners with the school in the education of their children
- To develop self-control and respect for the feelings, needs, culture and abilities of others
- To provide secure foundations for future learning and promote continuous improvement for all
- To be aware of the child’s needs and allow them to initiate some of their own learning
- Every child is included and supported through equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice
This policy is based on requirements set out in the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) that applies from September 2021.
Structure of the EYFS
The Foundation Stage comprises one Reception Class known as FS2 and one nursery class known as FS1. Nursery places are offered to children who are aged 3 years or over with three entry points in the year – September, January and April. We offer both full-time and part-time nursery places. There are 26 places in the nursery with a fully qualified teacher and one full-time higher-level teaching assistant. In addition to that we have one 30 place Reception class taught by a fully qualified teacher with support from a teaching assistant.
Nursery and Reception have a shared indoor and outdoor area. The EYFS team work together to plan appropriate learning experiences and to ensure progression and challenge for all pupils during their time in Foundation Stage.
- Beginning of the week (15 hours funded)
Mon 8.45am – Wed 11.30am
- End of the week
Wed 1.15pm – Fri 3.10pm
- Full time (30 hours)
Mon 8.45am – Fri 1.35pm (This can be extended to 3.10pm at an additional top up cost)
At Outwood Primary School we follow the statutory framework and the non-statutory guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage profile (Development Matters). The Early Years Foundation Stage framework sets out the curriculum areas as follows:
Prime areas of learning:
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Physical development
- Communication and language
Specific areas of learning:
- Knowledge and understanding of the world
- Expressive arts and design
The early years curriculum is underpinned by four guiding principles:
- Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
- Children learn to be strong and independent throughpositive relationships.
- Children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.
- Importance oflearning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates.
At the heart of the early years foundation stage curriculum is the characteristics of effective learning. These focus on how children learn and enable us to ensure we provide opportunities to develop these essential skills for learning in young children.
The characteristics of effective learning 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
During the Early Years Foundation Stage, “Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children with all they need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.” Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, Department for Education, 2012
Our intent is to provide children with the opportunity to explore, be independent and curious learners in a safe and nurturing, inclusive environment. This ensures all children have the best possible start to their education. Our stimulating indoor and outdoor environment promotes and stretches the ability of learners to imagine, collaborate, question and empower the children to be in control of their learning. This enables our children to become resilient to failure and curious with high levels of wellbeing and involvement.
- Our EYFS curriculum is broken down into six themes across the year. We expose the children to a range of learning opportunities within each theme. Themes cover general interests of the children eg. Families in our ‘All About Me’ theme, transport in our ‘Ticket to Ride’ theme etc.
- Balanced with this is our main teaching approach of ‘In the Moment Planning’ where we respond directly to the children’s needs and interests. Therefore, our themes and planning can directly change based on the children in the moment!
- We value providing children with ‘hands on’ learning opportunities using concrete and real-life resources that they can explore and investigate. Learning through high-quality play experiences are fundamental to our curriculum.
- We start each theme off with a stunning start and end with a fabulous
- We celebrate the children's learning in ‘Our Learning Journey’ big books finding out what the children know and what they want to find out. This is a display of the children’s learning journey over a half term.
- We value children's interests and are flexible in our curriculum to accommodate child led learning that may be different from the overall topic this is known as our ‘In the Moment Planning’ approach.
- We use the outdoor environment in all weathers! We encourage children to get muddy, explore nature and jump in puddles. The outdoor environment is carefully planned to ensure that all learning experiences we provide indoors can be replicated on a larger scale outdoors.
- Every child's learning is celebrated through their own individual learning journey books. We use a focus child approach to observe each child in depth once every half-term. This is displayed in their learning journey book. In addition to this children’s other work created through independent choice, focused activities and WOW moments can be recorded here Children have access to these books at all times.
- Other areas of learning are recorded on Tapestry solely demonstrating a child’s independent learning journey. Parents are encouraged to add to this learning journey with their home access.
- We recognise the importance of involving parents and carers in their children's education. We encourage them to come into school and work alongside their child during play and stay sessions and value their observations of their children's learning and development. We also invite children to take part in our focus child approach which allows us to identify children’s needs and interests at home.
- Our EYFS environment promotes calm, collaborative learning through having a natural environment and carefully planned spaces for play.
- Children have an enthusiasm and passion for learning. They develop exciting memories of the learning experiences they have had in early years.
- All children are equipped for the next stage of their learning.
- By the end of the EYFS, the children have reached a good level of development across all curriculum areas but especially in communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, mathematics and literacy.
Staff plan activities and experiences for children that enable children to develop and learn effectively. In order to do this, staff working with the youngest children are expected to focus strongly on the 3 prime areas.
Staff also consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care, and use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience. Where a child may have a special educational need or disability, staff consider whether specialist support is required, linking with relevant services from other agencies, where appropriate.
In planning and guiding children’s activities, staff reflect on the different ways that children learn and include these in their practice.
Long Term Planning
The whole school plan outlines the topics to be taught throughout each year in the EYFS. The topics are posed to children as a general theme which are then broken down into each area of development. This ensures coverage of objectives outlined in Development Matters.
Medium Term Planning
The medium-term plan is a series of objectives linked with the half termly Development Matters objectives outlined in the long-term plan. An outline of the key learning objectives is given for each of the areas of learning along with any enhancements such as continuous provision, visits/visitors, special resources, special events and displays. This will also include an overview of the directed tasks/enhancements that will be used for each area of learning.
Short Term Planning
Weekly planning is provisionally carried out by all members of the Early Years team and follows the objectives laid out in the medium-term planning, as well as objectives identified during observations of play. Whole class sessions, focused tasks and independent activities/enhancements are outlined along with the role of any other adult working within the room (including TA’s). Reference is made to specific children with regard to their personal next steps and to cater for interests identified during continuous provision. In Reception class there will also be additional planning for Read, Write Inc and Mathematics (NCTEM AXIS).
“Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term that covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment adults provide and the attention given to the physical environment, as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations.” Ofsted September 2019
Each area of learning and development is implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities. Staff respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction.
As children grow older, and as their development allows, the balance gradually shifts towards more adult-led activities to help children prepare for more formal learning, ready for year 1.
Principles/Strategies for Teaching:
- It is important that the learning and teaching reflects the understanding that children within the Foundation Stage should be given uninterrupted time to work in depth. This means the constraints of assemblies and playtimes are mostly taken away.
- There should be a balance between adult–led and child-initiated learning.
- The structure of the day/half day should include a carpet session at the beginning and end of the day, for scene setting and then reflection. There should also be focus activities directed by an adult (indoors or out) and continuous provision activities that are enhanced to focus learning.
- During focus sessions learning intentions are made clear to the children with an idea of how they can be successful. Children should also understand what is ‘good learning’ when in continuous provision. Children are given opportunities to share their work and for themselves, their peers and their teacher to say what is good about it and give some suggestions for improvement.
- To encourage children to become active, confident learners, teachers should plan for children to learn in a variety of different ways. For example; a multi-sensory approach, through creative and imaginative play and through conversation and questioning.
- Throughout directed teaching time, teachers and teaching assistants should utilise collaborative approaches structures to ensure all are actively engaged in their learning. Where possible teachers and teaching assistants encourage peer support to extend the learning of the more able and give support and guidance to the less able.
- Outdoor learning is essential in engaging and motivating children and provides invaluable learning opportunities that cannot be provided indoors. One member of staff (from each year group) should be outdoors to facilitate learning for the majority of the day. When one member of staff is focusing with a group the other member of staff needs to be in CP and be responsible for ensuring children’s safety. If a member of staff is out on their own there should not be a focus task unless all children are involved.
- Staff are encouraged to play with and model the use of equipment in the different areas inside and out. This should be a mix of adult and child-initiated activities but not focused/observed sessions.
- The use of continuous provision areas for focused activities is encouraged.
- Parents should be involved in the education and progress of their children. Parents are encouraged to email photographs and ‘leaps of learning’ and ‘wow’ moments from home on a regular basis. Staff provide parents with newsletters to inform them of the learning taking place and update the school website with this information. Parents are invited in for regular stay and play sessions as well as after their child’s focus session to discuss shared next steps.
- Next steps for individuals and groups should be identified informally on a daily basis and addressed in the moment to move learning on. Where this is not possible a note should be made and placed on the observation cycle wall and efforts should be made to work with the child on this next step over a longer period of time.
- Key teaching words - Modelling ∙ Instructing ∙ Modelling language ∙ Showing ∙ Explaining ∙ Demonstrating ∙ Exploring ideas ∙ Encouraging ∙ Pondering ∙ Recalling ∙ Providing a narrative for what they are doing ∙ Facilitating ∙ Setting challenges ∙ Suggesting
For all children to access the full curriculum the work will be presented in a variety of ways allowing the needs of all children to be met, but the main focus will be on active investigative learning which allows children to access it at their own level. Learning in the Foundation stage is personalised and so it is expected that staff are aware of the needs of all children and allow them to have appropriate challenges in all areas of the curriculum.
Mathematics and Literacy Skills
Early Literacy and Mathematics skills are seen as essential foundations on which to build future learning and allow children to access all other areas of the curriculum. Greater emphasis is therefore put on them, particularly in Reception. There will always be a literacy and a mathematics focus each day, which may be the whole class and/or a focus group.
- Read Write Inc (RWI), a synthetic phonics program, is taught daily in Reception and Nursery.
- Each child should be involved in a guided reading as the RWI scheme develops.
- Book sharing should form part of the daily timetable.
- Children should listen to/join in with stories and rhymes on a daily basis.
- There should be opportunities to read and write in most areas of the classroom and the outdoor area.
- All children should have the opportunity to do directed writing or mark making at least once a week.
- Each half-term the children are taught writing through a talk for writing structure which encompasses story immersion through role play, drama, puppets and small world play. During this writing structure the children are given numerous opportunities to engage in writing opportunities linked to the key text as well as the opportunity to innovate and independently apply new skills.
- Drama is a key part of bringing Literacy to life. Teachers use ‘The Magic Story Box’ Approach to bring stories to life.
- All children should have a daily carpet session with a mathematics focus.
- Reception children should be involved in a small group focused activity at least once a week.
- Mathematical development should be catered for both inside and outside through open ended resources and mathematical resources in all areas of continuous provision.
- Maths should always be practical and involve the children exploring concepts with concrete resources. When appropriate pictorial and abstract representations should be used alongside concrete resources.
- Reception will follow the NCTEM Axis and White Rose scheme to guide planning. Nursery will use ideas from White Rose scheme.
‘Focus Child’ and ‘In the Moment Planning’ Approaches to Teaching
The cycle of observation, assessment, planning, teaching, observation is carried out on a moment-by-moment basis. We have focus children each week (approximately 10% of the group). Some interactions and activities that occur are recorded when the cycle is complete. These records are in the ‘learning journeys’ for the focus children and in ‘the big book’ for activities in which a group have become involved. We work in this way because ...
“Babies and young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week. It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference. By using this cycle on a moment-by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child’s thinking (assessment), and always ready to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children’s well-being and learning (planning for the next moment).” From National Standards document Learning, Playing and Interacting P.22 - 23.
We have focus children NOT focus activities. The adult goes to the child. The child is NOT called to come to the adult. We work this way because high level involvement occurs in child-initiated activity. We use the observation cycle on a moment by moment basis. The focus children are given extra attention, but all the children are busy and learning all the time. The focus notes are a record of activities that have occurred. It is particularly important that the adults’ input is recorded. The symbol “T” indicates “adult”. Adult input (teaching) is highlighted in yellow:- “T suggests … encourages …models …asks … ponders …helps … offers resources ... etc.” In addition, “WOW” moments are recorded for all children as and when they occur. The ‘WOW’ moment recordings are observations of learning and development that evidence an individual child’s progress in a particular area of the curriculum. These will be recorded on Tapestry.
At Outwood Primary School, ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development processes. Staff observe pupils to identify their level of achievement, interests and learning styles. These observations are used to shape future planning. Staff also take into account observations shared by parents and/or carers.
The main way this is carried out is through the ‘Focus Child’ approach and ‘In the moment planning’
Each half-term every child will be a focus child. They will have an intense focus on them where practitioners will spend extra time with them, developing their play, knowledge and skills. We will work on their next steps and promote positive links with parents. We will go to the child in their play, not call them away from their play. The focus child approach is not a checklist, it is an opportunity to give each child high quality practitioner interactions and time. During time spent with the child we will assess where they are, plan and teach in response to those assessments. This is done through an approach called ‘in the moment planning’ where we respond to what the children need and are interested in. Parents will have an opportunity to be involved in this process.
Within the first 6 weeks that a child starts reception, staff will administer the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA).
At the end of the EYFS, staff complete the EYFS profile for each child. Pupils are assessed against the 17 early learning goals, indicating whether they are:
- Meeting expected levels of development
- Not yet reaching expected levels (‘emerging’)
The profile reflects ongoing observations, and discussions with parents and/or carers. The results of the profile are shared with parents and/or carers for their child.
The profile is moderated internally (referring to the Development Matters guidance) and in partnership with other local schools, to ensure consistent assessment judgements. EYFS profile data is submitted to the local authority.
In addition to the assessments outlined above, children are regularly assessed using the speech and language programme called Wellcom to support children with their speaking, listening and understanding needs. Additionally, the Reading Leader will also assess children with Read Write Inc assessments to ensure they are correctly grouped for their phonics ability. As the beginning of Reception, the children start within the same group.
All assessments carried out are used to inform planning to allow each child to progress appropriately. There will be four formal assessment points in the school year where children will be recorded as emerging, developing or secure in each of the seven areas of learning.
The classrooms are carefully planned and organised into areas of continuous provision where the children can work independently accessing materials that have been organised in an attractive and stimulating way. Full use is made of the space both indoors and outdoors and across FS1 and FS2. However, it is also important that each classroom has space somewhere within it where the whole class can be together for such things as story. The areas of provision may vary depending on the needs of the children and the topic being taught, but you would expect to see areas dedicated to;
- Role play - Home corner and themed
- Construction - Small and large
- Reading - general and themed
- Dough/malleable materials
- Speaking and listening
- Free-flow snack area
The outdoor area is not intended to be a replica of what is inside but must reflect the same areas of learning so that there is continuity. The areas outside are set up each morning in a designated area and the resources set up may vary over the week depending on the focus and children’s interests. The following areas are planned for and resourced in the same way as indoors, using ‘real life’ equipment where possible;
- Performance area
- Water area
- Sand area
- Role play area
- Quiet area
- Reading area
- Physical area
- Investigation area
- Construction/loose parts area
Resources for the Early Years are stored within the adjoining corridor and shared stock cupboards. Shared resources for the outdoors are stored in the outdoor sheds and the Teaching Assistants take responsibility for their storage and accessibility.
We collect Foundation Stage fund, a voluntary contribution of £5 a half term. This money is collected and stored away in a lock box. It can then be used for items that are considered additional to their curriculum entitlement as well as special snack and resources.
School allocates an Early Years Budget which is managed by the co-ordinator. Staff are able to put in bids for this money throughout the year.
Children are given numerous opportunities on a daily basis to use ICT to enhance their own learning and keep up with the ever-changing technological world. The children are provided with child friendly ICT resources during continuous provision such as remote-controlled cars, bee bots and the interactive whiteboard. They are provided with opportunities to use Ipads, cameras, spheros, VR headsets (age appropriate) through adult supervised activities. Before any ICT equipment is used online children are reminded of E-safety rules. An E-safety display is always up in the EYFS classrooms.
Working with parents
We recognise that children learn and develop well when there is a strong partnership between staff and parents and/or carers.
Parents and/or carers are kept up to date with their child’s progress and development at regular intervals. These include:
- Stay and plays
- Next step meetings after the ‘Focus Child’ approach
- Parents’ Evenings
- Tapestry/Class Dojo
- The EYFS Profile
- End of year reports
Parents are actively encouraged to work alongside staff in the EYFS, this is planned for through regular events.