This statement guides the principles, organisation and provision for learning and teaching in the school’s Foundation Stage classrooms.
In our school we view the foundation years (3-5 year olds) as a basis for all future learning.
How young children learn
“Young children learn by doing. Knowledge is not something that is given to children as though they were empty vessels to be filled. Children acquire knowledge about the physical and social worlds in which they live through playful interaction with objects and people. They are motivated by their own desire to make sense of their world. For children to understand fully and remember what they have learned the information must be meaningful to the child in context of the child's experience and development.” (Bredekamp ed. 1990)
The Early Years Curriculum
Our Early Years Curriculum is based on the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (2012) and is planned to lead smoothly into the National Curriculum at KS1 in a way in which is relevant and meaningful to all children.
Organisation of classes
Our Foundation Stage is divided into nursery and reception classes. Our nursery classes have daily 3 hour morning and afternoon sessions. Each class has 33 children aged between 3 to 4 years with an adult ratio of 1 to 11 (1 qualified teacher and 2 qualified nursery nurses). There are three Reception classes with 30 children each, for children aged between 4 and 5 years old with one qualified teacher always present, and one additional qualified nursery nurse supports the class every morning and some afternoons.
The learning environment
We value a learning environment both inside and outside the classroom, which is carefully organised to enable children to develop and demonstrate characteristics of effective learning. Children are given free access to the outdoor learning spaces whenever they are supervised by a member of staff. Children need to be supported in access to the outdoors by coming to school with appropriate clothing, especially during inclement weather. Adults support children in playing and exploring, active learning and developing creativity and critical thinking. We value resources that promote possibility thinking and offer limitless opportunities for play and learning. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play that is guided by adults. The child and adult engages in ‘sustained shared thinking’
” an episode in which two or more individuals ‘work together’ in an intellectual way to solve a problem, clarify a concept, evaluate activities, extend a narrative etc. Both parties must contribute to the thinking and it must develop and extend” Siraj-Blatchford et al (2002) Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years (REPEY), DfES.
Parents as partners
We believe that parents are children’s first and most enduring educators and when parents and practitioners work together in Early Years settings, the results have a positive impact on children’s development and learning. We encourage parents to contribute to our assessments and provide advice and support on how learning and development can take place at home.
The Key person role
Each child is assigned a key person who helps to ensure that every child’s care and learning is tailored to meet their individual needs, to help the child become familiar with the setting, offer a settled relationship for the child and build a relationship with their parents (EYFS 2012: 3.26)
Our Early Years planning consists of:
Long term planning which is based on four EYFS overarching principles of every child is unique, children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships, children learn and develop well in enabling environments and children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. We meet the requirements of the educational programme in relation to the seven areas of Learning and Development, and the characteristics of effective learning.
Medium term planning informs and helps us focus on short term planning such as planning for continuous provision, planning for outdoor learning and special events and celebrations, planning for identified interests and themes for nursery and reception children. We include a range of experiences and activities appropriate to our groups of children in line with the EYFS educational programmes.
Short term planning provides a weekly overview of teaching and learning activities covering the seven areas of learning and opportunities for the development of the characteristics of effective learning. Short term planning is responsive to individual children’s interests and developmental needs.
Observation and assessment
On entry to nursery or reception classes, information is collected from parents to help establish where the child is in relation to the development matters age-related bands. This information is used as a guide to providing a ‘best fit’ baseline. There are ongoing formative and summative assessments to ensure that practitioners have a clear understanding of a child’s progress across all areas of learning and development. Concerns about individual children’s progress are identified and addressed. Observations and assessments are kept in an individual child’s learning journey, which is available for parents to read and to contribute. In the final term of the year in which the child reaches age five, the EYFS Profile is completed.
Self-help and independence
Through the Early Years, our Practitioners support the children’s growing independence and self-help skills. They are positively encouraged to do things for themselves. We support children’s growing independence as they do things for themselves, such as dressing and feeding themselves. We are an inclusive school and admit children who are not toilet trained, however by the age of three it benefits a child’s self-esteem to be independent in this. The school has very limited facilities for changing children.
In our school and in our Early Years provision, safeguarding is a priority. We look to ensure that children feel safe and we aim to promote children’s welfare and strive to safeguard children at all times. We look to ensure children’s safety, while not unduly inhibiting their risk-taking.
We promote children’s awareness of the factors that support a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, the importance of regular exercise and an active daily routine, including travelling to school, feeling good about yourself and a tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs. In order to lead a healthy life children are encouraged to interact with their world, and to develop a sense of wonder and curiosity. We value the taking of risks in learning and the questioning of the things around them.
This statement was reviewed in 2015 and reflects our current practice.