Early Years

Intent

At Holy Family & St Michael’s we welcome our Early Year’s children and their families as they join our school family. As Foundation Stage if the first class in school, we ensure the children have a successful transition from nursery which is something we pride ourselves on as a team. We know that starting school is a special time and we want our new children to feel happy, safe, valued and form good relationships with adults in school and their new friends.

As a foundation stage team we provide an active, fun-filled and interesting learning environment for our students that will establish the groundwork for their future success. We value the development of each child as an individual and provide them with the knowledge and skills to prepare them for their journey they will take as they move throughout our school.

Our goal in the Early Years is to lay solid foundations so that our children can be as successful as they can be, which will help the children to go on to be successful in their adult life. We want our children to enjoy their learning and to be amazed about the world’s beauty.

We provide an ambitious curriculum which is carefully sequenced to challenge and allow all to achieve. Our curriculum has a strong emphasis on reading as we want our children to be immersed in books so they become imaginative and confident readers and learners. We use books to introduce new vocabulary and have lots of talk around these stories that we share. We know that planning to help the children develop their language is vital for the Early Years. We use carefully selected books to provide experiences and opportunities for cross-curricular links, such as topic and creative.

Practitioners support the children to develop strong characteristics of effective learning which weave throughout all aspects of the curriculum. By the end of the Reception year, we want the children to be happy, independent, confident learners that explore and are actively engaged in their learning.

The Early Years team work alongside our families to support them and the children. We create strong and positive relationships as we value the partnership between school and home. We promote this through stay and plays, workshops and by having an open door policy.

Implementation

We follow the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage Framework’ published by the Department for Education (DFE) for the Reception children, as this sets the standards for learning and development. Our Early Years Curriculum follows the guidance to provide a wide range of learning opportunities for our children.

The Early Years team use the Development Matters as a tool to help when planning to ensure the children’s learning has depth. This is a non-statutory document that provides us with activities for the different age ranges. Learning in the Early Years is planned for but is also driven by the children’s interests.

During their time in Foundation the children work towards the Early Learning Goals by developing their skills and knowledge in the seven areas of learning.

The three prime areas:

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development 
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development 

The four specific areas:

  • Literacy 
  • Mathematics 
  • Understanding the World 
  • Expressive arts and design 

The children will also develop their characteristics of effective learning which are:

  • Playing and exploring 
  • Active learning 
  • Creating and thinking critically 

 We offer a welcoming, bright and interactive learning environment where indoor and outdoor opportunities are provided to the children. The children explore and deepen learning whilst in the areas of provision, playing with peers and through interactions with the adults in the setting. We have a good balance of child and adult led learning opportunities. We carefully plan our timetable to ensure that the children are engaged with their learning. We have focused sessions for Phonics, RE, Maths, English, circle times, talk and story times. These sessions are then followed by group activities where adults support the children’s learning.

Talk time is carefully planned to ensure that the children are developing their communication and language skills. We encourage the use of new vocabulary through the use of books and by the children engaging in purposeful interactions with staff and peers.

Floppy’s Phonics

In our Early Years, we have a strong emphasis on reading and reading for pleasure by immersing the children in books. The children follow the ‘Floppy’s Phonics’ scheme and continue this to end of KS1. This scheme helps our children with their sounds, letter recognition, language and the skills they need to begin their reading journey. Our decodable reading books run alongside this scheme and help to build the children’s confidence and enjoyment of reading.  The children also receive two phonic worksheets to take home to practise for homework each week which will focus on the sounds taught in class for extra repetition. We understand that we are what we repeatedly do.

Writing

To support with our writing, we use The Write Stuff created by Jane Considine. This helps with vocabulary, language, thinking and writing. We use the EYFS Rainbow which is built around three tiers-

  • Tier 1- The Fantastics
  • Tier 2- The Catalytics
  • Tier 3- The Realistics

We really enjoy when Mr Fantastic visits us with new vocabulary words that are in his basket.

Our handwriting sessions support letter formation and good pencil control. Gross and fine motor skills are supported in our areas and during PE sessions.

Power Maths

We use ‘Power Maths’ to support our Maths learning. We do this through short whole class bursts of learning and then allow the children to practise the skills in the areas of provision. The Power Maths workbooks are also used to support the children’s learning. The children use the Maths area in the setting to practice, repeat, consolidate and deepen their learning.

Religious Education

For our RE teaching we follow the scheme ‘The Way, The Truth and the Life.’ This scheme helps the children learn about faith and it supports the teachings of Jesus. Daily collective worship supports the children’s understanding and provides opportunities for talk and listening. The children also learn about other Faiths and Celebrations.

We use an inclusive approach that allows all children to learn in Reception together but we also deliver targeted interventions and support. These include talk sessions, fine motor activities, daily phonics and maths interventions to allow children to achieve their full potential. Whilst in the areas of provision, the staff work with specific children to work on any areas of development.

The Early Years team have meetings and daily conversations to discuss planning, individual children, judgements and next steps for learning. Staff also discuss any changes that need to be made and how to implement this.

Whilst being with the children in the areas of provision staff carry out observations. ‘Wow’ moments are captured using our online learning journey (2Simple) The children’s achievements are shared throughout the year with parents so they can see their child’s progress.

To prepare our children for their journey into Year 1 we have discussions about any worries or concerns that they might have and also about how exciting it is and how much they are looking forward to moving on. We have transition days where they are able to see their new classroom and meet the staff that will be in their new class.

Impact

The Early Years team try to ensure that they have an understanding of each child and where they are at by speaking to parents, previous settings and meeting the children before they start in September.

We identify each child’s starting point during the first half term using ongoing assessments, observations and having conversations with the children. This helps us to develop a baseline for each child who is then closely monitored through careful planning, observation and assessment. Any next steps for their learning and development are continually identified ensuring that we can then further plan and provide experiences to make sure that we show progression throughout the year. Using all these methods help the children make good progress so that they meet the national expectation for GLD at the end of the year.

In order to guarantee the curriculum meets the needs of all our children including pupils who are disadvantaged and those with SEND we spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning. This is achieved by talking to pupils, looking at their work, observing learning experiences and analysing data and progression. Evidence of children’s learning including observations, work samples and photographs are recorded in floor books and on our 2 Simple app. Teachers also update each child’s progress during various points throughout the school year.

As a Foundation Stage team we try to make certain that we lay solid foundations so that each child can develop as an individual and be happy and curious. Through assessment, teaching and exploration in areas of provision we have high expectations for every child.