EYFS at Water Mill
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum
We work from the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework which sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old.
At Water Mill Primary School it is our intent that the children who enter our EYFS are proud of what they have achieved, are creative, independent learners and are prepared for their future challenges in and out of school. The curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, their experiences at home and to provide first hand learning experiences. Every child is recognised as a unique individual and we celebrate and welcome differences within our school community. Our values of respect, caring, creativity and integrity are at the heart of all of our teaching and learning.
The ability to learn is underpinned by the teaching of basic skills, knowledge, concepts and values. We constantly provide enhancement opportunities to engage inquisitive minds and believe that childhood should be a happy, investigative and enquiring time, where there are no limits to curiosity and where there is a thirst for new experiences and knowledge. Our ethos in Early Years is to support children’s personal, social and emotional development so that they feel safe and secure and are ready to learn.
We work in partnership with parents and carers to encourage independent, happy learners who thrive in school and achieve their very best from their various starting points. Throughout their time in Reception, the children will develop a sense of belonging to our school community and will be ready to transition to year 1 the following academic year. They will have the confidence and skills to make decisions, self-evaluate and make connections.
We aim to create stimulating indoor and outdoor environments which support learning so that our children reach the Early Learning goals at the end of the Foundation Stage and to ensure that all of our children make outstanding progress. We believe that their first experiences of school should be happy and positive, enabling them to develop a life-long love of learning.
At Water Mill we follow the EYFS curriculum and ensure that the learning opportunities and experiences we provide are clearly linked to both the Prime (Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development) and Specific (Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts) areas of learning. Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed/led activities.
The timetable is carefully structured so that children have challenging directed teaching in English, maths and phonics every day, with regular circle time sessions to focus on PSED. These sessions are followed by group work where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets. This focused group time 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. We are passionate about creating opportunities for children to communicate more easily, specifically through developing language and communication skills.
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 indoor and outdoor classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas.
At Water Mill we believe that enjoyment of the curriculum promotes achievement, confidence and good behaviour. Our children feel safe to try new things.
We recognise that reading is a key to all other learning and ensure quality phonic sessions are being taught daily, two 15-minute phonic session using the Optima Reader Resource and 20 minutes focusing on Letters and Sounds. During these sessions, children will apply their phonic skills (alongside learning ‘tricky words’ by sight and different vocabulary) in both reading and writing. Letters and Sounds is used so that this knowledge is transferred to writing.
We also emphasise studying key skills of number, calculation and shape so that pupils develop a deep understanding and the acquisition of mathematical language. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives which are then rehearsed and applied to their own learning during exploration.
Staff in EYFS make regular observations of the children’s learning to ensure that their next steps are met. These are collected in each child’s ‘Learning Journey’. We regularly assess where the children are using the Development Matters and then ensure our planning, adult interaction and learning environment support children to reach their next steps. We host and attend regular moderation meetings in order for EYFS staff to feel confident in making accurate judgements about where individual pupils are.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be meeting targets set or moving on children who are doing very well. This includes, for example, Wellcomm, our nurture group with some of our vulnerable children, or additional ‘catch-up’ sessions. Wellcomm is used to help to identify areas of concern in language, communication and interaction development, in order to ensure targeted early intervention.
Staff support transition into Key Stage 1. Preparing children for Year 1 with visits to their new class, meeting the teacher and ensuring the environments are similar at the end of Reception and the start of Year 1. Although EYFS has a separate curriculum we are keen to make sure our children are prepared for the next chapter in their school life.
Characteristics of Effective Learning
The characteristics of effective learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations of children and their next steps for learning. These 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 their achievements
- Creating and Thinking Critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
Children in our early years on average arrive with much lower starting points; many are not working at age related expectations when they start. During their time in our EYFS, children make very good progress and the majority meet or exceed the national expectation for GLD at the end of the year. All children get the best possible start to their school life.
Evidence of children’s learning, including observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents are kept in paper ‘Learning Journals’ which children use to reflect on their progress through pupil voice. The class teacher uses observations to make formative assessments which inform future planning and ensure that all children build on their current knowledge and skills at a good pace.
Summative assessment compares children’s attainment to age related expectations using month bands in the Development Matters. This is tracked to ensure rates of progress are good for all children, including vulnerable groups such as those with SEND or those who are disadvantaged.
Assessment judgements are moderated both in school and externally. Staff also undertake moderation training through the LA which helps validate school judgements.
Ofsted (July 2018) judged teaching and learning in Reception to be 'Good'. They said:
'Children get off to a good start to their time at school because the effective provision in the early years helps them to make good progress. '