EYFS at Water Mill
Water Mill Primary School
The Statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5 years.
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. 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.
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.
At Water Mill Primary, 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. Our enabling environments and warm, skilful 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 extended periods of play and sustained thinking. We following children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school.
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.
By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their starting points are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1.
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.
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. Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed 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. The timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children. 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.
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 inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas.
English / Literacy
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 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 chosen 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.
We follow the Little Wandle phonics scheme and use Big Cat readers to support this. Phonics is taught daily. Please see our phonics page for more details.
Children are encouraged to read at home and are listened to regularly in school. They are given books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers. Children are also given the opportunity to choose a library book which they can read with their family.
This year we have been so lucky to take part in a major new initiative from the NCETM and Maths Hubs called Mastering Number. It is aimed at strengthening the understanding of number, and fluency with number facts, among children in the first three years of school. The programme is split into terms and addresses the following topics:
- Cardinality, ordinality and counting
Alongside this we also follow the White Rose Maths Scheme to ensure quality shape space and Measures is taught. 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. With our daily sessions children develop fluency, revisit key concepts and address misconceptions.
Our wider curriculum is taught through the learning areas; ‘Understanding of the World’ and
‘Expressive Arts and Design.’ EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s feed into the
National Curriculum through our robust planning and CPD opportunities. In reverse, colleagues
throughout the school are also aware of the key ELG’s that link to each foundation subject and
the progression of the subject.
Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity.
For example, building a boat for their favourite toy enables them to think like a ‘Scientist’ and
‘Engineer’ as they explore a range of materials 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.
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
greater depth of understanding and need further challenge. This includes, for example, Wellcomm, our social skills group with some of our vulnerable children, or additional ‘catch-up’ and intervention sessions in fine motor skills, phonics, and mathematics. Wellcomm is used to help to identify areas of concern in language, communication and interaction development, in order to ensure targeted early intervention.
Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the EYFS leader ensure staff develop
good subject knowledge. The EYFS leader ensures staff receive CPD specific to Early Years to
develop their practice. For example, we offer CPD on effective observations, in order to
understand where pupils are, and their ‘next steps,’ for learning.
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.
Prior to children starting, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journeys to gain an understanding of the whole child and where they are at. During the first half term in, 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 to ensure progress. The following baseline assessments are also carried out.
The RBA (Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment)
This 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.
Wellcomm is a Speech and Language Toolkit for Screening and Intervention in the Early Years. This plays a crucial role in identifying children with potential language difficulties and offers a range of customised intervention activities to help support their language development.
NELI (Nuffield Early Language Intervention) This is used during the Spring term for that extra boost.
NELI is an evidence-based oral language intervention for children who show weakness in their oral language skills and who are therefore at risk of experiencing difficulty with reading. The assessment informs us if the child is at expected for their age or requires intervention from trained NELI practitioners.
All ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children and excessive paper work. Practitioners draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements through discussions with other practitioners, photographs and physical examples such as a child’s drawing / making. Some observations are written out and filed in their individual files.
Phonic assessments are carried out using 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 are completed three times per year and shared with parents, whereby the Class Teacher updates the progress children have made. In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where teacher 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. Impact is also evident through our successful transitions into Year 1. 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.
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. '
For more detailed information about our Early Years curriculum see the Reception Class Page (Children tab). Click on the links below for an overview of when areas of the EYFS curriculum are taught.