Early Years Policy at St Lawrence
The Early Years Foundation Stage applies to children from birth to the end of the Reception year. In our Foundation Stage, children join us in the September after their fourth birthday. We have one point of intake into full time school in September. Key Stage One begins for our children at the beginning of Year One. The Early Years Foundation Stage is important in its own right and aids preparation for children in later schooling. The Early Learning Goals (ELG’s) set out what is expected of children by the end of the Foundation Stage year.
Children joining our school have already learnt a great deal. Many have been to one of a range of settings that exist in our wider community. The Early Years education we offer our children is based on the following principles:
- It builds on what our children already know and can do
- It ensures that no child is excluded or disadvantaged
- It offers a structure for learning that has a range of starting points and content that matches the needs of young children
- It provides activities that offer opportunities for learning both indoors and outdoors
- It provides a rich and stimulating environment
Starting in the Early Years Foundation Stage at St Lawrence
In the term prior to starting in our Foundation Stage class, we invite our new starters to a stay and play session. This session is integral when beginning to build relationships with both children and adults. We also hold a meeting for parents/carers during this time in which we share important information about starting school.
Aims of the Early Years Foundation Stage
The curriculum of the Early Years Foundation Stage underpins all future learning by supporting, fostering, promoting and developing children’s:
- Personal, social and emotional wellbeing
- Positive attitudes and dispositions towards their learning
- Social skills
- Attention skills and persistence
- Language and communication
- Reading and writing
- Understanding of the world
- Physical development
- Creative development
Teaching and Learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The features of good practice in our school that relate to the Early Years Foundation Stage are:
- The partnership between teachers and parents, so that our children feel secure at school and develop a sense of wellbeing and achievement
- The understanding that all teaching staff have of how children develop and learn, and how this affects their teaching
- The range of approaches used that provide first-hand experiences, give clear explanation, make appropriate interventions and extend and develop talk
- The carefully planned curriculum that helps children achieve the Early Learning Goals
- The understanding that flexibility within the curriculum to reflect children’s interests will increase deep learning patterns
- The encouragement for children to communicate and talk about their learning and to develop independence and self-regulation
- The support for learning with appropriate and accessible indoor and outdoor space, facilities and equipment
- The identification of the progress and future learning needs of the children through observations, which are regularly shared with parents via an online learning journal
- The clear aims for our work, and the regular monitoring to evaluate and improve what we do
- The regular identification of training needs of all adults working within the Early Years Foundation Stage
Characteristics of Effective Learning
The Characteristics of Effective Learning, with the Prime and Specific Areas of Learning and Development, are all interconnected. Specifically, they explore how children are learning most effectively. Teachers will consider these within observation, assessment and the planning cycle in Foundation Stage. The Characteristics of Effective Learning are:
- Playing and exploring – finding out and exploring, playing with what they know and being willing to ‘have a go’
- Active Learning – being involved and concentrating, keeping trying and enjoying what they set out to do
- Creating and thinking critically – having their own ideas, making links and choosing ways to do things
The ways in which the child engages with other people and their environment – playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.
Play in the Early Years Foundation Stage
At St Lawrence, play is an integral part of our learning journey. Through play, our children explore and develop learning experiences which help them make sense of the world. They practise and build upon ideas and understand the importance for rules and routine. They have the opportunity to think creatively alongside other children as well as on their own. They communicate with others as they investigate and solve problems. They express fears or re-live anxious experiences in controlled and safe situations.
In Foundation Stage, we are always observing and working on teachable moments. From the teachable moment the child feels valued, interesting, important, capable and able to learn as well as gaining knowledge, skills and understanding therefore making progress in one or even several areas of the Early Years Curriculum. We are able to gain a good understanding of the child’s knowledge, skills, attitude, understanding and progress.
Inclusion in the Early Years Foundation Stage
At St Lawrence we believe that all children matter. We give our children every opportunity to achieve their full potential. We do this by taking account of our children’s range of life experiences when planning for their learning.
We set realistic and challenging expectations that meet the needs of our children, so that most achieve the most progress by the end of the key stage. We achieve this by planning to meet the needs of both boys and girls, children with special educational needs, children who are more able, children with disabilities, children from all social and cultural backgrounds, children of different ethnic groups and those from diverse linguistic backgrounds.
We meet the needs of all our children through:
- Planning opportunities that build upon and extend children’s knowledge, experience and interests and develop self-esteem and confidence
- Providing a wide range of opportunities to motivate and support children and to help them learn effectively
- Providing a safe and supportive learning environment in which the contribution of all children is valued
- Using resources which reflect diversity and are free from discrimination and stereotyping
- Monitoring children’s progress and taking action to provide support as necessary
Some children who join our Early Years setting may require additional support and interventions from outside agencies. If this is the case, we will liaise closely with parents/carers, ensuring they are fully informed about the decisions we make when requesting further outside support.
Curriculum in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The curriculum for the Early Years Foundation Stage in our school reflects the areas of learning identified in the Early Learning Goals. The experiences that our children meet enable them to develop a number of competencies, skills and concepts across the seven areas of learning.
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Art and Design
Teachers will use the Early Years Framework to provide the basis for all of our planning. We will use a variety of schemes, topic planning and children’s interests to support the planning for individual children. This can be seen clearly in our Curriculum Map.
Resources in the Early Years Foundation Stage
We plan an exciting learning environment both indoors and outdoors, that encourages a positive attitude to learning. We use materials and equipment that reflect both the community that the children experience and the wider world. We encourage the children to make their own selection of the activities on offer, where possible, as we believe that this encourages independent learners. We provide carefully selected continuous provision, as well as enhancements to develop a broad range of experiences.
Assessment in the Early Years Foundation Stage
In our Foundation Stage class, we complete the statutory baseline assessment within the first six weeks of the Autumn Term. In addition to this, we spend this time observing and building relationships with the children – in order to plan next steps and individual targets.
After this initial baseline assessment, we continue to make regular assessments of children’s learning and play. We use this information to ensure that future planning reflects identified needs. Assessment in the Early Years takes the form of observations, involving teachers, teaching assistants, parents/carers and other adults as appropriate. We moderate our assessments of our children within our own team and also with colleagues from other schools.
Each child has an individual learning journal that is continuously updated and at least half termly to show individual progress. This Learning Journal shows a range of photos, videos and work completed by each child across the seven areas of learning during their time in Foundation Stage.
At the end of Foundation Stage, parents receive a report that offers comments on their child’s progress in each area of learning. It highlights the child’s strength and development needs and give details of the child’s progress.
The role of Parents/Carers
We believe that all parents/carers have an important role to play in the education of their child. We recognise the role that parents have played, and their future role in educating their children. We do this by:
- Talking to parents/carers about their child before their child starts school
- Offering parents/carers regular opportunities to talk about their child’s progress
- Encouraging parents to discuss concerns with EYFS staff
- During the Autumn and Spring terms there is a formal meeting for parents and teachers to discuss the child’s progress
- Encouraging parents to contribute to their child’s learning journal
EYFS Curriculum Map