At St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, we aim to provide the highest quality care and education for all our children in Early Years by giving them the best possible start to school and by building strong foundations for their future learning. We want to foster our children’s curiosity about the world and embed a positive attitude towards school and learning as they develop physically, verbally, cognitively and emotionally. In EYFS we recognise that children are at the beginning of their educational journey and believe that the child’s first school experiences should be both happy and positive. We aim to provide them with a safe and stimulating environment in which they can learn and develop in a variety of ways. We acknowledge that each child is unique and are therefore passionate about how we provide each of them with the best opportunities to achieve their full potential.
We intend to:
- work with parents, carers and the wider school community to enable positive, independent, happy learners who enjoy school and achieve their full potential
- provide opportunities based on children’s interests to support learning, consolidate and deepen knowledge.
- provide a learning environment that reflects and supports the education of the children.
- ensure children make good progress from their starting points.
- support a smooth transition to KS1.
Our Early Years Foundation Stage Unit comprises of a Nursery and Reception Class. We work as a Foundation Stage unit and share our indoor and outdoor space. The learning environment can be divided for discrete teaching sessions.
We follow the Early Years Statutory Framework throughout our EYFS at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School. We use the framework as the basis for the learning and development required in our EYFS by providing prime and specific areas of learning. Our teaching of these areas is both practical and inclusive. The EYFS team support and challenge the children in class sessions, small groups and by working with individuals. Children in both our Nursery and Reception classes follow the EYFS guidance, which has seven main areas of learning. These seven areas, which are split into Prime areas and Specific areas, are used to provide the opportunities for the children to acquire new skills, knowledge and understanding.
The Prime Areas:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
The Specific Areas:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
We follow a topic based curriculum which is broad and balanced to meet the needs of our children to ensure they all make good progress. Within a typical week there is a combination of teacher taught sessions as well as a wealth of stimulating continuous provision opportunities where adults scaffold learning through skilful interactions and questioning. In addition to providing opportunities to learn within the seven main areas the children also participate in an R.E. focused task. Our children also take part in developing their phonic knowledge by working with an adult in small groups daily. These sessions are delivered by experienced members of the EYFS team to ensure high expectations are maintained. Children are regularly assessed and challenged to make sure they make good progress in this area.
In Nursery, the children complete an adult-led task based around the areas of learning each week. In Reception, during the first term, children will complete an adult-led literacy and mathematics task once a week. They are also provided with discrete mathematics and literacy tasks which children complete independently to help support their later transition to KS1.
Our joint learning environment of Nursery and Reception helps promote the children’s independence and allow children to access the curriculum confidently. Children can access a range of stimulating and quality play-based experiences independently through the continuous provision both indoors and outdoors. This encourages them to notice, question and develop a sense of awe and wonder.
Knowledge and skills are essential in the use of continuous provision and provide an insight into the development of the child. Children use and demonstrate taught skills daily through these means independently and are closely observed by practitioners. Through the means of continuous provision children can work on their own, collaboratively or with practitioners as they develop vital life skills such as independence, innovation, creativity, enquiry, analysis and problem solving.
We promote effective interactions between staff and children through regular home/school communication to ensure that our curriculum planning and provision is flexible and continuously adapted to meet the needs of all learners. This enables us to have a secure understanding of the children’s needs and interests as they continue to develop and grow. We carry out daily evaluations of the children’s understanding to plan opportunities which extend or consolidate learning the following day. Through our regular team discussions we identify areas of development and adaptations are made to the learning environment and activities to ensure that children make good progress and all their individual needs of children are met.
Within our EYFS, children are assessed continuously through accurate and specific observations and questioning. Through regular assessment and discussion we organise and implement interventions for groups or individuals if and when necessary. These provide us with information for immediate and future planning, not only for our individual classes, but also for individual children’s next steps in their learning. Our focused observations enable EYFS practitioners to ensure learning is embedded and consistent and that all children continue to make outstanding progress within our EYFS setting. Observations are collated primarily by the child’s key worker and are shared and recorded online using videos and photographs. Our observations celebrate children’s achievements, learning, assess and track progress, include experiences from home. We also ask the parents to conduct and record observations. This enables parents/family members to send in information about their children’s news and achievements outside of school and this provides us with a really well-rounded picture of our children. Regular parent meetings sharing of videos and photographs ensure that parents are kept up to date with their children’s development and progress. We find that this level of communication is very helpful in not only maintaining and strengthening relationships between the school and home, but also provides the basis of continual dialogue with parents so they can continue to support their children’s learning outside of school.
To support our wider curriculum, we provide regular opportunities for parents and carers to come into school and work with their child, share their work and celebrate successes. We keep parents informed and we meet regularly with them to ensure children’s transition through the EYFS is happy and allows them to reach their potential with the support needed. This includes home visits, parent workshops, teddy bears picnic, reports and parent consultations as well as more frequent informal communication to suit individual families.
Children make good or better progress across the EYFS curriculum from their varied starting points. Our children become more knowledgeable and confident in their play and exploration, through being active and developing their creative and critical thinking skills, which takes place both indoors and outside.
Most of our children reach the Early Learning Goals at the end of Reception and are at least in line with National Expectations. This is evidenced within completed observations notes, images of children learning and highlighted statements.
We recognise that although many children are awarded a particular level at the end of EYFS they could still be working at differing levels within this range, so we ensure effective communication between EYFS practitioners and those in Key Stage 1 are maintained to identify and discuss individual needs and targets to provide a smooth transition.
We provide a range of healthy snacks and milk and learn about the importance of a healthy balanced lifestyle to maintain our own wellbeing. The children perform in a Nativity, receive certificates to celebrate achievement and success in whole school assemblies. They observe chicks or ducks hatching from eggs as part of their spring topic leading to Lent. They are visited by a range of community members including the police, fire service, and nurses. They are able to participate in whole class assemblies. They plant bulbs and seeds, watch them grow and eat their produce such as tomatoes. A range of educational visits are also planned and conducted throughout the year to enrich their learning experiences and invest in the children’s cultural capital.