St Paul’s C of E Primary School
Early Years Policy
“Every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfil their potential.
A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right and it provides the foundation for children to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.”
Early Years Foundation Stage Profile.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) extends from birth to the end of Reception and the beginning of Key Stage 1 (Year 1). Entry into our primary school is at the beginning of the school year in which a child turns five, although compulsory schooling does not begin until the start of the term after a child's fifth birthday.
The EYFS is crucial in every child’s development, and during these years most basic skills and attitudes to learning and socialising are established. As the name suggests, it lays many of the foundations which the later key stages in our school build upon. The EYFS is a comprehensive statutory framework that sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five. The curriculum should be seen as part of a continuum of learning which begins at birth, extends throughout the years of compulsory schooling and establishes the young person as a lifelong learner.
Children joining our school have already learnt a great deal. Most have been learning in one of the various pre-school settings in our local community. The continuing Early Years education we offer our children is based on the following principles:
- it builds progressively on what our children already know and can do, and seeks to relate starting points for learning to the child’s own experiences;
- it ensures that no child is excluded or disadvantaged;
- it offers a structure for learning that has a wide range of starting points, content that matches the needs of young children, and activities that provide opportunities for learning both indoors and outdoors;
- it provides a rich and stimulating environment.
Early childhood is the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. At St Paul’s we greatly value the importance that the EYFS plays in laying the secure foundations for future learning and development. We also believe that early childhood is valid in itself as part of life, and it is important to view the EYFS as preparation for life and not simply preparation for the next stage of education. We aim to achieve this through a holistic approach to learning which ensures that parents and carers, support staff and the Foundation staff team work effectively together to support the learning and development of every child in their care.
- To provide a broad and balanced curriculum through well-planned play and activities covering the seven areas of learning.
- To manage carefully the transition from other EYFS settings to school to enable children to come to school happily and to support everyone involved.
- To ensure that every child’s first experience of school is happy, positive and fun.
- To establish positive relationships with parents and carers.
- To provide a rich and varied indoor and outdoor learning environment
- Promote key skills in the three prime areas of the curriculum; communication and language, physical development and personal, social and emotional development.
- To value children’s interests by providing a balance of direct teaching and child-initiated learning opportunities.
- To develop an enjoyment of learning through practical activities, exploration and discussion.
- To develop confidence and social skills when interacting with others.
- To develop an understanding of the world around them through first hand experiences of both the natural and man-made world.
- To engage in and show high levels of motivation in activities planned by adults and also those they plan or initiate themselves.
Parents and Carers
- To develop feelings of mutual trust and respect.
- To be understanding and supportive of our aims in learning and teaching.
- To support their child’s learning by completing and returning homework on time, and reading together regularly.
- To attend and contribute to parent-teacher consultation meetings.
- To support their children by ensuring that they have the appropriate resources and equipment in school (e.g. suitable outdoor clothing, P.E. kit, Book Bag, etc)
- To support their child in school throughout the year, and particularly at the beginning.
The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum
The National EYFS Curriculum, which precedes the National Curriculum for Key Stages 1-4 (5 to 16 years), consists of seven Areas of Learning. Three Prime Areas and four Specific Areas.
The Prime areas are:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development - This area of learning is about emotional well-being, knowing who you are and where you fit in and feeling good about yourself. It is also about developing respect for others, social competence and a positive disposition to learning.
- Communication and Language - This area of learning develops children’s speaking, listening and understanding.
- Physical development - This area of learning includes large and small scale physical activity which develops an awareness and increased control of children’s own bodies. It also ensures children develop an understanding of health and self-care.
The Specific areas are:
- Literacy - The focus here is on the children’s ability to read and write. Phonics is the primary way in which we teach this area, along with word recognition and guided reading.
- Mathematics - This area of learning covers number and calculation and shape, space and measure.
- Understanding of the World - This area is vast and teaches children about people and communities, the World and technology.
- Creative Development - This area of learning includes art, music, dance and role-play. It teaches the skills needed to use media and materials and encourages the children to explore their imagination.
None of these areas of learning and development can be delivered in isolation from the others. They are equally important and depend on each other to support a rounded approach to child development. All the areas must be delivered through planned, purposeful play, with a balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities.
For each area of learning there are statutory Early Learning Goals. These establish expectations for most children to reach by the end of the EYFS. They provide the basis for planning in Reception. By the end of the year, some children will have exceeded the goals. Other children, depending on their individual needs, will be working towards some or all of the goals – particularly some younger children, some children with learning difficulties and some who are learning English as an additional language. We use the detailed guidance set out in the Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Good Practice in the Foundation Stage
“Children must have access to a rich learning environment which provides them with the opportunities and conditions in which to flourish in all aspects of their development. It should provide balance across the areas of learning. Integral to this is an ethos which respects each child as an individual and which values children’s efforts, interests and purposes as instrumental to successful learning.” - 2013 EYFS Handbook.
- Teachers and TAs are responsible for making observations of the children’s independent achievements. These are then used to plan for the next steps in their learning, either by setting up independent or adult-led activities.
- Teachers and TAs will be responsible for carrying out adult-led activities which will focus primarily on literacy and mathematics but most will be cross-curricular to ensure a rich and varied curriculum. Whilst an adult is working with a small group the rest of the children will be engaged in ‘independent learning’ within the unit or outdoor learning area.
- Three focus children per week are observed to ensure all children will be the focus of planning at least once a term. The enhanced provision that is then planned for reflects the needs and interests of the children in the class. Play-based learning should be planned at the level in which the children are working at the moment but also have challenges set up to ensure learning moves forward when the children are ready.
Parents and Carers
- The School aims to involve parents/carers in their child’s learning as much as possible and to inform them regularly of their child’s progress in the Foundation Stage.
- Parents are encouraged to contribute their insight into their child’s development through spoken or written communication with the EYFS staff and the online e-learning journal Tapestry.
- Parents and carers have the opportunity to meet with the child’s class teacher at least three times a year at Teacher Consultation Meetings and receive an annual report at the end of the summer term.
- Information about their child’s progress is shared with parents and carers at these times, and also ways that they may be able to assist with their child’s learning.
- Parents and carers are encouraged to support their children with homework and to attend parent-teacher teacher consultation meetings.
Play in the EYFS
- Through play, children explore and develop the learning experiences that help them make sense of the world. They practise and build up their ideas, model real life, learn how to exercise self-control, and begin to understand the need for social rules, such as turn-taking. They have the opportunity to think creatively both alongside other children and on their own. Crucially, they communicate with others as they investigate and solve problems. They express fears, or re-live anxious experiences, in controlled and safe situations.
- Activity-based learning will include ‘small world’ activities, role play and pretending, and activities involving fine and gross motor skills, including ‘making’ activities, using large apparatus and vehicles, and participating in physical games.
- We encourage the children to make their own choices of the activity-based learning activities provided, as we believe that this encourages independent learning. Teachers ensure however, that, over time, each child experiences a sufficient range of activities to enable them to progress towards all the Early Learning Goals.
- The school makes full use of the outdoor classroom, where a planned programme of appropriate activities, complementing and extending the indoor learning activities, takes place at all times of year. Parents, carers and staff work together to ensure that children wear suitable clothing at all times.
Homework in the Foundation Stage is mainly reading at home. The children are also given weekly homework which focuses on developing their phonic skills and handwriting. Occasionally we will give the children investigative or project-type homework for the family to work on together.
Transition arrangements from other EYFS settings to St Paul’s.
Entry to the school is staggered over a fortnight to support the transition from one setting to another. The school works with local nurseries and Early Years settings to support the children’s transition in the term before they are admitted. Children entering Reception Class will be invited into the school in small groups during the term prior to their induction. EYFS Staff will also visit every child in their home setting at the beginning of the school year.
- The EYFS Profile is the national, statutory assessment tool against which teachers record their observations of all children’s progress towards the Early Learning Goals, throughout the year, collating them each term and enabling a final assessment to be made at the end of the summer term of Reception. The Profile covers the seventeen assessment scales, as listed above in Section 3, covering the seven Areas of Learning of the EYFS. These regular assessments of children's learning, are used to ensure that future planning reflects identified needs. Assessment in the EYFS takes the form of observation, and this involves both the teacher and other adults, as appropriate. The collection of assessment data at the end of the EYFS, through the Profile, is a statutory requirement.
- Throughout the year the teacher assesses the ability of each child, using the EYFS Profile. These assessments allow us to identify patterns of attainment within the cohort, in order to adjust the teaching programme for individual children and groups of children. Each child’s progress will be discussed with parents and carers during the Parent Consultation meetings throughout the year.
- At the end of the Summer Term, we send a summary of the Reception assessments to the Local Authority (LA). The child's next teacher, in Year 1, uses this information to make plans for the year ahead, and to decide, in consultation with the Reception teacher, whether to begin to assess the child’s progress using the National Curriculum levels, or whether to continue to use the EYFS Profile if a significant number of the Early Learning Goals have yet to be achieved. We make regular assessments of the children’ learning and we use this information to ensure that future planning reflects identified needs. Assessment in the EYFS primarily takes the form of observation.
- The collection of assessment data in the EYFS is a statutory requirement. The outcomes of Early Learning Goal assessments are shared with parents and carers in each child’s school report at the end of the school year.
- The primary purpose of the EYFS profile is to provide Year 1 teachers with reliable and accurate information about each child’s level of development as they reach the end of the EYFS.
- Evidence of achievements is collected through a range of methods, including digital records using the e-learning journal Tapestry, as well as individual Learning Journal books, into which observations, photos and pieces of each child’s work are stuck in.
- Inclusion is about every child having educational needs that are special and the school meeting these diverse needs in order to ensure the active participation and progress of all children in their learning.
- Successful inclusive provision at St Paul’s is seen as the responsibility of the whole school community, permeating all aspects of school life and applicable to all our pupils.
- Inclusive practice in the Foundation Stage should enable all children to achieve their best possible standard; whatever their ability, and irrespective of gender, ethnic, social or cultural background, home language or any other aspect that could affect their participation in, or progress in their learning.
- We value the unique child and aim to ensure that every child reaches their own potential.
Monitoring and Review
- The Headteacher, Senior Leadership Team, Reception Class teacher and Early Years Governor will monitor the effectiveness of this policy on a regular basis. The Headteacher and Foundation Stage Leader will report to the governing body on the effectiveness of the policy regularly and, if necessary, make recommendations for further improvements.