Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Policy

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) applies to children from birth to the end of the reception year. Our Early Years Foundation Stage accommodates children from the age of 3 to 5 years. In our school we have two part-time Nursery classes and one full-time reception classes. Each Nursery class has 26 places and children are offered a place in the term following their third birthday. In Nursery there is one full-time teacher and one full-time teaching assistant. As attendance to our nursery classes is on a part time basis this allows places for 52 children in five two and a half hour daily sessions, or twelve and a half hours per child per week.

Children who have turned four by the 1st September of that school year are offered a full time place in our Reception classes, with thirty places available in each class. Each reception class has a full time teacher and a full-time teaching assistant.  To ensure best practice and continuity our foundation stage classes work closely together and share planning, activities, an indoor shared area and an outdoor learning environment.

A part time Nursery Nurse supports children across the Foundation Stage.

Aims:

At Gomersal St Mary’s we aim to give each child a positive and meaningful start to their school life, in which they can establish solid foundations on which to develop into independent and fearless lifelong learners.

We will:

  • Encourage children to develop independence within a secure and friendly atmosphere
  • Support children in building relationships through the development of social skills such as cooperation and sharing
  • Help each child to recognise their own strengths and achievements through experiencing success
  • Develop self-confidence to work towards personal goals

Our high expectations will enable each child to develop socially, physically, intellectually and emotionally and to achieve their full potential. We will offer a structure for learning that has a range of starting points and unlimited availability for development through a wide range of new and exciting first-hand experiences that will give children the opportunity to consolidate, explore and test their skills, knowledge and understanding building on prior knowledge. We will ensure that children are kept healthy and safe and that they achieve the knowledge and skills they need to be school ready.

The Curriculum:

The Nursery and Reception follow the curriculum as outlined in the 2014 Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) document, which is available to download at

www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-foundation-stage-framework–2.

This clearly defines what we teach. We use the Focus Education Learning Challenge Curriculum to support our topic planning to ensure we meet the objectives of this framework.

The EYFS is based upon four principles:

  • A Unique Child
  • Positive Relationships
  • Enabling Environments
  • Learning and Development

We recognise that every child is a competent learner who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. We recognise that children develop in individual ways, at varying rates. Children’s attitudes and dispositions to learning are influenced by feedback from others; we use praise and encouragement, as well as celebration/ sharing assemblies and rewards, to encourage children to develop a positive attitude to learning.

Positive relationships:

We recognise that children learn to be strong and independent from secure relationships and aim to develop caring, respectful and professional relationships with the children and their families.

Enabling environments:

We recognise that the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending the children’s development. Through observations we assess the children’s interests and stages of development and learning needs before planning challenging and achievable activities and experiences to extend their learning.

Learning and development:

Our foundation stage has one nursery classroom, one reception classroom, an indoor shared area, and a large outdoor area. All our learning environments are organised to allow children to explore and learn securely and safely. There are areas where the children can be active, be quiet and rest.

There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape educational provision in early year’s settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. None of the areas of learning can be delivered in isolation from the others. Our children’s learning experiences enable them to develop competency and skill across a number of learning areas. They require a balance of adult led and child initiated activities in order for most children to reach the levels required at the end of EYFS. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.

Areas of Learning:

The EYFS is made up of three prime area of learning:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development

There are four specific areas of learning:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

At Gomersal St Mary’s CE Primary School all areas are delivered through a well-planned, play based approach, with a balance of adult led and child initiated activities. Throughout the foundation stage our planning ensures that each child has the opportunity to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding in every area at the appropriate developmental level. Our long term planning ensures coverage so that all children have opportunities to work towards and achieve the Early Learning Goals (ELG’s) that define the expectations for most children to reach by the end of the EYFS. We follow a half termly topic based approach which allows flexibility to ensure that both children’s needs and interests are taken into account.

Learning through play underpins our approach to teaching and learning in the foundation stage. We embrace the fact that young children learn best from activities and experiences that interest and inspire them to learn. In doing so we can provide children with stimulating, active play experiences in which they can explore and develop their learning and to help them make sense of the world. Children have opportunities through their play to think creatively and critically alongside other children as well as on their own. They are able to practise skills, build upon and revisit prior learning and experiences at their own level and pace. Play gives our children the opportunity to pursue their own interests, inspire those around them and consolidate their understanding and skills. The children learn to adapt, negotiate, communicate, discuss, investigate and ask questions. Our adults take an active role in child initiated play through observing, modelling, facilitating, teaching and extending play, skills and language.

Characteristics of Effective Learning:

The EYFS also includes the characteristics of effective teaching and learning and the nursery and reception teachers plan activities with these in mind. The characteristics highlight the importance of a child’s attitude to learning and their ability to play, explore and think critically about the world around them. The three characteristics 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 achievements
  • Creating and Thinking Critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

Inclusion:

Our whole school ethos, as well as that of the foundation stage, embraces inclusion. We recognise and respect the abilities and strengths of our children at all levels of development and the wealth of knowledge and experience that they bring from their differing backgrounds and cultures.

We give our children every opportunity to achieve their best. We do this by taking account of our children’s range of life experiences when planning for their learning and we set realistic and challenging expectations that meet the needs of individual children, so that children are able to reach their full potential.  This is achieved by planning to meet the needs of boys and girls, children with special educational needs, children who are more able, children from all social and cultural backgrounds, children of different ethnic groups and those from diverse linguistic backgrounds. We aim to build upon and extend children’s knowledge, experience and interests, and develop their self-esteem and confidence using a wide range of teaching strategies based on children’s learning needs

We will provide:

  • a wide range of opportunities to motivate and support children and to help them to learn effectively
  • a safe and supportive learning environment in which the contribution of all children is valued
  • resources which reflect diversity and are free from discrimination and stereotyping
  • challenging activities for all children and for those whose ability and understanding are advanced

We will monitor children’s progress and take action to provide support as necessary. Where a specific need is suspected we will liaise with the Inclusion Manager and seek advice from outside agencies, such as the speech and language service, the educational psychologist.  We adhere to the Equality policy of the school.

Early Years Pupil Premium – we will endeavour to identify our least advantaged pupils and inform families or carers of their opportunity to apply for their child’s entitlement to extra funding in school. All extra funding we receive will be used to support areas in which we identify that the child will best benefit. We will track children’s progress to ensure that they are making good progress and to ensure that support is adjusted to target specific areas as the child develops.

Assessment:

Throughout nursery and reception children knowledge, understanding, skills and achievements are assessed and tracked using the developmental stages set out in the document ‘Development Matters in the  Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)’.

We record each child’s level of development against the 17 early Learning goals as Emerging, Expected or Exceeding. We make regular assessments of children’s learning, and we use this information to ensure that future planning reflects identified needs. Assessment in the Foundation Stage takes the form of both formal and informal observations, photographic evidence and through planned activities. Assessment is completed regularly and involves both the teacher and other adults, as appropriate.

Foundation Stage staff use observations as the basis for planning. Staff are skilled at observing children to identify their achievements, interests and next steps for learning. These observations then lead the direction of the planning. Relevant and significant observations are recorded in the children’s Learning Journeys.

Our assessment depends on us getting to know our children very well and to this end we gather information from a range of sources; observations of the children in play, in adult led activities, through discussions with families and carers and through talking to the children. We keep written and photographic evidence to help us build up a picture of children’s strengths and achievements and to help us to plan for children’s next steps in learning. We use the 2Simple software to log this evidence and monitor progress.

2015/16 is the final year for the statutory reporting of the Foundation Stage Profile, the end of year assessment of children’s achievements in all areas of learning. Observational evidence and samples of children’s work throughout the school year will be used to assess children as ‘emerging’, ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’ based on their understanding and achievement of the Early Learning Goals set out in the EYFS curriculum.

From September 2016 our children’s knowledge, skills and understanding will continue to be tracked throughout the foundation stage and assessed against the ELG’s at the end of Reception to establish an end of foundation stage achievement and learning profile for each child in preparedness for their transition to Key Stage One.

Transitions:

At Gomersal St Mary’s CE Primary School we recognise that starting school and moving up classes has the potential to be a stressful time for both children and families.  Therefore a transition timetable ensures that our children and families are as confident and secure as they can be when preparing for their next year group.

Both Nursery and Reception hold a meeting before the children start school to provide families with key information, school expectations, knowledge on our curriculum and assessment and advice on how they can help their child. In Nursery all families are offered a home visit prior to their child starting school and in Reception all children who did not attend the Nursery are also offered a visit. This gives children the security of meeting with their teachers in a safe, familiar environment and gives families time to ask questions and share knowledge or any concerns they have about their child. In the summer term Reception children have the opportunity to meet with their next teachers in their classroom to help them prepare for their new class. Information packs are given out to families with key information in to help in the preparation to start.

Both Nursery and Reception there is a settling in period to ensure that children have the time to become secure and familiar with the new routines before starting proper.

At the end of each school year teachers have the opportunity to share their knowledge of each child’s knowledge, understanding and achievements, including end of year assessment data, with their next class teacher to ensure that all teachers have a well-rounded picture of the children prior to the new school year.

During children’s time in Nursery and Reception a range of shared activities are planned for all classes to help develop children’s confidence and to ensure continuity in experiences throughout the foundation stage. Children in both Nursery and Reception make use of the whole school facilities, such as the hall, shared area, and playing field for appropriate activities to ensure that children are confident and well prepared for moving around the school and for mixing with older children when they start school. Throughout the Reception year, when children are ready they are gradually introduced to whole school activities such as Worship and to using the main playground. Nursery children also attend Celebration Worship which is held once per week.

Partnership with Families:

We believe that families and carers are a child’s first educator and therefore work very closely to ensure they are involved in what their child does at school.  We want families to feel they can speak to us about their child and to feel comfortable in our setting.  During our Happy Hours (visit sessions) Nursery and Reception families have the opportunity to share their child’s learning environment, have time to talk informally with the practitioners and to meet other families.  Families are welcomed and encouraged to share information about their child, to ask questions and to discuss their child’s learning with the teachers.  Three times a year families receive a progress sheet highlighting the academic and pastoral progress of their child. Families are also invited to speak to teachers about their child’s progress on a more formal basis 3 times per year. Reception children also receive an end of year report. Families are always welcomed to discuss their children informally at the end of the school day. There are also other opportunities for EYFS families to participate in school life including: class presentations, a Welcome Service in Church, Sports Day, our Summer Concert as well as the fortnightly Tot’s Praise held in Church.

Health & safety and safeguarding:

Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met, and when they have positive relationships with the adults caring for them. We follow the safeguarding and welfare requirements detailed in the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Guidance (2014) and we adhere to the school’s safeguarding policy.

We are a healthy school and our children under 5 receive free milk and all children have access to fresh water and free fruit from a Government scheme. Reception children who stay for lunch are eligible for free school meals or can choose to bring in a healthy packed lunch.

Each Foundation Stage classroom has access to their own toileting facilities and we teach the children the importance of hygiene, hand washing techniques and throughout the year we plan cooking activities to give children experiences of a range of healthy food.

Happy Summer Holidays! Thank you for all your support this year. See you back on Tuesday 5th September!