The EYFS is where our St Chad’s children begin their school life, and we aim to provide them with the foundational skills needed for them to grow and flourish as they continue their learning journey with us. We ensure that our children’s first experience of school is happy, positive and fun and foster a love of learning and inquisitive minds through our carefully designed aspirational curriculum, which enables all pupils to progress no matter their starting point. Our intent is to nurture each child as an individual, building on their own interests to shape our provision. Enabling environments, communication friendly spaces and high-quality interactions provide the foundations needed for children to embrace our school motto and to ‘grow hearts and minds’.
Our newly designed EYFS department and bespoke curriculum effectively caters for and supports the seven areas of the Early Years curriculum. The entire setting has recently been re-designed and valuably resourced to a high standard to provide stimulating and curious areas of learning both indoors and out. Our outdoor area is now fully accessible for all pupils including those with SEND and is accessed all year round with safe all-weather flooring. We belive that there is never inaporpriate weather – just inappropriate clothing.
We have an excellent curriculum tailored to our pupils needs which nurtures and grows hearts and minds. We have a clear progression of knowledge and skills and have developed our topics to align with our new schemes of learning, and calendar events. Staff are exceptionally skilled, and confidently deliver an effective continuous provision approach to learning, whilst enhancing this with high quality teaching interactions, opportunities to ask and answer questions, supplemented provision, and activities that are linked to the children’s interests, curiosity of the world around them. These opportunities are also linked to the Super Six high-quality recommended texts for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
In the EYFS, we provide a bedrock of high-quality continuous provision and enabling environments creating opportunities for the children to choose their own learning through decision-making based on their own interests. Both the indoor and outdoor learning environments lend themselves to communication friendly areas where there are opportunities for the children to be challenged, team-build, work together, deepen their knowledge and develop their vocabulary. Our learning environments are also carefully planned to provide a range of opportunities for the children to strengthen and develop their gross motor skills.
Whole class learning is structured in 20-minute sessions, enabling our practitioners to have more interaction time with the children during their ‘Discovery Time’. Practitioners are then able to further develop pupil’s communication and language skills, spark their curiosity, move their self-selected learning forward, and enhance the provision to compliment the children’s own interests, building upon the children’s skills and prior knowledge. Pupils are also given further curriculum opportunities through reading sessions, print and mark making activities, mastery maths sessions, phonic sessions, and PE.
We use the new validated phonics scheme Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised from nursery onwards and we can already see its positive impact in our children’s communication and language and literacy skills. Pupils are keeping up with their peers and moving along together as per our ethos of ‘no child left behind’.
We use Pathways to Write texts to drive our children’s Communication and Language, Reading, and Writing skills. The sessions are exciting, stimulating and fully multisensory and the pupils’ enthusiasm and eagerness to read and write is contagious.
We follow the NCETM Mastering Number curriculum for maths and supplement this with White Rose planning for shape. Both schemes have high expectations of all pupils and are a whole class approach to learning. Once pupils leave the EYFS, they are confident in numbers within and up to at least 10 and can recall all related facts.
We provide our children with a wide range of experiential learning and stimulating, thought-provoking activities which allow children to explore ideas and concepts they may not have previously been exposed to such as taking them on school trips and visits that link to their topics, as well as holding events that address important calendar events such as the Macmillan Coffee Morning, Children in Need and Black History Month. Our Early Years pupils also take part in Teddy Hospital, and we invite parents/carers who have specific careers linked to our topics to enhance our pupils’ learning, we also hold assemblies and shows linked to our learning such as Harvest Festival shows and class assemblies, as well as being involved in Reception Welcome services led by our school vicar. Our pupils work alongside our site supervisor daily to risk-assess the learning environment, and plant, grow, and look after their own garden herbs and vegetables. High quality PE sessions are planned and delivered by Bee Active, which further supports children’s gross motor skills, balance, turn taking and listening skills. All of which provides our children with the knowledge and cultural capital they need for their future learning.
Pupils who attend our setting with SEND are invited to setting visits where our SENDCO is always present to discuss any concerns before starting our school. We work closely with local nurseries and stay at home families and always conduct home visits/setting visits prior to their start date. We work with all agencies to provide the right care for our pupils, and all referrals are made in a timely manner to best support learning outcomes from the off to ensure that children can overcome barriers and access our provision successfully.
Reception learning is formally baseline-assessed within the first few weeks of the children starting our setting using the statutory Reception Baseline Assessment, and then again at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage against the Early Learning Goals. We use the results from the baseline as well as teacher observations and interactions to assess what children know, understand and can do, as well as taking account of their interests and dispositions to learn (characteristics of effective learning), to plan children’s next steps in learning and to monitor their progress. We plan quickly for and provide high quality intervention through evidence-based programmes such as Stoke Speaks Out and Little Wandle Phonics Keep Up to support the development of early language and literacy. Our staff are highly trained and experienced in identifying any developmental delays.
The children in our care leave the Early Years with a foundational set of skills and are fully equipped to be inquisitive about the world around them, passionate about their learning, and be inspired to learn more. We strive for all children to leave our Early Years ready for the Y1 curriculum as well as being holistically nurtured to have strong morals and values towards themselves and others, following the path of Jesus. The impact of our EYFS curriculum and environment is evident through our excellent end of year results, and the clear progress made by children in all areas of the curriculum.
At St Chad’s CE (C) Primary School we believe that our surroundings and the environment can have a powerful impact on children, who learn directly through their senses and by interacting with the environment around them. Our outdoor environment provides a wealth of opportunities for young children to explore and investigate, to connect with nature and to be curious and solve problems. We encourage self-regulated learning whereby children select their own apparatus and materials and we ensure that our curriculum is based on their interests. Outdoor learning compliments the indoor classroom and there is strong evidence that high quality learning outside has a profound impact on the learning that takes place indoors.
We believe that as lifestyles in the 21st century have become more sedentary, playing and learning outdoors is crucial to supporting young children’s health, physical development and their emotional well-being. We provide opportunities for challenge and risk within a framework of security and safety, but most importantly of all, our outdoor provision is playful, active and exciting! Our school values of community, kindness, hope and forgiveness are all embedded throughout our provision as we work towards ‘Growing hearts and minds.’
Children have the opportunity to free flow to the outdoor provision on a daily basis. The seven areas of learning are carefully planned for and catered for outside, and our outdoor space compliments the indoor learning environment. Permanent provision is available outside for the children and this is enhanced with additional items that tie in with the topics the children are studying and their current needs and interests. All of our experienced practitioners recognise the importance of outdoor learning and take an active role in activities both indoors and outdoors. All EYFS staff take responsibility for the planning and resourcing of the outdoor area with the class teachers and the EYFS manager taking the lead in promoting excellent practice.
The areas available to children at all times are:
Our children are supported by highly experienced adults who are committed to recognising, capturing and extending children’s learning outdoors by reacting rapidly to ever changing conversations, ideas and children’s interests, ensuring that an opportunity to ‘learn in the moment’ is never missed.
Early communication and language is supported through a range of outdoor activities such as den building, sand and water play, problem solving and investigative activities to encourage active discussion with peers.
Physical development in the outdoors is something we pride ourselves on, and at St Chad’s we have a physical development whole school approach to our outdoor spaces, with play equipment becoming more advanced as children progress throughout the school. Our EYFS outdoor area has specific zones for physical development as well as this being planned in to other areas of learning such as den building, balancing and role play activities. Children are further supported with their physical development through outdoor PE sessions run by Bee Active who carefully plan and deliver each session.
Practise is improved upon year by year by working with EYFS hubs, advisors and by networking with our local schools. Our outdoor environment is consistently maintained to ensure an excellent learning experiences for all children and it is part of our yearly School Development Plan.
As our pupils spend time outdoors exploring, investigating, climbing and self-selecting their resources, we enable them to:
– Become independent, resilient learners who are not afraid to take calculated risks.
– Become problem solvers, team workers, and deep thinkers.
– Leave the Early Years Department fully prepared for their transition throughout the school.
– Develop fine and gross motor skills that help aid them in their everyday life skills.
– Make excellent progress with their physical development and personal, social and emotional skills ensuring that most children reach the expected level of development at the end of the foundation stage.
– Have a love of nature and be curious and inquisitive about the natural world.
– Know how to work with their peers in a positive way and how to deal with conflict positively.
– Be happy, healthy and understand the importance and benefits of being outdoors.