Early Years Foundation Stage
The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five years.
Our curriculum builds upon the knowledge and skills which children have acquired within their nursery/pre-school settings, and within their homes. It enables the children to succeed through co-operative and collaborative learning principles. As such, there is a strong emphasis on the Prime Areas of learning: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, and Communication and Language. There are carefully crafted opportunities for the children to develop the prime skills within the four Specific Areas of learning: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.
We work in partnership with all stakeholders: parents and carers, the Governing Body and the Magnificat EYFS Leads’ Working Group to ensure effective communication and share best practice.
Our enabling environments and warm, skilful, adult interactions support the children as they begin to link their play and exploration to their learning. Research demonstrates that high engagement levels aid pupils’ progress and we, therefore, provide an engaging curriculum, with enriching activities. For example, in the summer term, we care for and observe caterpillars as they transform into butterflies. We enhance our curriculum provision by following the children’s interests and ideas. This helps to ensure that each individual reaches their full potential providing the best learning opportunities for every child in our school family. Our intent is to nurture a lifelong love of learning, both in and outside of school.
By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their various starting points, and are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a secure foundation for future learning, as they progress into Year One and beyond.
Each term, a new topic is introduced and this enables inspiration for learning, whilst we also provide the flexibility for children to follow their own interests and ideas.
Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed whole-class teaching throughout the day, as well as working in small, guided groups with the class teacher. Small, guided group work means the teacher can systematically check pupils’ understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback, which results in a strong impact on pupils’ acquisition of new learning.
Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences, which are carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the Enhanced Provision. The curriculum is planned for both the inside and outside classrooms.
English / Literacy:
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and our aim is to encourage a love of reading right from the start. In the EYFS, we expose the children to a variety of texts that not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their oracy, vocabulary and comprehension. These books are embedded in our provision through activities, story sessions and on display for children to access independently. We plan our English curriculum using the ‘Talk for Writing’ framework. Through this, children begin to internalise new vocabulary and language patterns and become more confident in retelling and creating stories.
We support the children to strengthen and develop their fine motor skills through adult-led handwriting sessions and by providing access to a writing area and a permanent fine motor skills area of provision, alongside providing writing opportunities in other areas, for example, the construction area and role-play.
We implement the Twinkl Phonics Programme which is a DfE-validated scheme. In Reception, children cover Phases Two to Four, where they develop GPC recognition, as well as blending and segmenting skills to read and spell words which include these GPCs.
Pupils undertake half-termly phonics assessments (using Phonics Tracker) to identify any GPCs which they are not yet secure with. Reports from these half-termly assessments are used to inform the planning of interventions so that they are tailored to the pupils’ areas of need. Each child takes home a phonics keyring weekly, which includes all of the GPCs and Tricky Words which they have learnt within the phase so far, so that they can re-visit them in short, sharp bursts each day from home.
Children are encouraged to read at home daily and they are listened to regularly in school, on an individual basis and in guided reading sessions. Pupils are given books that match the GPCs which are being taught in school each week, in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers. A Phonics Workshop for parents is held each academic year, organised by the Phonics and English Leads. The aim of the workshop is to deepen parents’ understanding of the phonics curriculum and how they can support their child’s learning from home.
In Reception, we follow the White Rose Maths Scheme of Learning. Within our high-quality learning environment, meaningful interactions with adults support children with developing their mathematical thinking, reasoning and problem solving skills.
Pupils learn through games and tasks, using concrete manipulatives, which moves into drawing pictorial representations and then applying their learning in more abstract, problem-solving concepts. Children participate in ‘Maths Fluency’ sessions (a ‘Teaching for Mastery’ initiative) to develop their mathematical fluency.
10% of the EYFS curriculum time is dedicated to the teaching of Religious Education. These lessons are planned using the ‘Learning and Growing as People of God’ Diocesan Strategy and lessons are planned which enable the children to demonstrate their learning through practical, creative and open-ended activities. Carefully crafted questioning enables pupils to reflect, contemplate and display their knowledge and understanding.
From the beginning of Reception, pupils are taught how to make the Sign of the Cross, and they say a range of traditional and contemporary prayers throughout each day. Pupils participate in weekly whole-school assemblies, Key Stage assemblies and class-based collective worship. As the year progresses, children play a more active role in our class assemblies, by leading and making decisions, for example, choosing the music or Bible story.
Meaningful links with our Parish Priest, Father Kevin, are formed from the beginning of Reception, through our Blessing of the Stones ceremony. Pupils attend Mass with peers from different year groups on a rolling-programme, and these dates are documented in our liturgical planner.
Our wider curriculum is taught through the following two Specific Areas: Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. Building further on our oracy focus, children are encouraged to apply subject-specific language, and vocabulary is modelled by practitioners.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional intervention and support for children who may not be reaching their potential or are showing a greater depth of understanding and need further challenge. This includes, for example, sessions for developing speech and language, fine motor skills and phonics.
Prior to the children starting, EYFS staff conduct home visits, and communicate with previous settings, to gain a holistic view of each child and their abilities. During the first few weeks in Reception, staff use observations and conversations, as well as the DfE Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) outcomes, to deepen this knowledge. The RBA identifies each individual’s starting points in Mathematics, Literacy and Communication and Language.
Ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment method does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children or excessive paperwork.
Phonic assessments are undertaken using Phonics Tracker every half term to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ so that no child gets left behind.
Summative assessments against each of the ELGs are completed three times per year, using Bromcom. Pupils are assessed as either ‘on track’ or ‘not on track’ against the ELGs. Whilst there is no longer a judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, an internal ‘on track +’ judgement is used to identify those pupils who should be targeted to achieve Greater Depth as they progress into Year One. In the Summer Term, the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is completed, where a judgement is made on whether each child has met the seventeen ELGs and subsequently reached a Good Level of Development.