Early Years Foundation Stage
Our ethos is underpinned by the teaching of the Catholic Church and the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.
Our aim throughout the foundation stage is to provide a happy, secure and stimulating environment. We believe that children will learn best when they feel safe, happy and motivated and enjoy their learning journey.
Our Early Years team have high expectations of what our children can achieve. We do our best to ensure that all children overcome any barriers to learning so that they can achieve their potential. We believe that all children should be supported to achieve the good level of development as defined in the Early Years Foundation Stage and have the opportunities to develop their characteristics of effective learning.
It is through play, both indoors and outdoors, that children begin to experience and learn about the world around them and how to cope with life’s many adventures and challenges.
We use the Tapestry On-line Learning Journey system throughout the EYFS. All children in Reception class have a personal on-line Learning Journey which will contain observations, photographs and videos documenting key moments of learning and progress. The evidence collected is a record of each child’s experiences and achievements during their time with us, and will be linked in to the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. Parents are encouraged to contribute to the Learning Journey by adding photographs and comments, or commenting on observations added by us.
At St. Joseph’s we recognise that the Early Years classroom is the first step into school life and we aim to promote a love of learning which will endure a lifetime.
We aim to provide a curriculum that promotes children to be independent, confident and resilient and allows all children to flourish and progress from their starting points regardless of background, circumstances or needs.
By designing a curriculum that takes into account children’s interests, we hope to inspire all of our children to enjoy learning and to reach their full potential.
Our school is enriched by an array of cultures, languages and backgrounds, which allows our children to be sensitive to the fact that we are all unique and different and this is something to be proud of. Our curriculum ensures we cover a wide range of festivals and celebrations to allow our children to compare similarities and differences and provide hands on learning experiences and links within our local community.
To ensure all of our children make progress, we take into consideration each child’s unique starting points and meet children’s individual needs through our planning to ensure the correct support is given and any gaps within learning are addressed. We pride ourselves on our early intervention and strong links with outside services to ensure all children are receiving the correct support.
Our practice is guided by the four overarching principles of the EYFS:
- Support and nurture the Unique Child
Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
We get to know our children and our families well. We understand our children are all different and learn at different rates. We therefore work with individual children through their interests and play to work on individual next steps to ensure we move their learning forward. We know that before learning can take place our children have to feel secure and confident.
- Establish Positive Relationships
Children learn to be independent and develop strong, positive and respectful relationships.
By getting to know our children’s personalities, interests, likes and dislikes, we work hard to ensure secure relationships between children and staff. We also appreciate and know that parents are the child’s first educator and know the most about their child. We hope to work closely with parents to work in partnership between home and school. We involve parents through workshops, events, Tapestry, parents’ evenings, newsletters and weekly focus letters.
- Creating Enabling Environments
Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between home and school.
We are constantly evaluating and adapting out learning environments to fit with children’s interests and to build upon skills. We aim to use lots of open ended resources to develop curiosity, imagination and language and vocabulary. Our environments are owned by the children and we encourage independence to access resources and use them how they wish.
- Coherently planning for Learning and Development
Children develop and learn in different ways. The framework covers the education and care of all children in Early Year’s provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities
We use a range and balance of adult-led and child-initiated learning opportunities to follow the needs and interests of the children. We know our children really well and understand their barriers to learning and next steps to ensure progression for all.
The curriculum provides a play-based learning environment, where our skilled practitioners carefully scaffold learning during child-initiated tasks, combined with focussed teaching and basic skill group time. We know that children do not learn in a linear way and there are many strands to our young children’s learning and ensure that our teaching is carefully sequenced to develop progress.
The children in our Reception class are provided with many opportunities to explore both indoor and outdoor provision. They engage in planned, focussed activities as well as self-initiated and free flow activities. Children are offered a full and comprehensive learning experience designed across the seven statutory areas of learning and development within the EYFS.
These areas are split into three prime areas and four specific areas. The three prime areas are those which the children should develop first and are considered most essential for the healthy development of our children. Through a balance of direct teaching and child-initiated activity, we cohesively weave learning across the seven areas of the EYFS curriculum.
Communication and Language
Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
Understanding of the World
Expressive Arts and Design.
At St Joseph’s, early language acquisition is prioritised. Powerful conversation and sustained shared thinking between adults and children provides children with essential tools of communication so critical for future learning.
High quality teaching of phonics will lead to strong reading and is an important aspect of our work. Reading is always of the highest priority; children progress through books which are carefully matched to phonics they have already secured.
Learning in our Reception classes is packaged in themed units of work, which are designed to excite and engage the children.
Our EYFS staff cohesively plan and structure the daily learning, which is a combination of:
Adult direct teaching where the teacher or assistant directly teaches new skills and knowledge. This might be the whole class, small groups or one-to-one.
Deliberate and planned practice where staff repeat learning over time through carefully planned activities. They intervene with children who need more practice; they extend children who are already fluent. Learning is scaffolded to allow for varying needs of learners, increasing fluency and independence.
Child self-initiated activities – also called continuous provision - children often call these their ‘jobs’. Activities are set up on a daily basis and the child moves between them.
Language development is planned each day, whether this be phonics teaching, dialogue between staff and children or intervention programmes like Nuffield Early Language Development (NELI).
We hope through our broad and balanced curriculum our children learn to believe in themselves and be proud of their local community. They understand the importance of their actions and the part they play in the diverse wider world. Through a strong self-belief leading to a positive physical and mental well-being our children are equipped to take risks and overcome any challenges they may face.
Children will leave Early Years as compassionate individuals with a developing understanding that everyone should be valued and respected. We hope memorable learning experiences allow our children to retain knowledge, apply skills and develop links in their understanding and allow them to achieve to the best of their ability. Children leave Early Years with a developing independence and confidence, equipped with powerful knowledge and skills, ready and excited to continue their learning journey in Year 1.