Early Years Foundation Stage
Children develop quickly in the early years, and early years practitioners aim to do all they can to help children have the best possible start in life. Our Nursery and Reception classes give your child a holistic, sociable, fun learning experience rooted in pedagogy and adapted to the needs of our children. We lay the foundations on which later learning and success can be built.
Our team of Early Years Educators consists of our EYFS Leader, Lead Nursery Teacher, our parallel Reception Teacher and our fantastic Teaching Assistants. Our principals and practice are based on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the statutory framework that sets the standards that all Early Years providers must meet to ensure that children develop socially, emotionally, physically and academically.
Our Early Years Foundation Stage Team aim to:
- provide high quality care and an education the helps all our children to flourish and achieve
- ensure our Foundation Stage provision puts the child and their family at the heart of the learning process
- advocate appropriate early years practice which recognises the importance of the child’s stage of development and has high expectations for all children to reach their potential
- understand and apply our knowledge of how young children develop and learn
- work collaboratively with professionals from other schools in our academy trust and local authority to support the emerging needs of our cohort.
Life is full of changes and transitions: this can be exciting and positive, or worrying and difficult, especially for young children starting school or nursery. We take pride in supporting our individual children and their families in a sensitive and thoughtful way through this process as they join us in the nursery, reception and as they move into Year 1.
The EYFS curriculum is made up of seven area of learning, each containing several aspects of learning. The seven areas of learning are split up into prime areas and specific areas. The prime areas of learning form the foundations on which all other learning is built.
The prime areas are;
• Communication and Language – Listening and Attention, Understanding and Speaking
• Physical Development – Moving and Handling and Self care
• Personal, Social and Emotional Development – Making relationships, Managing feelings and behaviour and Self-confidence and Self-awareness
The specific areas of learning develop essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society.
The specific areas are;
• Literacy – Reading and Writing
• Mathematics – Numbers and Space, Shape and Measures
• Understanding the World – People and communities, The world and Technology
• Expressive Arts and Design – Exploring and using media and materials and Being Imaginative
Characteristics of Effective Learning
The EYFS also includes the characteristics of effective teaching and learning. The Nursery and
Reception teachers plan activities within the Nursery and Reception classrooms with these in mind.
These 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.
These areas of learning and development address children’s physical, cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional development. No one aspect of development stands in isolation from the others as all areas of learning and development are all closely interlinked. This ensures the delivery of a holistic, child-centred curriculum which allows children to make lots of links between what they are learning. All areas of learning and development are given equal weighting and value.
We include direct, carefully planned, adult led experiences for children in the form of structured adult led teaching and adult led group activities. These are particularly important in helping children to learn specific skills and knowledge but it is through children’s play that we see how much of this learning children have understood and taken on. Each day we follow a timetable with set routines in place. This looks quite different in the Nursery and Reception classes. We set aside times each day when the children come together to be taught in the more traditional sense, gathered on the carpet as a class. In these slots we focus on our topic work such as cultural learning, creative activities, learning about the world around us, maths, literacy, phonics, and stories. These sessions help to develop vital habits of learning: learning as a group, listening to the teacher, taking turns to answer, sitting still. In Reception, the morning slots for the first half of the autumn term reflect that of nursery’s learning. The spring term through to the first half of summer term children will have a more structured learning time in the morning, followed by child-initiated learning opportunities in the afternoon slots.
Children also receive specialist teaching each week for Music (30 minutes), PE (2 hours), Spanish (30 minutes) and Art & DT (2 hours combined).
Learning through play is an important part of our Early Years classrooms. We understand that active learning involves other people, objects, ideas and events that engage and involve children for sustained periods. Therefore, we believe that Early Years education should be as practical as possible and our EYFS setting has an ethos of learning through play. We provide children with stimulating, active play experiences in which they can explore and develop their learning to help them make sense of the world. They have opportunities through their play to think creatively and critically alongside other children as well as on their own. They can practise skills, build upon and revisit prior learning and experience at their own level and pace.
Play gives our children the opportunity to pursue their own interests and inspire those around them. The children learn to adapt, negotiate, communicate, discuss, investigate and ask questions. We believe it is important that adults take an active role in child-initiated play through observing, modelling, facilitating and extending their play. Getting the balance right between child-initiated play, which is controlled, and adult led activities is very important to us.
In the EYFS setting at HPAPL practitioners provide both structured and unstructured play opportunities inside and outside. These activities are designed to engage children in practical, first-hand experiences which will support children to discover, explore, investigate, develop their personal interests and areas of curiosity, and help to make sense of the world around them as they begin to understand specific concepts. Play opportunities are also set up to provide children with opportunities to apply newly acquired knowledge, demonstrating their skills and level of understanding.
Partnership Between Home and School
We recognise that learning begins at home and therefore we value the contributions of parents in teaching and learning. Parents are informed on a half-termly basis of the topics covered through a class newsletter, and encouraged to support their children through following the home school agreement. Parents and children are asked to complete homework tasks each week, set for them on Seesaw. Parents are also sent observations of their child on Evidence Me and can respond to these. They are also sent their child’s Mathletics login to continue their child’s maths learning at home. They also receive a school login for Oxford Owl, an online resource for reading books of an appropriate level for their child.
Our online learning curriculum, provided using Seesaw, has ensured that children have not missed out on crucial development steps during the recent lockdowns. We have continued to provide our children with engaging, challenging learning opportunities across the curriculum. We intend to continue to use online learning resources to complement the learning provision in school by setting homework on Seesaw, reading through Oxford Owl and extra maths practice through Mathletics.
Parents as Partners
At Harris Primary Academy Coleraine Park, we recognise the importance of establishing positive relationships with parents, as highlighted by the EYFS framework. We understand that an effective partnership between school and home will have a positive impact on children’s learning and development. So, practitioners endeavour to encourage the regular sharing of information about the children with parents.
Parental involvement with school begins even before children start Nursery or Reception with parent inductions happening throughout the summer term before starting in reception and continuing in autumn for Nursery parents.
Parents are kept informed of what is happening in the setting through half termly newsletters, weekly homework cover sheets and reading records. These give suggestions of how parents can support their children’s learning at home; consolidating and building on what has been covered in the setting. Whole school newsletters are also sent home on a weekly basis. Class newsletters are sent out every half term at the start of a new topic. Parents are invited to attend parents’ evenings throughout the academic year. The first of these takes place during the Autumn term to allow practitioners and parents to discuss how children have settled in. Another parent’s evening takes place during the Spring and Summer terms where practitioners will feedback on children’s learning and progress. Other opportunities for practitioners to share children’s learning, development and well-being include end of year reports and class assemblies where children’s learning and achievements are recognised.
Practitioners also encourage parents/carers to share their unique knowledge of their child, providing further insight into the child as an individual (e.g. characteristics, achievements, interests, experiences, likes, dislikes) by uploading videos or images of them to Seesaw or Evidence Me. This helps practitioners in providing interesting, relevant and stimulating learning experiences, responding to children’s needs, achievements and interests. At the beginning of the year parents/carers sign the Home Agreement to give permission for their child to be photographed or videoed during their time at school. We use these images in the classroom, on displays, in the children’s Special Books and on the school website. Parents also provide an email address and share in the learning experience of their child through receiving photos for their child and returning feedback.
Due to COVID, parents are not currently not allowed on site, meaning all previously encouraged parental involvement within the school building has been put on hold. Parents and carers would typically be invited to get involved with school life. There are opportunities for them to help with activities such as educational visits and reading, as well as offering their particular skills (e.g. cooking, art, music) to support children’s learning. The setting has a friendly, open-doors ethos and practitioners are available to talk to parents at the beginning and end of the day. Parents are usually welcomed into school and encouraged to discuss any concerns they might have. Meetings now take place via Zoom. All parental involvement in school will recommence when COVID measures are relaxed.
We are grateful for the support of our parents during the current circumstances, the success of our online provision has relied on your participation, thank you!