Early Years Foundation Stage
The term Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is used to describe children who are in our Nursery and Reception classes.
At West Park Academy our children are at the heart of everything that we do. In Early Years Foundation Stage, we have a child centred approach to the way we plan and deliver our curriculum. Our children are valued for their individuality and we aim to inspire them with a love of learning, encouraging them to make links and recognise similarities in their learning and experiences.
Our curriculum is therefore the cultural capital we know our children need so that they can gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. They can only do that if we embed the right habits for learning through the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning – Play and Exploration, Active Learning and Creative and Critical Thinking. Our children are immersed in a rich environment of words, sounds, rhythm, and verbal and non-verbal expression. All of our practitioners understand the importance of vocabulary in Early Years and how vital modelling vocabulary is for future success.
Children learn through a balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities. Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas.
Our learning environment, including how space is used, which resources are chosen and how they are presented, is crucial in engaging children. We invest time in teaching children how to use and look after the resources to enable them to confidently engage in independent play. We believe that if children have access to a range of resources and see their potential, ideas can be sparked and creative thinking developed. Our environment in an extension of home that promotes awe and wonder.
We take the time to understand the individual children and consider the whole child. Our children are encouraged to explore their own interests and engage in open-ended activities that will give them a love of learning and promote curiosity to explore, investigate, discover and promote independence.
“The basic law of children’s creativity is that its value lies not in its results, not in the product of creation, but in the process itself.” Vygotsky
Learning and development is underpinned by three principles of effective practice:
- Every child is a unique child
- Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
- Children learn well in enabling environments
The prime areas of personal, social and emotional development, communication and language and physical development form the basis of our children’s early development. When children feel safe, secure and valued they can develop their confidence to build positive relationships with others. Through working with their peers, and learning to solve problems that arise, children learn to regulate their emotions and behaviour.
For children to build these effective relationships, they need the skills to communicate. Communication and language underpins all aspects of learning. Children are quickly identified if they need support to develop their communication skills. Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional interventions and support to enhance and scaffold children. For example, The Nuffield Programme for speech and language and Jungle Journey for fine and gross motor development. Young children learn by being active and staff are aware of the significant impact physical skills have on children’s achievement. Developing children’s fine and gross motor skills are a priority.
Resilience is a life skill and staff prioritise personal, social and emotional development and communication and language. Our enabling environment and warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration.
PHONICS AND EARLY READING
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and we believe that the ability to read is vital for children’s success. Early reading is taught through a systematic and structured approach to phonics using 'Letters and Sounds' and is supported through the ‘Story Time Phonics’ scheme. Alongside the formal session, we utilise a range of intervention strategies to close any gaps in learning including ‘Ultimate Guide to Phonics.’
In Nursery, children are encouraged to ‘tune into sounds’ and identify initial letter sounds. As children progress through the year, they are encouraged to orally blend and segment words using a range of physical actions. Children will also be exposed to the phase two sounds they will meet in Reception.
In Reception, we have two daily formal sessions and our provision has been developed to give the children a highly immersive phonics environment. Children will build upon the oral blending and segmenting skills and learn the correct terminology for letter sounds and shapes. They will bring together phonemes and graphemes to begin to read and write simple words. By the end of the year the children will be expected to write a simple sentence or caption using their phonic knowledge.
Reading books are matched carefully to each child’s phonics phase. In Nursery and Reception, children take home a ‘Care and Share’ book each week to share with a parent at home.
In Nursery, mathematics is brought to life through play, number recognition and opportunities for counting. Learning is made real through numerals in the environment and children have the ability for cognitive development at their own pace and through connection of head, heart and hands!
This is extended in Reception as we take on the Mastery Maths approach, combining children’s interests, fascinations and early number skills as well as deepening children’s knowledge of number and numerical patterns. We deliver carefully structured teaching that is complimented by planned time for the children to embed learning through a wide range of experiences.
Children’s chances of success are maximised if they develop deep and lasting understanding of mathematical procedures and concepts. We believe that high quality experiences of mathematics are the entitlement of every child.
We plan and resource challenging mathematical environments indoors and outdoors, where children’s play can be supported and extended. Practitioners can increase and develop children’s mathematical language and communication in their play through sensitive observation and appropriate modelling and intervention. The use of practical resources, every day and real-life situations, offers children contexts that emphasise the role mathematics can play in their everyday lives.
Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND. We spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning. This is achieved through talking to children, looking at their work, observing their learning experiences and analysing data. Evidence of children’s learning includes observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents. The learning partnership between parents and school is supported through our online platform, Tapestry, which enables learning experiences at home and school to be shared.
We believe our high standards are due to the enriched play-based exploration alongside the wealth of knowledge staff have about each child as they move through the early years – a rich diet of balanced learning experiences is undoubtedly the best way to develop happy, curious children.
Please read our policies below for more information.