To see our Early Years Class in action, please go to Water Class.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Early Years Policy
School Mission Statement
We believe Jesus is at the centre of all we do, say and think as together we pray and worship together.
We are confident, resilient learners who always try our best.
We treat all members of our school community with respect, love and care.
We can learn independently and as part of a team to prepare ourselves for a lifelong love of learning.
We know each of us is uniquely special and all of us are encouraged to use our God-given gifts.
We are open-minded; prepared to take risks with our learning and take on challenges.
We share a happy, safe and healthy environment where all are nurtured and cared for.
At St Joseph’s we believe that the Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS) is crucial in providing a solid foundation for the children to build upon. Providing an excellent start to school life has a long-term positive influence on each child’s future. ‘Research has never been clearer – a child’s early education lasts a lifetime.’ (Teaching and play in the early years – a balancing act? Ofsted 2015)
It is our intent that the children develop socially and emotionally, physically, verbally and cognitively as well as developing a positive attitude to school and learning. We believe that all children should be valued and respected and are passionate about supporting all children to reach their full potential. We believe that an education that does all of this gives children the best chance to become well-rounded, happy individuals, ready to succeed in an ever-changing world. We recognise the importance of giving our children the best possible start to their education by planning and implementing teaching and learning opportunities that supports them in reaching their full potential. We know that our children enter the Reception classes with varied life experiences and we aim to plan teaching and learning opportunities accordingly to address this.
The Development Matters document along with the Foundation Stage Early Learning Goals set out end of reception year expectations for children by the end of the Foundation Stage. St Joseph's recognises the crucial role that Early Year’s education has to play in providing firm foundations upon which the rest of a child’s education is successfully based.
We follow the EYFS curriculum as set out in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. (2017) We believe that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates through:
• 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.
The development of the characteristics of effective learning are supported by the Cornerstones EYFS Curriculum which is carefully designed to enable children to practise and master the necessary skills needed to achieve the Early Learning Goals.
Each activity that is planned is matched to the EYFS ‘Typical Behaviours’ and the corresponding Early Learning Goals and skills.
Characteristics of effective teaching and learning
There are seven areas of learning and development divided into:
Prime areas (Essential building blocks for Specific areas)
• communication and language
• physical development
• personal, social and emotional development
Specific areas (Dependent on Prime areas)
• understanding the world
• expressive arts and design
In addition, as a Catholic school RE forms an important part of our curriculum.
These seven areas of learning and development which are equal in importance are interlinked and depend on each other. They are delivered through well planned continuous provision, daily routines and adult led opportunities. Continuous provision is defined as clearly defined areas inside and outside containing resources that have been planned to reflect children’s interests and to promote the areas of learning and development. These are continuous as they are in place every day throughout the year. We aim for a flexible mix of adult led and child-initiated activities within an environment which is designed to support both. Adult led activities encompass whole class input, small group work and intentional interactions during child-initiated learning. The indoor and outdoor environment both play an important part in providing open-ended opportunities for child-initiated activities where they can learn and practise skills. We provide stimulating resources which are accessible and open-ended so they can be used, moved and combined in a variety of ways. All our resources are meticulously planned to ensure they support every area of learning and development as well as reflecting things children are naturally interested in. Our adults play an important role in developing positive relationships with the children and supporting their learning through ‘communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas together, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges.’ (Teaching and Play in the Early Years: A balancing act? Ofsted 2015)
We support children’s learning in: RE through
• discrete RE lessons
• class, phase and school assemblies
• RE resources in continuous provision
Communication and language through providing:
• a rich language environment
• opportunities for adults and children to interact throughout the day as children engage in play
• learning supported by SFA principles
• Additional support where needs have been identified through our speech and language therapist.
Physical development through providing opportunities:
• to be active
• to develop coordination, control, and movement.
• to understand the importance of physical activity, healthy eating and keeping safe
• to spend time outside every day to build, balance and climb, play games and run.
• to develop fine motor skills using playdough, scissors and pencils, construction resources etc.
• to experience whole class PE lessons as appropriate
Personal, social and emotional development through monitoring our children’s levels of wellbeing throughout the year and making adjustments to raise these where necessary and by helping the children to:
• develop self confidence in a caring and supportive environment
• form positive relationships and develop respect for others
• develop social skills
• learn how to manage feelings
• understand appropriate behaviour in school
• build independence and confidence by giving free access to a wide range of carefully selected resources.
• take responsibility for tidying up and keeping the classroom well maintained.
• encouraging children to link sounds and letters (phonics) and to begin to read and write.
• providing a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials)
• daily discrete Phonics lessons using SFA scheme
• placing books in all areas of the classroom
• providing reading books and the child’s free choice book to take home and share.
• encouraging use of many different mark making materials such as pencils, crayons, felt tips, paints, chalks.
• teaching letter formation
• providing opportunities for shared writing with an adult Mathematics through:
• providing opportunities to develop and improve skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, one-to-one correspondence, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems practically
• providing opportunities to describe shapes, spaces, and measures
• providing Maths resources on a daily basis for children to access independently
• opportunities in continuous provision such as– water play, sand, wooden block play, mud kitchen, construction
• Numbers used as labels in different areas of provision to indicate how many items there should be in a pot.
• Maths rhymes, songs and games
• Daily discrete maths lessons
Understanding the World through:
• opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment
• a well-planned environment inside and outside that provides a wide range of experiences and opportunities.
• Access to the natural world is critical and so they spend time in our woodland area as well as having opportunities in the dedicated outdoor area.
• visits in the local area including seasonal walks along the bridleway next to the school
• visitors invited into the classroom
• access to a range of technology including the interactive screens
Expressive Arts and Design through:
• enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials
• providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings
• a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology
• well planned continuous provision which includes painting, pattern making, modelling, music making and role play.
• teaching the skills needed such as close observational drawing, colour mixing, making music and dance.
Each half term, children will cover a new topic or theme of work, this topic is introduced to the children as the ‘Big Question’ and children are given the opportunity to influence and plan the direction of their own learning. They will learn to identify, what they already know, understand and would like to know about each new topic of work. Each topic is then flexibly delivered through a staged approach incorporating an initial engagement to ‘hook’ the children’s imagination in their new topic or theme of learning. This learning then develops through a series of lessons that builds skills, knowledge and understanding within that topic of learning. At the end of each topic their achievements are celebrated and shared with parents, carers and other family members.
We use the Early Excellence Assessment Tracker to record observations and to track our children’s progress. Assessments and observations are used to plan next steps in learning and to identify and support those children who need extra support or additional challenge.
With the successful implementation of both an enriched, rounded and balanced curriculum and a well-structured, safe, active and challenging learning environment, both indoors and outdoors ,children will be able to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that enables them to be successful learners. All children will have experienced a curriculum that provides, exciting and enriching learning experiences and opportunities for children to learn through educational visits and hands on experiences.
Children will develop a curiosity where they actively ask questions about the world around them and their learning experiences and they will become more resilient see mistakes as opportunities to learn. Our children will become skilful at solving problems and their independent learning skills will be strengthened. Our Children will be successful learners and fully prepared for the next stage of their education as they transition from Foundation Stage to Year One. We will also aim to help children to make sense of the world around them, to develop tolerance, compassion and an understanding of their rights and the rights of others in an ever-evolving world. Children at the end of our Foundation Stage will have developed essential knowledge and skills required for everyday life and lifelong learning. Children at St Joseph's will be well rounded, happy, inquisitive and successful and on the path to becoming lifelong learners.