Children in the early years get off to a strong start learning phonics. (Ofsted, 2021)
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.
Subject Leader: Mrs Handford
Governor Link: Mrs Strinati
At St Joseph’s we recognise that the Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS) is crucial in providing a solid foundation for our 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)
At St Joseph’s, we offer a curriculum rich in wonder and memorable experiences. We work hard to provide a stimulating environment that provides exciting opportunities, promotes challenge, exploration, adventure and a real love of learning.It is our intent that all children develop physically, verbally, cognitively and emotionally in an environment which values all cultures, communities and people. We aim for our children to be confident and independent, to believe in themselves and interact positively with others.
We understand that play is an integral part of learning and this is at the heart of our Early Years curriculum. We believe that the correct mix of adult directed and uninterrupted child-initiated play ensures the best outcomes for pupils.
Warm and positive relationships between staff and children, consistent but flexible routines for all our children and strong relationships with parents are key. We recognise the crucial role that Early Years education has to play in providing firm foundations upon which the rest of a child’s education is successfully based.
We believe that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates utilising the Characteristics of Effective Learning:
• 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.
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
Through our school ethos and mission statement of Love God, Love Learning and Love Life our children
The curriculum is taught through topics which are enriched with classroom enhancements, trips and visitors. Topics are supported by quality key texts. These are chosen carefully to encourage children's speech, language and communication development. All planning however, is flexible and responsive to children’s needs so plans can be changed and adapted dependent on children’s interests.
We understand the importance of parental engagement and believe that our parents have a crucial role to play in their children's education. We work hard to create strong partnerships between home and school. Parents receive knowledge organisers each half term to inform them of what their child is learning and to explain how they can support this at home.
As part of the learning and teaching process, children are assessed in relation to their progress towards the Early Learning Goals (ELGs). These judgements are made on the basis of accumulative observations and in-depth knowledge of the children acquired through ongoing assessments.
These ongoing assessments are used to inform planning and next steps in teaching and learning for all children throughout the year.
We prioritise creating a ‘language rich’ environment through the use of songs, nursery rhymes, stories and providing time for quality interactions between adults and between peers. Trained staff ensure that interactions are positive and progressive, allowing children to flourish and gather words at pace in order to become confident communicators. Children are encouraged to become early readers through enjoyment of books and the systematic teaching of phonics through our Success For All programme.
The children develop their mathematical thinking through direct teaching and exploration. We want our children to become confident mathematicians who can apply what they have learnt to real life experiences.
We have built our school environment to enable our children to strengthen their core muscles through physical play, children spend time outdoors in their natural environment whatever the weather.
Our children confidently develop through creative, exploratory, sensory experiences in our mud kitchen, sandpit and taking part in Forest School sessions. Our learning environment is adaptable in order to reflect children's interests and progression. The children are supported to learn to work together, manage their feelings and ask questions through skilled adult facilitated play.
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
• teaching letter formation
• providing opportunities for shared writing with an adult
• 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.
We use the Corner Stones Maestro 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.
Our curriculum and its delivery ensure that children, from their own starting points, make good progress. During their time with us, children make progress towards the national expectation for a Good Level of Development (GLD) at the end of the year. Pupils also make good progress toward their age-related expectations both academically and socially, developing a sense of themselves before transitioning into Year One.
Children develop their characteristics of learning and are able to apply their knowledge to a range of situations making links and explaining their ideas and understanding. Children are confident to take risks and discuss their successes and failures with peers and adults drawing on their experiences to improve or adjust what they are doing. We believe our high standards are due to our carefully planned environment, enriched play-based curriculum, quality first teaching and the rigour of assessment.
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.
To see our Early Years Class in action, please click the link below - Sun Bear Class.