Early Years Foundation Stage

“At Wild Bank Community School we aim to provide a happy, secure, caring atmosphere, a rich, stimulating environment and a broad and balanced relevant curriculum. We aim to provide a stable environment in which all children, regardless of background or ability, can reach their personal highest standards of achievement, with the help and encouragement of staff, parents, peers and wider community”

In the Foundation Stage we aim to:

  • Give each child a happy, positive and fun start to their school life in which they can establish solid foundations on which to expand and foster a deep love of learning;
  • Offer each child a wide range of new and exciting experiences and give them the opportunity to consolidate, explore and test them out along with their own individual experiences in a safe, well managed environment;
  • Enable each child, through encouragement and high expectations, to develop to the full socially, physically, intellectually and emotionally.
  • Offer a structure for learning that has a range of starting points and unlimited opportunity for development;
  • Encourage children to develop independence within a loving, secure and friendly atmosphere;
  • Support children in building relationships through the development of social skills such as cooperation and sharing;
  • Help each child to recognise their own strengths and achievements through experiencing success and developing the confidence to work towards personal goals.

 

The Curriculum

FS1 and FS2 children follow the curriculum as outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) document, which is available to download at

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/299391/DFE-00337-2014.pdf This clearly defines what we teach. The following policy details the specifics of our setting.

 

The EYFS framework includes seven areas of learning and development, all of which are seen as important and interconnected but three areas are seen as particularly important for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, for building their capacity to learn and form relationships and thrive (DfE 2014: 1.3), they support children’s learning in all other areas, they are known as the prime areas.

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 Foundation Stage teachers plan collaboratively with the FS team with these in mind.   They 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.

 

Teaching strategies: We ensure there is a balance of adult led and child initiated activities across the day. Although much of the time is spent with children self -selecting tasks, the interaction between the adult and child is essential as the adult’s response to children builds understanding and therefore guides new learning. The adult’s role is to continually model, demonstrate and question what the child is doing.

In some cases the adult will ask a child to come and complete a task or game with them. At other times they will participate in a child’s game, extending it where possible. By the Summer term in Reception the children will experience many more adult directed tasks as they prepare for their transition to year 1.

Play: Learning through play is an important part of our Early Years classrooms. We believe that a child can learn best from activities and experiences that interest and inspire them.

Using children’s interests as a starting point, 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. We use ‘Childs Voice’, a weekly circle time where children have opportunity to discuss what they have enjoyed and learned this week and what things they might like for next week in a way that can be linked to the current topic.

They have opportunities through their play to think creatively and critically alongside other children as well as on their own. They are able to 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.

 

Teaching: 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 and it is often 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. We set aside times each day when the children come together to be taught in the more traditional sense, gathered together on the carpet as a class or in colour group rooms as family groups. In these slots we focus on our topic work, 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 etc...

 

Reading and story play an important part of the day. We want to make sure our children have a love of books and will leave the EYFS with a bank of stories they know well; both traditional and modern classics. We make sure there is time for whole class story during the day but also that there are many opportunities to enjoy books at other times. Every child is given their own book bag and has one -to-one time sharing books with an adult (although it is fine for others to listen too!). We also have teacher led group guided reading sessions during each week.

 

Planning: We believe many children need to be given a starting point to learn new things and find topics are a great way to fire the imagination. We have a three year topic cycle so all children are working together on the same theme, whether they are January Starters, FS1 or FS2, which are effectively from 3 different year groups. Our Topics all have a Title questions, are seated in Understanding of the World and incorporate the use of lots of specific books and stories. The topics are flexible to ensure we also follow the children’s interests, school themes and local or national events. Every half term staff plan the next topic, and book visits and visitors that will enhance the learning. Staff plan in more detail on a weekly basis using daily notes, observations and interactions with children to inform where the learning journey should move to. Weekly plans are available for parents to view in the classroom and are summarised in the weekly class newsletter. The EYFS plan as a team, with Teachers and Support Staff all attending planning meetings and giving an input whenever possible.

 

Visits and visitors: The part that visits and visitors play in the curriculum at Wild Bank Foundation Stage is given great emphasis. We plan in weekly walks in the local environment, sometimes to further enhance our topic work, sometimes to enjoy the walk and each other’s company. We can travel by train into Manchester or take a coach to the seaside, a zoo or a farm.

We actively seek parental support on trips, aiming for a ratio of one adult for two children in FS1 and a minimum of 1:5 in FS2. For safety reasons we say no to younger siblings coming along on school trips.

 

We invite in visitors bringing minibeasts and animals, new born babies, or information about what it is like to be a fire fighter, grandmas with tales of the past or planetarium owners to show us the wonder of the stars. We often ask parents if they are able (and brave enough!) to share knowledge or a skill, be it cooking, how to bath a baby, painting mendhi patterns on hands or playing guitar.

 

We host half termly parents days, asking parents what they would like to have as the basis for the session. We have hosted phonics for parents training and the opportunity to join in with phonics activities; Christmas Craft Day, Science Day, Games Day and others that are requested by our parents throughout the year.

Classroom organisation: Our Early Years classrooms have defined areas with clearly labelled resources to ensure children can access them easily. The unit is set up in a way to provide children with experiences and activities in all of the seven areas of learning, both indoors and out, although the outdoor area is resourced on a much larger scale to incorporate more robust and vigorous physical activity.

We provide a writing area, maths area, creative workshop area, book corner, role play area, construction area, small world area, outdoor area and several carpeted teaching area. We also have a nurture room, a reading room and a kitchen available for more specific teaching tasks. A variety of activities are planned for and set up in the different areas each day. The adults move to whichever area their focus for the session/day is.

 

The outdoor area is an important part of the classroom with many children choosing to learn outside for much of the day. We try to ensure that the range of activities outside reflects the different curriculum areas, for example setting up quiet spaces for a maths game, reading and for construction.

For FS1 children, physical activity often dominates, with climbing, running, cycling and other active games being key. This play is accessed by all children in the morning sessions, but for FS2 development there is more structured enhancement and emphasis laid on investigation and directed teaching an all areas whilst playing outside during afternoon sessions.

 

Physical Development FS2 children also have time with the sports coach for teacher lead PE activities, whilst FS1 follow music and movement with their teacher in the main hall once a week.

All children have teacher led daily sessions designed to enhance fine motor and pencil control. We provide write dance, digit dance and dough disco to help our children master control of their fingertips and wrist pivot.