Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
“Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.”
At Laughton All Saints', we aim to provide a high quality and exciting Early Years curriculum which enables all the children to have an excellent chance of success during their first years of school. It is imperative that our young children receive the very best education from skilled practitioners, which enable them all to make progress and achieve success in their learning in all seven areas of the EYFS curriculum. We believe that it is essential that any difficulties that the children are experiencing in any area of the curriculum are identified quickly and additional help is provided to ensure that progression is made in learning over time. We want the curriculum to be designed with the interests of the children in mind, with the inclusion of high quality, first hand enriching experiences that will fire their imaginations and begin their love of learning. Ultimately, we want our children to be feel safe, happy and secure within school.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework supports an integrated approach to early learning and care. It gives all professionals a set of common principles and commitments to deliver quality early education and childcare experiences to all children. As well as being the core document for all professionals working in the foundation years, the EYFS framework gives mums and dads confidence that regardless of where they choose for their child’s early education, they can be assured that the same statutory commitments and principles will underpin their child’s learning and development experience.
In brief, the EYFS framework consists of:
3 Prime areas of learning
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional development
4 Specific areas of learning
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
Each of these areas are subdivided and have their own Early Learning Goals against which children are assessed during the summer term of the FS2 year.
Our curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, both from previous settings and their experiences at home. We work in partnership with parents, carers and other settings to provide the best possible start at Laughton All Saints', ensuring each individual reaches their full potential from their various starting points. Our curriculum has been designed to enable children to succeed through the effective characteristics of teaching and learning (Playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically). In addition, there is a strong emphasis on communication and language interwoven and embedded within all other areas of learning.
At Laughton All Saints', we recognise communication and language not only improves academic outcomes, but is a life skill to ensure success and well-being beyond school. Language develops children’s thinking and understanding, which in turn promotes self-confidence, resilience and empathy which support the child’s well-being. Our enabling environments and warm, skillful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration right from the start. We believe that high level engagement ensures high level attainment and therefore adopt a generative learning approach to teaching. We therefore provide an engaging curriculum that maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking. We follow children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school. By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their starting points are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1.
Each half term, EYFS staff introduce a new theme to provide inspiration for learning, whilst providing the flexibility for children to follow their own interests and ideas. Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching during the day. The timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children. These sessions are followed by small focused group work. This means the teacher can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning. 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.
English is at the heart of our curriculum and our aim is to encourage a love of reading right from the start. In EYFS we have ‘Our Favourite Author’ each half term. The aim is to expose children to a range of books that not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their oracy, vocabulary and comprehension. These books will be embedded in our provision through activities, story sessions and on display for children to access independently. Through this, children begin to internalise new vocabulary, language patterns and begin to retell stories.
Phonics We follow the Ruth Miskin Read Write Inc programme to ensure consistency across the school. We work closely with parental partnerships to support the implementation and mastery of the speed sounds, quickly enabling children to encode and decode. Parent workshops and weekly sound sets linked to Ditties are embedded in school and sent home. Children are given books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers.
Our wider curriculum is taught through the learning areas; ‘Understanding of the World’ and ‘Expressive Arts and Design.’ EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s feed into the National Curriculum through our robust planning and CPD opportunities. In reverse, colleagues throughout the school are also aware of the key ELG’s that link to each foundation subject and the progression of the subject with our school KSV’s (Knowledge, Skills, Values). Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. For example, building a boat for their favourite toy enables them to think like a ‘Scientist’ and ‘Engineer’ as they explore a range of materials and test out their own ideas. We have also carefully selected a range of focus artists that we focus on through the year. Building further on our oracy focus, children will be encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology in foundation subjects, and such vocabulary will be modelled, both verbally and orally, by supporting practitioners. Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we have a range of additional intervention and support for children who may not be reaching their potential, or are showing a greater depth of understanding and need further challenge. This includes, for example, sessions for developing speech and language, social skills, fine motor skills, phonics, and mathematics. The EYFS leader ensures staff receive CPD specific to Early Years to develop their practice and we closely work in partnerships across the reception classes. Close attention is given to ‘empathy’ and understanding of one another in terms of differences, diversity and emotional health awareness are promoted by staff incidentally daily. Yoga, morning welcome and circle times are some of the things we adopt to support this.
Identifying Vulnerable Groups
This year we have a higher than usual summer born intake alongside the considerations that surround the COVID-19 pandemic (impacts that have been seen from assessments from the Gov Stat Baseline). Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the EYFS leader ensure staff develop good subject knowledge. Leaders share with staff a full overview of identified vulnerable groups across the cohort, implementing regular monitoring in order to ensure no child ‘slips through the net’. Data in terms of pupil premium, boys, girls, SEND, ethnic minorities and free school meals is closely monitored.
Ongoing Observations: All ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children and excessive paper work. Practitioners draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements through discussions with other practitioners, photographs and physical examples such as a child’s guided group work alongside self-initiated. Some observations are uploaded using Dojo and shared with the supporting parents and carers and to celebrate ‘wow’ moments.
Assessment: Phonic assessments are carried out during each sound phase to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ where possible. In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where teacher judge whether the child has met each of the ELG’s. They will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected.’ Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers, have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher. Impact is also evident through our successful transitions into Year 1.
EYFS staff have a good understanding of the new EYFS 2021 Framework and the over-arching principles of this. Through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects – both core and foundation - children leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey with a love of learning.