Early Years Foundation Stage
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn.”- F Donaldson
The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2017) states ‘The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children's school readiness' and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.’
At Warren Mead, the EYFS curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, provide first-hand learning experiences, allow the children to develop interpersonal skills, build resilience and become creative, critical thinkers.
The ability to learn is underpinned by the teaching of basic skills, knowledge, concepts and values. We provide enhancement opportunities to engage learning and believe that our first experiences of school should be happy and positive, enabling us to develop a lifelong love of learning. We ensure children make good progress from their starting points and prepare them to reach the Early Learning Goals at the end of the Foundation Stage.
Our school community has identified a clear set of values (Ready, Respectful and Safe) that underpin expectations for behaviour for all members of our school family. Every child is recognised as a unique individual. We celebrate and welcome the differences within our school community.
We work in partnership with parents and carers to encourage independent, happy learners who thrive in school and reach their full potential. We recognise the children’s prior learning from their previous settings and their experiences at home.
Children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them. Development is not an automatic process, however, it depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments. The four themes of the EYFS underpin the curriculum:
- A Unique Child - Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
- Positive Relationships - Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
- Enabling Environments - Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and carers.
- Learning & Development - Children develop and learn in different ways. The curriculum covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities. Practitioners teach children by ensuring challenging, playful opportunities across the prime and specific areas of learning and development.
All areas of the EYFS curriculum are followed and planned for to ensure there is a broad, balanced and progressive learning environment and curriculum. The children will learn new skills, acquire new knowledge and demonstrate understanding through the seven areas in the EYFS curriculum:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
- Communication and Language
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design.
These 7 areas are used to plan children’s learning and activities. Planning is designed to be flexible so that a child’s unique needs and interests are supported.
“Play is the highest form of research”
- Albert Einstein
At this stage in a child’s life learning through play is vital, we have a curriculum that is child-centred and is based upon experiences and projects which engage the children. We encourage active learning to ensure the children are motivated and interested. We use the environment to ensure their needs are met through continuous provision, enhanced provision and following their interests.
Daily guided activities are set up and planned that cover different areas of the curriculum and allow children to develop their next steps in learning. Areas of need and next steps are identified for all children to ensure good progress is made. There are also a range of stimulating and engaging activities which the children can access independently through child-initiated play. In planning and guiding children’s activities, we reflect on the different ways that children learn and mirror these in our practice.
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring in both the indoor and outdoor environments. Our outdoor areas are used all year round and in most weather conditions.
We ensure activities support the Characteristics of Effective Learning. This ensures that we are identifying not only what children learn but how they learn. The 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.
Staff teach a learning objective through whole class, small group teaching and going into provision to observe children’s play and move learning forward at that point. They record evidence of children’s learning to build an overall picture and set next steps for learning. Evidence is captured of the children in all the areas of learning. Parent/carers are encouraged to contribute to their child’s learning through Tapestry, our online Learning Journey. This allows parents to see observations of their children at school and add their own comments. It also enables parent/carers to upload photos and videos of the children’s learning at home to share with the teachers. Assessment takes place within every session and helps teachers to identify any children that need more support to achieve the objective and those that need challenging. This may be instantaneous if appropriate.
The EYFS Profile is completed at the end of the year in Reception. Each child’s level of development must be assessed against the early learning goals. Practitioners must indicate whether children are meeting expected levels of development, or if they are exceeding expected levels, or not yet reaching expected levels (‘emerging’). This information is shared with parent/carers and passed onto Year 1 teachers.
At Warren Mead, the impact of the EYFS Curriculum is that all children make good progress from their individual starting points towards the Early Learning Goals at the end of Reception. All children get the best possible start to their school life and develop the knowledge and skills to reach and exceed their potential in KS1. They develop and nurture strong, positive attitudes where they become proud and respectful of themselves, others and their environment. They develop the skills to become successful lifelong learners.