Early Years Foundation Stage
“When we give every child the best start in their early years, we give them what they need today. We also set them up with every chance of success tomorrow.” Development Matters [DfE, 2021]
At Oakwood we are incredibly proud of our Early Years environment and curriculum. Pupils always achieve highly with us due to expert teaching and the dedication of our highly professional team. Our setting is often recommended as an example of excellence.
Year R is part of the Early Years Foundation Stage. This is the statutory framework that sets the standards that all Early Years providers and schools must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children are ready for school and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.
Four guiding principles shape our practice in Early Years.
- every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
- children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
- children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults who respond to their individual interests and needs, and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between teaching adults and parents and/or carers.
- the importance of learning and development. Children develop and learn at different rates and we take care to meet the needs of all children in Early Years, including children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
In the Early Years children will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through seven areas of learning and development. Children will usually develop the three prime areas first. These are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
These three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. Children in Early Years are also supported in four specific areas. These are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
Our Green Oaks Early Years Curriculum
At Oakwood Infant School, we intend to give our children a secure and confident start to their school life. We are committed to nurturing a lifelong love of learning alongside the aims of the EYFS statutory framework. We strive for high standards, consider the development of the whole child and seek to foster resilience and independence. We have high standards for all our children, and aim to provide an inspirational curriculum based on real life experiences that are relevant to children’s interests and stages of development. We aim to give all our children a positive start to school and a firm foundation for learning for the rest of their lives.
The Oakwood Early Years curriculum encompasses our school values and we carefully plan our curriculum to meet the following aims:
- To foster a love of learning which inspires curiosity, awe and wonder
- To ensure all children have access to high quality learning opportunities so that they know more, remember more and can do more over time
- To provide parents/carers with the opportunity to develop their child’s learning at home
- To develop a knowledge and understanding of the local community and wider world in preparation for becoming responsible global citizens
- To have a good level of development so that they are ready for the next stage of learning in Key Stage 1
Through our Early Years curriculum we foster and strengthen the Characteristics of Effective Learning. Characteristics of Effective Learning describe behaviours children use in order to learn. To learn well, children must approach opportunities with curiosity, energy and enthusiasm. Effective learning must be meaningful to a child, so that they are able to use what they have learned and apply it in new situations. These abilities and attitudes of strong learners will support them to learn well and make good progress in all the Areas of Learning and Development.
The three characteristics of effective teaching and learning 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.
Learning at Oakwood in the Early Years
“Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, relate to others, set their own goals and solve problems. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.” Early Years Framework
At Oakwood Infant School, the EYFS teachers carefully plan what the children learn in the classroom. They do this by structuring provision so that the children, through purposeful, interest led play, alongside direct teaching, extend their knowledge and understanding.
Each day is planned to stimulate children’s interests, respond to each child’s emerging needs and guide their development through warm, positive interactions coupled with secure routines for play and learning.
As the children develop and their skills progress throughout the Reception year, we use more direct teaching and modelling and plan specific sequences of lessons. These strategies help us to focus on teaching the skills and knowledge in the specific areas of learning so that the children make good progress from their starting points and are ready for the next Key Stage of learning.
We achieve this through:
- Direct, quality first teaching in all areas of learning with an emphasis on building secure knowledge in the specific areas of Literacy and Mathematics
- Targeted intervention for pupils who require additional support
- A sharp focus on improving outcomes for pupils vulnerable to underachievement including disadvantaged pupils and those with Special Educational Needs or Disability
- Stimulating learning environments indoors and outdoors that is led by the children’s interests
- Well planned and organised continuous provision which allows the children to learn through play
- A carefully planned balance of adult-led and child-initiated learning opportunities
- Promoting a love of learning through real life experiences and opportunities to build on prior learning
- Systematic approaches to teaching phonics and early reading with high quality phonics teaching starting as soon as children begin in Year R
- Opportunities for children and families to develop a love of reading
- Strong parental partnerships which empower parents to support their child’s learning at home
- Partnership working with local pre-schools and nurseries to support a smooth and settled transition into school
- Multi-agency working to support pupils and families in education and at home
Seven Key Features of our Early Years Practice
At Green Oaks we are exceptionally proud of our Early Years Practice that enables our children to have a confident and happy start to their education at Oakwood. All children are part of a class team with a minimum of two key adults. Although children spend some time learning in their class teams they also have opportunities across the school day to learn and play across the Year R environment. There are seven key features that underpin our provision and practice:
The best for every child
All children will be given an equal chance of success. We have high aspirations for all children and approach their learning journey in a way that is appropriate for each unique individual. We ensure that all children have access to high-quality early education. We pay particular attention to those children from disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure we can ‘narrow the gap’. We provide high-quality early education and care which is inclusive for all children. Children’s special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are identified quickly. All children promptly receive any extra help they need, so they can progress well in their learning.
Our staff ensure that the children’s experience of school is the central focus of thinking. We ensure our young children are well cared for to enable them to thrive. Care at Oakwood is consistently of the highest quality and all adults enjoy spending time with young children and this is reflected in their interactions with children. Adults are responsive to children’s needs and ensure that they form effective and positive relationships with all children. They actively support children to develop their independence, resilience and confidence.
Our Early Years curriculum is well planned to ensure we identify what we want the children to learn and know. We ensure our planning helps every child to develop their language and communication skills, personal, social and emotional development, and physical skills. We understand that these prime areas of learning need to underpin everything we teach and do with the children and allows them to build their knowledge and understanding in the specific areas of Literacy and Mathematics.
The curriculum is ambitious. We take time to carefully sequence our teaching to allow all children to build their learning over time in readiness for Key Stage 1. Planning is flexible to ensure children’s interests are used to drive the children’s learning and development. We value the children’s ideas and interests by following a “Floor Book” approach where children contribute their own thoughts and ideas on what they have enjoyed learning and would like to learn next. Children will also have the opportunity to engage in weekly PE sessions, Religious Education and Early Years assemblies.
Pedagogy – how we teach
At Oakwood we want every child to make progress in their learning, with the right help. We utilise different approaches and interventions to make this happen. Children learn through play, by adult modelling, by observing each other, and through guided learning and direct teaching. Adults take time to carefully plan and organise an enabling environment for high-quality play, teaching and interaction. Children in our Early Years also learn through group work, and guided teaching with opportunities to consolidate or deepen their learning. We also plan targeted intervention groups for children who need additional support or teaching in either the Prime or Specific areas of learning. This includes speech and language, social communication, phonics and early reading
All children are assessed on entry to Year R using the Early Years Baseline Assessment. Teachers use this and their own observations to help to understand each child’s starting points and plan the next stage of their learning journey. During their daily and weekly interactions with the children all adults are able to notice and assess key learning and knowledge and plan for next steps or additional support. Each term we have milestone checkpoints where teachers assess children’s learning in all areas to inform planning and identify children who need additional support. Our Assessment is based upon a secure knowledge of child development and the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Curriculum. The Inclusion Leader for Oakwood also uses observations and specific assessments to highlight whether a child has a special educational need or needs extra help. At the end of Year R, all children are assessed against the Early Learning Goals in all areas of learning. The Early Learning Goals give teachers and parents the level of development children are expected to have attained by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
As part of our Personal, Social, Emotional Development teaching we support each child’s ability to:
- hold information in mind
- focus their attention
- think flexibly
These abilities contribute to a child’s growing ability to self-regulate. This means that they are able to:
- concentrate their thinking
- plan what to do next
- monitor what they are doing and adapt
- regulate strong feelings
- be patient for what they want
- bounce back when things get difficult
Partnership with parents and carers
At Green Oaks we pride ourselves with the partnership that we have with parents and carers. This starts in Year R and we ensure that we have a strong and respectful partnership in the early years which enables children to thrive. We listen regularly to parents and give parents/carers clear information about their children’s progress through face to face opportunities, our Newsletters and website and electronically via our electronic learning platform, Seesaw. Parents/carers are invited into school for regular parents evenings and information sessions to provide an update about their child’s learning and progress. We actively encourage families to support their child’s learning and development at home as this has a significant impact on their child’s learning.
Children with SEND or additional needs have in-depth ‘shared conversations’ to ensure targets and progress are shared. We are flexible in our approach to communicating with parents/carers and adapt our communication methods to suit different preferences.
When children accept a place at Oakwood we take the time to ‘get to know’ and understand the children and their families through our transition programme. This helps us to offer support as needed. This includes home visits (in person or virtually) before the children start school in September. Our transition programme and our ‘open door’ policy provides the foundation for strong and effective partnerships with parents.
Starting at Oakwood
At Green Oaks we understand that starting school is a big event for both the child and their parents or carers. We therefore offer a full transition programme in the summer term before starting school. We call these our Acorn Visits and includes the following events:
- Come Outside! - This is an opportunity for parent/carers to meet a member of the Year R team and take part in some fun activities outside with their child.
- Stay and Play - At this Acorn visit we invite parents/carers and children to come into Year R and stay and play together as part of a small group.
- Letting go - At this Acorn visit we encourage parents/carers to leave their child in the capable hands of our Year R staff to have a session at school on their own.
- First steps and Information Event - This is a chance for children to have a session at school on their own and parents/carers to join our Friends of Green Oaks and senior leaders in the hall for an informal information session to hear about getting ready for school and joining Green Oaks.
We also hold annual Open Mornings for prospective parents and carers and these dates are shown on our Green Oaks website. However you are welcome to enquire about places and book an appointment to look around our school at any time. We look forward to welcoming you to Year R and Oakwood.