Early Years Foundation Stage Policy
This policy outlines the provision Shepton Mallet Community Infants’ School & Nursery offers to all its pupils in their Reception year. Children within this age range are taught in The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).The Foundation Stage has its own framework and is therefore treated as a separate stage of learning. Where parents are referred to in this policy, that also refers to carers of the child.
At Shepton Mallet Community Infants’ School & Nursery we aim to
- provide the highest quality care and education for all our children
- provide children with a strong foundation for their future learning
- create a safe and happy environment with motivating and enjoyable learning experiences
- enable children to become confident and independent
- value the individual child
- work alongside parents and other adults to meet the needs of children and help every child to reach their full potential
Principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage
As outlined in the EYFS framework ‘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.’
We adhere to the Statutory Framework of the EYFS and the four guiding principles that shape practice within Early Years settings.
- 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, in which their experiences relate to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents.
- Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.
Principles into practice
As part of our practice we:
- Provide a balanced curriculum, based on the EYFS, across the seven areas of learning, using play as a vehicle for learning.
- Promote equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice. We provide early intervention for those children who require additional support.
- Work in partnership with parents and within the wider context.
- Plan challenging learning experiences, based on the individual child, informed by observation and assessment.
- Provide opportunities for children to engage in activities that are adult-initiated and child-initiated, supported by the adult.
- Employ key workers to develop close relationships with individual children.
- Provide a secure and safe learning environment indoors and out.
- Strive 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.
Foundation Stage Curriculum
We plan an exciting and challenging curriculum based on our observation of children’s needs, interests, and stages of development across the seven areas of learning to enable the children to achieve or exceed the early learning goals. All children are taught in small Key Worker groups to enable each child to have the support they need. Many activities incorporate the whole school topic at the time.
All seven areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected 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 they support children’s learning in all other areas. These are the prime areas of learning indicated as follows.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
This area has three sub sections; Making Relationships, Self-confidence and Self-awareness and Managing Feelings and Behaviour. The outcomes focus on children learning how to work, play and co-operate with others and function in a group beyond the family. This prime area covers important aspects of personal, social, moral and spiritual development including the development of personal values and an understanding of self and others.
Communication and Language
This area has three sub sections; Listening and Attention, Understanding and Speaking. These outcomes cover important aspects of language development and provide the foundations for literacy. The Early Years Policy places a strong emphasis on children developing competence in speaking and listening and understanding.
This covers both fine and gross motor development and keeping healthy. Physical development is implicit in all areas of the EYFS framework. Teaching concentrates on children developing physical control, mobility, awareness of space and manipulative skills in indoor and outdoor environments. Positive attitudes are encouraged towards a healthy and active way of life.
The EYFS curriculum also has four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas of learning are as follows.
This area of learning has two sub sections of Reading and Writing. The objectives ensure success in early reading and writing skills. Phonics plays a big part in this area and the ability to blend for reading and segment for spelling are skills that are promoted daily in the Foundation Stage at Shepton Mallet Community Infants’ School & Nursery. All reception children have daily phonics teaching in their Key worker groups, and all adults are confident and well equipped for teaching phonic using ‘Bug Club’ and ‘Read,Write Inc’.
This is broken down into two sub sections; Number and Shape, Space and Measures. These outcomes cover important aspects of mathematical understanding and provide the foundation for Mathematics learning. They focus on achievement through practical activities as well as using and understanding language in the development of simple mathematical ideas. At Shepton Mallet Community Infants’ School & Nursery we use a range of visual and practical resources within maths activities. One such resource is Numicon which enables children to physically see the quantity the numerals represent. The visual and tactile qualities of the resource support pupils in developing a good understanding of quantities and basic number facts.
Understanding the World
This area provides the foundations for learning in Geography, Science, DT, History, RE and ICT. This is a major area of learning and enquiry focusing on children’s developing knowledge and understanding of their environment, other people and features of the natural and made world. The children have access to our Forest School area where they take part in many outdoor leaning experiences.
Expressive Arts and Design
This area provides the foundations for learning in art, music, and drama. This area of the EYFS framework focuses on the development of children’s imagination and their ability to communicate and to express ideas and feelings in creative ways.
Children are provided with a range of rich, meaningful first-hand experiences in which children explore, think creatively and are active. We aim to develop and foster positive attitudes towards learning, confidence, communication and physical development.
Characteristics of effective learning
The characteristics of effective learning describe factors which play a central role in a child’s learning and in becoming an effective learner. They are vital elements of support for the transition process from EYFS to Year 1. The characteristics of learning run through and underpin all seven areas of learning and development, representing processes rather than outcomes. Information describing the child’s characteristics of effective learning will provide Year 1 teachers with vital background and context when considering the child’s next stage of development and future learning needs.
Playing and exploring – engagement
- Finding out and exploring
- Playing with what they know
- Being willing to ‘have a go’
Active learning – motivation
- Being involved and concentrating
- Keep trying
- Enjoying achieving what they set out to do
Creating and thinking critically – thinking
- Having their own ideas
- Making links
- Choosing ways to do things
Organisation of classes
The Reception cohort is divided into two classes. Each class has a maximum of thirty children and in practice rarely go above 25 pupils.
Our Early Years classrooms have defined areas with clearly labelled resources to ensure children can access them easily. Each classroom is set up in a way to provide children with experiences and activities in all of the seven areas of learning.
We have a secure outdoor area that enables free-flow from indoors for all reception children. The outdoor area is an important part of the classroom and the range of activities outside reflects the different curriculum areas.
Each child has their own labelled peg and drawer in their classroom. We encourage children to take responsibility for their own belongings.
Somerset Total Communication is embedded within the school and is used to support children’s understanding of spoken and written language. This is very evident in both Reception classes with labels and signs supported with Communicate in Print symbols. Signing of key words is introduced within the Reception class for regularly used statements and objects.
At Shepton Mallet Community Infants’ School & Nursery planning is divided into long, medium and short term. Long term plans state the topics and areas of learning to be covered for the year. Medium term plans illustrate the objectives being taught each term and how they will be developed through a specific topic or theme. Short term or weekly plans, show specific activities planned to achieve the objectives. We have a two year topic cycle to enable both Key Stages to work together on the same theme. The topics are flexible to allow for following children’s interests, school themes and local or national events e.g. the Olympics. Every half term staff plan the next topic together, and where possible book visits and visitors that will enhance the children’s learning.
‘Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities’
We plan a balance between children having time and space to engage in their own child-initiated activities and those that are planned by the adults. During children’s play, early years practitioners interact to stretch and challenge children further. We plan for and create a stimulating environment to encourage children to free-flow between indoor and outdoor learning.
By the summer term in Reception the children will experience many more adult directed tasks as they prepare for their transition to Year 1.
Observation and Assessment
When children enter the Reception year at Shepton Mallet Community Infants’ School & Nursery, information has been gained from the pre-school settings through visits to the settings, discussions with key workers and with parents. The receipt of EYFS transition documents informs the school which learning band the child was assessed within prior to transition to school. On entry to school this information is referred to in order to support the child with their entry into school. A baseline assessment is also used early in September to gain consistent data on the children’s learning and development at the start of the year. Both the on entry data from pre-school settings and the baseline data are used to inform future planning and to identify preferred learning styles so that the needs of children can be met appropriately.
Assessment is an essential part of the learning and development of children in the EYFS. It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations. As part of our daily practice we observe and assess children’s development and learning to inform our future plans. We record our observations in a variety of ways. Teachers and Key Workers work together to observe, monitor and assess children with regular discussions taking place. Significant observations of children’s achievements are collated in a personal learning journey, and recorded using our online assessment system SPTO. Parents have personal access to the hard copy of their child’s learning journey and can also add information about progress they have observed their child making. In the Autumn and Spring term parents are invited to attend a parents evening to discuss their child’s progress. Also in the Spring term parents are invited to spend a morning in school to see at first-hand how their children learn.
Within the final term of Reception, we provide parents with a report based on their child's development against each of the 17 Early Learning Goals (ELG). The report indicates whether the child is learning at the ‘emerging’, ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’ stage of each ELG. The characteristics of their child’s learning is also reported to the Local authority. Parents are then given the opportunity to discuss these judgements with the Reception teacher in preparation for Year 1.
When final assessment judgements have been made, they are recorded and the data is used to identify progress that children have made during the final year of the EYFS. They are deemed to have achieved a Good Level of Development if they are ‘expected’ within the three prime areas and the specific areas of literacy and mathematics.
Parents as Partners and the Wider context
We strive to create and maintain partnership with parents as we recognise that together, we can have a significant impact on a child’s learning. We welcome and actively encourage parents to participate confidently in their child’s education in numerous ways. Parents are invited to a meeting at the beginning of the school year to inform them about how they can contribute to the learning journeys and the school protocol for using this resource. Parents are also encouraged to contribute information about their child through the use of our ‘WOW cards’. These cards are provided for parents to write significant events that happen at home. These are then celebrated in school and displayed on Parent Partnership boards in each class.
In the autumn term parents are invited into school for information sessions explaining how children are taught to read and write using phonics and ‘Talk for writing’. There is also a maths session which informs parents of the practical approach to learning in maths and the resources used. Both sessions inform parents of ways that they can support their child’s learning at home.
Every term parents are provided with a curriculum newsletter which indicates the areas of learning to be covered throughout the term and the main theme of the learning to take place. This letter also informs parents of any planned visits or visitors into school and also ways that they can support their child’s learning at home. Continuing learning at home is important for the progress that children can make. Children take home key word cards for the phonemes that they have been introduced to and are expected to keep learning them at home. When they have learned them all they become ‘Keyword Kid’ for the day and receive a special certificate. Wordless and then phonic reading books are sent home to support children with their developing reading skills. Parents are asked to record comments in the child’s reading record book about the learning that has taken place at home to inform school staff of progress being made with the activities being sent home.
Working with other services and organisations is integral to our practice in order to meet the needs of our children. At times we may need to share information with other professionals to provide the best support possible.
We draw on our links with the community to enrich children’s experiences by taking them on outings and inviting members of the community into our setting.
Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met, and when they have positive relationships with the adults caring for them. Children’s safety and welfare is of paramount importance. We create a safe and secure environment and provide a curriculum which teaches children how to be safe, make choices and assess risks.
Members of staff use school iPads and cameras to take photographs as evidence to support the regular observation assessment cycle in the EYFS. These photographs are used in children’s learning journeys, in class displays and at times on the school website. All parents are asked to give permission for their child’s image to be used on the school website and in publicity through the paperwork in their initial starter packs.
We promote the good health of the children in our care in numerous ways, including the provision of nutritious food, following set procedures when children become ill or have an accident.
Both Reception classes have a member of staff trained as a paediatric first aider. When on off-site visits at least one of these members of staff will be present on the visit.
The school takes its child protection responsibilities very seriously. Any concerns, which the school has, will be noted and, if deemed necessary, will be reported to the relevant agency. The safety of the child is always of paramount importance. Early Years staff members follow the school Safeguarding policy and complete safeguarding training as required by the document ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016’. The full Safeguarding Policy is available in school for parents to read if they wish.
We value all children as individuals at Shepton Mallet Infants, irrespective of their ethnicity, culture, religion, home language, background, ability or gender. We plan a curriculum that meets the needs of the individual child and supports them at their own pace so that children make good progress form their starting point. Early identification of children with additional needs is crucial in enabling us to give the child the support that they need and in doing so, work closely with parents and outside agencies to meet their needs.
Transitions are carefully planned for and time given to ensure continuity of learning. At any transition, we acknowledge the child’s needs and establish effective partnerships with those involved with the child and other settings, including pre-schools and child-minders. Children attend introductory sessions to Reception in the summer term to develop familiarity with the setting and practitioners. Parents are welcome to stay with their child at our ‘Play to Learn’ sessions. Our ‘Classroom Visit’ is for children to attend without their grown up, enabling them time to explore their new environment with increasing confidence. If children need some additional reassurance about starting school, transition books are made using photographs and picture symbols informing children about their new teacher, key workers, classroom activities and the school building. If the area Early Years SENCo suggests it is necessary, a School Entry Planning meeting takes place to discuss the additional needs of a child and to agree actions to take place in order to support them in their transition into school.
In the final term in Reception, the Year 1 teacher will meet with the Early Years staff and discuss each child's development against the Early Learning Goals in order to support a smooth transition to Year 1. This discussion helps the Year 1 teacher to plan an effective, responsive and appropriate curriculum that will meet the needs of all children.
Monitoring and Review
It is the responsibility of the EYFS staff to follow this policy. The Senior Leadership Team will carry out monitoring on the EYFS as part of the whole school monitoring system.