Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum within Valley View Primary School follows the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework 2021 which sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old. We uphold the four guiding principles within the EYFS and we strongly believe it is important that these principles are used when implementing the seven areas of learning and development. We recognise that every child is unique and that they learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships. Furthermore, we believe that children learn and develop best in enabling environments and we recognise that children develop and learn in different ways.
Within Early Years, we encourage our children to demonstrate four key values: Respect, Resilience, Responsibility and Engagement. We provide children with a nurturing and enabling ‘family’ environment where children can feel safe, secure and valued and develop a lifelong love of learning. We intend that our ambitious and inclusive curriculum educates all children in knowledge, skills and understanding, to be effective, inquisitive, curious, independent learners and influence their wider thinking across all areas of the curriculum.
We work as an Early Years Unit at Valley View Primary School with nursery and reception children working together in the same environment for parts of the day. This makes the first few years of education a time of emotional security which builds confidence and resilience and reduces the disruption which may be caused by transition. Children have familiar routines and work with the same team of familiar adults. Staff get to know children and families very well, making it easier to cater for their needs. The unit also allows both older and younger children to work together, providing excellent peer group support.
The school believes in a child-centred approach to early years education with the unique child at its heart. We deliver a motivating and engaging curriculum based on children’s interests and their own experiences as well as introducing exciting new ideas, concepts and experiences to them. We give our children every opportunity to achieve their best. We aim to do this by taking account of our children’s range of life experiences when planning for their learning. We set realistic and challenging expectations that meet the needs of all our children. The curriculum aims to promote independence and resilience whilst ensuring high levels of well-being, involvement and engagement.
Our goal is for all children to feel supported, to take managed risks, to learn from mistakes, to practice and refine new skills and to be challenged in order to reach their full potential. We aim to give our children access to resources, environments and opportunities both indoors and outdoors that invoke a sense of awe and wonder in the world around them.
We follow Development Matters 2021 and deliver the educational programmes for Early Years through the seven areas of learning and development.
The 3 prime areas are:
- Communication & Language
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
The 3 specific areas are:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and design
The seven areas of learning are delivered through a balance of child-initiated and adult-led learning in the form of continuous play and whole class and small group teaching. Play is central to the learning experiences for our children and we adopt a playful teaching approach where high emphasis is given to play based learning and following the children’s interests. Furthermore, our practitioners have a full understanding of the pedagogy of play and we use a range of different methods and techniques for teaching children through play.
Throughout the nursery year, there is high emphasis placed upon the three prime areas of learning which underpins all of the learning throughout Early Years. We are passionate about creating opportunities for children to communicate more easily and effectively through developing language and communication skills and strive to immerse our children in new and ambitious vocabulary daily. We deploy staff throughout our Early Years’ environment both indoors and outdoors so that interaction with children can be at its highest. Communication and Language is at the forefront of our practice and children are immersed in a language rich environment whereby staff place high priority in utilising every opportunity possible to develop and shape children’s speech and language skills. Our staff are highly skilled in developing children’s abilities ‘in the moment’. This highly effective teaching strategy maximises learning experiences for children and challenges children’s thinking and capabilities.
We pride ourselves on our outdoor provision. Children have seamless access to the large and well resourced outdoor area throughout the day and are able to consolidate their learning and apply new skills they have learned within this environment. In addition, children have weekly access to our on-site Forest School provision which allows them to enjoy the freedom to explore and experience the natural world in all seasons and in all weathers and widen their vocabulary and experiences. Forest School embraces an approach of nurturing, supporting and developing the self-esteem and well-being of participants. It is an ideal environment in which to develop innovation, problem solving, risk taking, resilience, creativity and teamwork.
In order to ensure that children are ready to succeed beyond our Early Years, we adopt a more formal approach to learning throughout the Reception year, whilst maintaining a balance of child-initiated play and planned independent learning experiences and challenges. There is a shift to focus more upon the Literacy and Mathematics areas of learning as we aim to ensure that all children achieve their Early Learning Goals by the end of their Reception year. We implement Read Write Inc Phonics and White Rose Maths in addition to the experiences we provide for all pupils through our forest school and seamless outdoor provision. Furthermore, we enhance the environment by adding interesting resources and artefacts linked to the theme and to provide a high level of challenge for the children. Challenges are set for the classroom areas both indoors and outdoors and are designed to stretch children to their full potential.
We recognise that children learn to be strong and independent from secure relationships and mutual respect. We aim to develop caring, respectful, professional relationships with the children and their families and involve them in every aspect of their child’s learning journey. We hold regular termly Stay and Play sessions in school and Parent Workshops to encourage parents to work in partnership with school to support their children’s learning and development.
We pride ourselves as making a huge impact upon children’s learning and progress during their time in our Early Years Foundation Stage. Our children are respectful, resilient, responsible and engaged children who demonstrate ‘school readiness’ and are eager to move to the next stage of their learning. The majority of our children will reach a good level of development by the end of their reception year.
Our children demonstrate high levels of concentration and deep engagement in their learning. They are highly motivated and eager to join in. They share and cooperate well, demonstrating high levels of self-control and respect for others. They develop excellent independent skills and keep on trying hard, particularly if they encounter difficulties.
We have developed rigorous Assessment for Learning procedures that ensure that every child has a learning journey that is unique and personalised to their own needs and abilities. Each child has their own Learning Journal where their learning and development is documented. We do this in collaboration with all Early Years staff, the children themselves and parents. We value the knowledge parents hold on their children and strongly encourage them to contribute to their child’s learning journals through home observation which allows us to build a more accurate picture of children’s development.
We place great emphasis on ‘In the moment’ assessment and this enables us to close the learning gaps quicker for all children by providing them with challenge appropriate to their individual learning needs as the children are learning and playing. It also allows us to accurately assess their next steps for learning to move their learning forward with pace. This is evidenced in our children’s Learning Journals and is a key feature of our day to day practice.
Above all we aim to ensure our children love learning and are happy.