“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 in the Early Years, July 2021
At Ashton Vale Primary School our vision is to build a community where children feel safe, supported and enthused by an inspirational curriculum so that learning can be maximised. We believe that success is built on a strong foundation of human values such as kindness, courage, equality, aspiration, responsibility and collaboration.
In reception we value the importance of the unique child and we utilise reflection of their development, prior knowledge and interests to make progress with learning. We understand that children may be at different stages and we support them with their own progression of skills and understanding in areas of learning. Above all, we believe children should feel happy, confident and safe.
We intend to ensure
- That the early year’s practitioners have secure and consistent values embedded and this is evident by what they do. Across all parts of the provision, practitioners’ interactions with children are of a high quality and contribute well to delivering the curriculum intent.
- That children access an ambitious curriculum that inspires, motivates and engages, which gives them a range of knowledge, skills, experiences and learning behaviours needed for success through school and life. It is designed to give children, particularly the most disadvantaged, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
- We understand children’s interests and needs, to deliver the above, to ensure the curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced. We provide opportunities throughout the year to consolidate and deepen knowledge to ensure children have a secure understanding of each concept before they rush to the next step. Through this child centred approach, children have the confidence and skills to make decisions, self-evaluate and make connections to develop an intrinsic lifelong love of learning.
- Children learn to love their learning and develop the abilities to love each other. Every child is included and supported through equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice.
- Respectful partnership working between the school team and with parents and/or carers, they have a central role in the children’s lives.
- Community involvement contributes to our curriculum and children celebrate traditions, gain experiences and learn new skills they take an active role in events throughout the year.
- We work as an effective practitioner team, where wellbeing is prioritised and we have clear lines of communication.
- That throughout their time in Reception, our children develop a sense of belonging to our school community ready to transition to year one the following academic year.
We develop ambitious curriculum goals, plan experiences and carefully consider the environment to meet children’s needs and interests. We use the EYFS framework as our foundation and ‘Birth to 5 Matters’ and ‘Development Matters’ documents to shape and enhance our practice.
The EYFS Framework includes seven areas of learning and development that are equally important and inter-connected. However, three areas, known as the prime areas, are seen as particularly important for igniting curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and for building children’s capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. Each of the seven areas are broken up into strands. We consider these as the foundation when planning our curriculum.
The prime areas are:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Managing Self
- Building Relationships
- Communication and Language
- Listening, Attention and Understanding
- Physical Development
- Gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills
The prime areas are strengthened and applied through four specific areas:
- Word Reading
- Numerical Patterns
- Understanding the World
- Past and Present
- People, Culture and Communities
- The Natural World
- Expressive Arts and Design
- Creating with Materials
- Being Imaginative and Expressive
Underpinning all learning and development is how a child engages with other people and their environment. These behaviours are known as the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning:
- 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
We encourage these characteristics by taking into account the interests and the needs of the children, the environment and relationships with adults and peers.
The educational programmes form the foundation of our curriculum and we have considered each of the seven areas of learning within the programmes to develop our curriculum goals. We also use the ‘Birth to 5 Matters’ and ‘Development Matters’ non statutory guidance to inform our practice and shape our curriculum. We have considered the skills children need to have to be successful with our goals and we support them with their own progression with this. Termly ‘experiences’ are also planned which helps to make our curriculum purposeful and relevant and promote cultural capital.
Acquisition of knowledge and experiences over and above this is considered in terms of the cohort, individual needs, interests, development and the knowledge and enthusiasm children bring from their homes and communities. This part of the curriculum decision-making is dynamic, intentional, responsive and anticipatory and moves flexibly to and fro across the continuum of adult-led and child-initiated activities.
The importance of providing time for genuinely free play that is free from adults’ plans and purposes and that is for children’s meanings and purposes is also considered and this is carefully balanced across the year.
Adult Led Learning
Adult led learning may take the form of whole class teaching, group sessions or 1 to 1 learning led by the class teacher or learning support assistants. These are focussed on teaching children specific knowledge, skills or experiences. There is also an emphasis on encouraging behaviours that are supportive of learning. These sessions are designed to be at the beginning and end of transition times in order maximise child led learning time and minimise interruption of deep learning.
Child Led Learning
Child led learning may take the form of play and exploration, it is where children exploit the environment and follow their own lines of enquiry. These sessions allow for longer periods of uninterrupted time so children have the opportunity to deeply engage with their learning.
Practitioners play an important role in child initiated play. They carefully observe to try to understand the child’s development and interests. They use then use this information and may teach by communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges whilst being careful not to interrupt or interfere with children’s own lines of enquiry. Sustained shared thinking may also be utilised which involves children and practitioners being ‘partners’ in play, whilst also fostering positive relationships between child and practitioner.
This is constructed with the cohort of children we have and our environment planning is underpinned by assessment, through observation, to identify children’s interests, strengths and gaps. We then consider common play behaviours in areas of the environment and plan resources to get the most out of learning, with reflection on the need to support and challenge. These common play behaviours are considered in terms of levels of development: emergent, middle and high. Furthermore, our provision has many open-ended resources to enable children to access learning at their own level and based on their own agenda and it is enhanced based on children’s interests. We value the outdoor environment and the positive impact it can have on children and they have access to the indoor and outdoor classroom during all child initiated times. We also take part in regular outdoor learning ‘welly days’ which support teaching of specific skills and experiences outdoors.
We believe that building positive, trusting relationships with families and children is key to their emotional, physical and cognitive development. We visit families in their homes to begin developing relationships before children start school. We learn about families culture, beliefs, excitement and anxieties and work with them to promote a positive start to school.
We encourage families throughout the year to let us know about things that are happening in their home lives and share their knowledge of their child’s development; this is through more formal focus forms, via regular parent meetings, class dojo online tool and informal chats in person and on the phone. The early years team regularly meet with parents to update them with their child’s development and discuss any strategies that can foster a love of reading, specifically at home. We encourage any families who are keen to be involved in school life to play an active role, such as talking to the class about their job or culture, volunteering to read with children, helping with trips, enhancing our role play areas, growing things in our allotment, being a mystery reader for the class, becoming a member of the PTA.
We also promote a strong feeling of a school community within school; for example, we share play and lunch spaces with year one and two, we take part in a Christmas production with other classes, we attend whole school celebration events, we perform a mother’s day assembly for the school, we have joint storytimes with other classes, we have junior buddies come and join in our play and read with us.
Overall children should know and remember more and feel happy and safe to come to and be at school. Children from all backgrounds, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, do well and children with SEND achieve the best possible outcomes. Parents and staff feel connected and supported.
- Children develop detailed knowledge and skills across the 7 areas of learning and apply this appropriately. They can articulate what they know, understand and can do in an age-appropriate way, holding thoughtful conversations with adults and their friends. This is measured by assessment procedures which allow us to measure outcomes against all schools nationally. We measure the percentage of pupils achieving a Good Level of Development (GLD) by the end of the Reception year.
- The impact of our curriculum will also be measured by how effectively it helps our pupils develop into well rounded individuals who embody our values and carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners and valuable future citizens. We endeavour for pupils to have this embedded by the time they leave Reception. Children demonstrate this through being deeply engaged in their work and play, sustaining high levels of concentration and thoughtful and sensitive interaction with their peers and adults. This demonstrates their readiness for future school life into year one.
- Children develop their vocabulary and understanding of language across the EYFS curriculum. Children consistently use new vocabulary that enables them to communicate effectively. They speak with increasing confidence and fluency, which means that they secure strong foundations for future learning, especially in preparation for them to become fluent readers.
- Practitioners and parents feel respected and supported in which effective communication is fostered.