The Early Years Leader and her team have successfully developed the Early Years curriculum to ensure it meets the needs of our pupils in our community. The curriculum is inspirational and aspirational and designed to give all pupils, particularly the most disadvantaged, the knowledge, self-belief and enriching opportunities they need to succeed in life. We promote a practical, playful approach to learning, based on the needs and interests of our pupils, which is delivered mainly through topic-based planning. Through a combination of teacher input and continuous provision opportunities, learning is planned to encourage pupils to develop their learning independently (child-initiated activities) through exploration and challenge. We have also ensured the EYFS team now works more closely with KS1 to develop consistency and cohesion across the year groups as part of the focus on progression and sequencing of all subjects. As a result, there is now a clear school curriculum which reflects our context and ethos and it starts in the EYFS.
The ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ are at the heart of our Early Years Curriculum, to ensure there is a clear progression for all the areas of learning. A significant number of pupils join our nursery from very low starting points, with language (CLL) being often the biggest barrier to learning. Therefore, the offer in the Early Years ensures pupils engage in language and vocabulary rich experiences enabling them to learn new concepts and skills which will prepare them to achieve high standards by the end of Reception (Early Learning Goals).
Our Early Years is effectively meeting the needs of our pupils (see 2018/19 GLD), it is centred on our context and history; baseline information, pre-school experiences, and local environment. We encourage and develop pupil’s confidence by helping them to develop a strong, positive sense of themselves. We build good relationships with our pupils and give them ownership of their environment through pupil voice. This enables them to feel secure in their surroundings.
Our learning environments, both inside and outside are stimulating, exciting, and relevant, giving our pupils the skills to be confident and curious, explore and learn from the world around them. The classrooms are well stocked with high quality books for the different topics. This supports subject-specific vocabulary. The teaching of reading supports pupils to develop their word reading and comprehension skills through high-quality discussion to foster the love and enthusiasm for reading at the earliest stages. We do this through regular 1:1 reading as well as ‘book Talk’ where texts are closely matched to pupil’s abilities and stages of learning. Pupils also enjoy whole class shared reading as well as stories read by their teacher. Author focus and reading events are planned regularly. All home reading is matched to their ability to reinforce the class reading provision.
Phonics are taught to ensure good progression in reading. We also encourage pupils to use their phonic knowledge during their daily focused writing activities. The learning in Understanding the World is intricately linked to the progression of learning in History and Geography in KS1. Writing is developed through mark making, which has a positive impact on developing fine motor skills. We model and encourage writing for a purpose e.g. a shopping list, letter writing, messages to parents etc. Mathematics is taught well as all resources: concrete, pictorial and abstract allow all pupils to access the maths curriculum, feel sufficiently challenged, but not overly anxious, and working to grow their potential to achieve well in maths. The EYFS Leader and the teams have worked together to ensure progression from 40-60 to Y1 and Y2 expectations.
Pupils behave, listen, and concentrate well. They are emotionally secure and develop their characters well, through the learning behaviours that thread through our curriculum. They are curious and ‘have a go’, they are resilient because they remain positive and keep trying, they become resourceful as they learn to make links and solve problems. Monitoring shows that staff are consistent in using observations to feed into planning and provision. We are working on developing the outdoor provision in some of the areas of learning. The engagement with parents and carers begins with home visits and parent’s open days. We also produce an EYFS booklet to inform parents about our offer and how they can support their children throughout the year.
Most pupils achieve well regardless of their starting points. In 2018/19 the school was significantly above national and local data with 81% of pupils achieving ELGs in comparison with the LA and National averages of 72%. Although a much more challenging cohort this academic year, our monitoring indicates that this upward trend could be set to continue, reflecting the improvements we have made to the quality of teaching and provision.
Our pupils talk about what they are learning and explain it, they also take risks when exploring the unknown. Pupils are listened to, respected, and treated with kindness. They work independently to resolve disagreements and can be trusted to make the right choices. Pupils leave the Early Years with a love of reading, leaving reception with good knowledge of blending, word recognition and good understanding of plot and purpose of the story.