Our Vision for Early Years
In the Early Years at St Matthew's Primary School our children are happy. They are excited and motivated to learn through rich and challenging learning experiences; opportunities to explore and take risks, and first-hand experiences.
We have high ambitions for all our children and recognise that children have different starting points to their learning. We plan according to children’s stage of development so all can thrive and develop. We aim for children to be well-rounded individuals who are independent, resilient and confident in themselves and with others.
Our partnership with parents means that parents have the opportunity to work closely with our Early Years practitioners to support children’s transition into the setting. We would like parents to feel secure in the knowledge that their child is well cared for and happy at school.
Our parents are welcome to be actively involved in their children’s learning in school and are able to share learning experiences through learning journeys, volunteering and parent workshops. We recognise that parents are the first educators in children’s lives and value contributions to judgements about children’s development. We use this information to support our assessments and share information about what children need to do next to develop and thrive.
What is it like in the Early Years on a day to day basis?
Every day, we provide opportunities for children to come together to share their experiences and have fun. Our children are happy, proud and feel secure knowing that we celebrate their successes and value their achievements. The curriculum is delivered with a balance of child-initiated and adult-led learning.
Our learning environment facilitates child-initiated play and provides children with carefully planned opportunities which allow children to explore, create and learn through exciting, stimulating, interactive and accessible resources.
Early Years Foundation Stage
The EYFS is a very important stage in a child’s life as it helps prepare for school ‘readiness’ as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. Children’s early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs. 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 before the age of five will have a major impact on their future life chances.
The EYFS framework explains how and what children will be learning to support their healthy development and provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.
The EYFS specifies requirements for learning and development and for safeguarding
children and promoting their welfare.
Children will learn skills, acquire new knowledge and demonstrate their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.
Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:
These prime areas are those most essential for a child’s healthy development and future learning.
As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:
All 7 areas of learning are used to plan children’s learning and activities. The professionals teaching and supporting your child at Fielding will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. This is a little bit like the curriculum in the rest of the school but it's suitable for very young children, and it's designed to be really flexible so that staff can follow your child's unique needs and interests.
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside. It is very important that they develop social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing and independence, which help them greatly in the next stages of their learning. The guiding principles that shape our practice in the Early Years are that children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them. Development is not an automatic process, however. It depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments.
This does not mean that all your child's learning is divided up into specific areas. One experience may provide a child with opportunities to develop a number of skills and concepts across several areas of learning.
Phonics teaching and learning are a key part of the Foundation Stage and help to develop early reading and writing skills. The EYFS curriculum is delivered through cross-curricular topics, such as ‘All About Me' , Fairy Stories', 'Under the Sea', 'Animals’ and 'People Who Help Us'. If you visited Reception class, you would see a range of activities taking place such as role-play, practical games, painting, creative work and reading in the book corner. You would also see the outdoor classroom in operation, with equipment such as bikes, cars, sand and water.
Children work and play independently, with a strong emphasis on choice and being able to sustain concentration on projects, as well as joining a variety of nursery nurse and teacher-led activities. We encourage a partnership with parents so they are involved in their children's learning.
There are a total of 17 Early Learning Goals in EYFS:
The Prime Areas
Communication and language
Listening and attention: children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.
Understanding: children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.
Speaking: children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
Moving and handling: children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.
Health and self-care: children know the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.
Personal, social and emotional development
Self-confidence and self-awareness: children are confident to try new activities, and say why they like some activities more than others. They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities. They say when they do or don’t need help.
Managing feelings and behaviour: children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride.
Making relationships: children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.
The Specific Areas
Reading: children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.
Writing: children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
Numbers: children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.
Shape, space and measures: children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.
Understanding the world
People and communities: children talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. They know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this. They know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.
The world: children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.
Technology: children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purposes.
Expressive arts and design
Exploring and using media and materials: children sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.
Being imaginative: children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories.
Assessment plays an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. 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. In their interactions with children, practitioners should respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress, and observations that parents and carers share. To this end we make systematic observations and assessments of each child's achievements, interests and learning styles. We then use these observations and assessments to identify learning priorities and plan relevant and motivating learning experiences for each child.
Each child’s level of development is assessed against the early learning goals (above). Practitioners will indicate whether children are meeting expected levels of development:
Year 1 teachers will have access to the Profile report together with a short commentary on each child’s skills and abilities in relation to the three key characteristics of effective learning. These will inform transition meetings between Reception and Year 1 teachers about each child’s stage of development and learning needs and assist with the planning of activities at the start of Year 1