EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE
Here at St Martin’s, we know that everything that is taught earlier paves the way for what comes later and this journey begins within our Early Years Foundation Stage. We provide our children with a safe, rich and stimulating environment both inside and outside of the classroom, designed to encourage and facilitate a wide range of exciting learning opportunities.
Every child’s very first experience of school life should be happy and positive. It should ignite a love of learning, for both children and parents, and be the start of that crucial partnership between home and school that will support your child to thrive. We focus on developing relationships with parents at every opportunity so that communication feels natural, you can feel confident your child is settled and so that you feel informed about how your child is doing at school.
Every child at St Martin’s is unique, valued and loved, regardless of where they are in their learning journey or any barriers they may have. We support and encourage our children to be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured so that they can let their light shine as they learn and develop. Teaching and learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage is carefully planned to ensure all children make progress from their starting points and are able to achieve. We have a particular focus on developing children’s communication and language skills to ensure they are able to succeed in every area of the curriculum and confidently communicate their thoughts, wants and needs.
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Within Early Years Foundation Stage, we follow the Statutory Framework for Early Years (DfE, 2021). This framework specifies the requirement for the seven areas of learning and development which shape our educational programmes:
In Nursery, we focus on the Prime Areas of learning and development as they are particularly important for building a foundation to ignite children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. There is also a focus on forming positive relationships and becoming more independent.
In Reception, we strengthen and build upon the Prime Areas and also support children in four Specific Areas to ensure children leave us with the knowledge, skills and understanding they will build upon in Key Stage One and beyond.
Our Curriculum is structured using ‘Themes’ that are covered each half term. Each theme includes experiences and ‘hooks’ embedded within to provide our children with real life experiences to talk about and spark learning conversations. Key vocabulary is also taught each half term through key stories, songs and experiences and children have the opportunity to explore and enjoy many books linked to their topic.
Continuous provision, both indoors and outdoors, is available daily to provide the children opportunities to learn through play or embed skills independently. Teachers use the Characteristics of Effective Learning and the needs of the cohort to design engaging, accessible, yet challenging provision. As children access our continuous provision, adult roles are identified to deliver adult focused activities, observe children learning through play and support further learning opportunities as necessary.
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ASSESSMENT IN EARLY YEARS
Regular observations are carried out and collected in our paper learning journeys to create a picture of each child. These observations are used alongside teachers’ professional knowledge to make termly summative assessment judgements using Development Matters (DfE, 2021). Teachers use their daily formative assessments to continuously reflect on children’s learning and needs to inform their short-term planning and we regularly share these assessments with parents. Children are also assessed half-termly in phonics and maths.