Our Vision – Aspiring to Greatness
At St Mary’s our Early Years consists of one Nursery class and one Reception class. Our Early Years staff work as a phase which means the children work closely together and learn from one another.
The children in our Early Years 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 expectations for all our children and recognise that they each have different starting points. We plan according to each child’s stage of development so they can all thrive and develop. We aim for children to be well-rounded individuals who are independent, resilient, and confident in themselves and with others.
We enable strong partnerships with parents and provide parents with many opportunities to work closely with our Early Years practitioners to support children’s transition into the setting as well as their ongoing learning. We would like parents to feel secure in the knowledge that their child is well cared for and happy at school.
Our parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their children’s learning in school and at home, and are able to share learning experiences through ‘stay and play’ sessions, online learning journals, volunteering, parent workshops and attendance on school trips. We recognise that parents are the first educators in their 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. Parents have the opportunity to meet formally with their child’s teacher three times during the year to discuss their progress.
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 centred on the children’s interests with a balance of child-initiated and adult-led learning including weekly cookery and offsite visits to local areas such as the fire station and Library.
When in Reception, the children have a Year 6 Buddy which they meet with weekly for learning activities, reading time and other fun activities.
Our learning environment (both inside and outside) facilitates child-initiated play and provides children with carefully planned opportunities, which allow them to explore, create and learn through exciting, stimulating, interactive and accessible resources.
We follow the national Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework.
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 the attitude they have towards learning throughout their life.
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.
The following Prime Areas are those most essential for a child’s healthy development and future learning:
- Communication and language;
- Physical development; and
- Personal, social and emotional development.
As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in the Specific Areas. These are:
- Understanding the world; and
- Expressive arts and design.
All 7 areas of learning are used to plan children’s learning and activities. The staff teaching and supporting your child will make sure that the activities are flexible and suited to 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.
Phonics teaching and learning are a key part of the Foundation Stage and help to develop early reading and writing skills. If you visited Nursery or a Reception class, you would see a range of activities taking place such as role-play, practical games, painting, cutting, sticking, retelling and reading books in the story corner. Children in the outdoor classroom may be riding as bikes and cars, playing musical instruments, experimenting with sand and water or exploring the natural world.
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 adult-led activities.
Early Learning Goals
To find out more about the Early Learning Goals click the link below.