How our youngest pupils develop a love of learning at St Marys!
In Early Years our intent is to give our children the best possible start to their education by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful learners in Year 1 and beyond. Our aim is for all of our children to reach their full potential from their various starting points.
By the time our children leave EYFS and move into Year 1, we want them to be:
Independent, confident communicators
Resilient, curious learners
Kind and respectful
Creative and open-minded
Responsible and active members of society with high aspirations
Have a good understanding of the Catholic faith and what it means to be a follower of God.
Our Foundation Stage provision offers the necessary balance of ‘teacher-led’ input and ‘pupil-initiated’ learning. We create a supportive, stimulating context in the school indoor and outdoor learning areas for children to play and engage in enquiry, discovery and reflection. We value the importance of outdoor and hands-on learning and therefore ensure that our large outdoor provision inspires learning and creativity every day. We want our children to be confident in expressing their ideas, happy to make independent choices, and keen to explore the world around them. It is here in EYFS that we set down the roots of our curriculum approach at St Mary's Catholic Primary.
It is really important to us that children are encouraged to think and talk about what they are learning and how they are developing, using the language of learning even at this young age. This is an early approach to ‘metacognition’, enabling the children to begin to see themselves as learners and build on their love of learning! We know that St Mary's children love learning, thrive on knowledge and like to bring what they discover at home into the classroom, which we love to hear all about.
Learning habits and routines are very important and we teach pupils how to look after and enjoy the resources around them. We aim to make the learning relevant to children’s lives though our EYFS themes and colourful, engaging, learning environment, and we place the pupils’ individual interests and choices at the heart of the classroom so they feel unique, safe, secure and ready to explore. In our Early Years provision we also focus on supporting our children to become independent. We take time to support the children in being able to take care of their own physical needs, understanding how to keep their bodies safe and healthy, from hand washing to brushing their teeth!
At St Mary's, Our EYFS provision is centred round the children’s all-round development according to the EYFS Framework and Early Learning Goals – development of key skills such as writing, reading and mathematics, as well as essential social, personal, creative, communication and physical development goals. Our carefully planned curriculum takes into account the children’s starting points and is relevant and meaningful to all children in our setting. Our inclusive practice means that all children learn together, with the addition of intervention and support for any children who may not be achieving their full potential, as well as the opportunity for additional challenge for those children who need it.
Each half term, we introduce an over-arching focus to provide inspiration for learning, whilst giving flexibility for children to follow their own interests and ideas. These are carefully selected to ensure that they meet the children’s needs and develop their sense of belonging within our school, wider community, and the world (see below the long term overview for more information.)
Our ‘Prime Areas’
Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development and Communication and Language are at the heart of the EYFS provision and are what our staff concern themselves with every moment of each day to ensure the environment and the relationships are right for each child to flourish as a unique individual.
Recognising the importance of the Prime Areas, the Reception Team also offer a number of interventions to support the children with their listening, attention, speaking and social development.
The key aspects of effective learning set down in the statutory framework are also at the heart of the St Mary's Primary Mission of Live, Love, Believe:
Our pupils develop the belief that they 'can' and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties when learning. They are happy to ‘have a go’ and seek out new challenges with enthusiasm
Pupils enjoy their achievements and progress and love to investigate and explore
Our pupils have their own ideas and are able to make links between their own lives and ideas to develop their thinking
Develop a deep interest in the activities they do, through practice and teacher support
Our pupils experience every opportunity to develop excellent literacy and communication skills through access to a wide range of written, audio and visual material to stimulate their early reading and listening skills and encourage recognition of key sounds, letters and spellings, making an early start on learning new technical vocabulary essential later on in school. We use a wide range of High quality texts (see below for the full list) and make strong links within the environment and continuous provision activities to ensure children become fully emersed in the stories.
By using the Pearson Bug Club phonics and reading scheme materials (including online resources for parents to access), we teach the children the reading skills that will get them on the road to independent reading with lasting impact. Opportunities for reading and writing for different purposes will be given during adult-initiated sessions, as well as being rooted in all areas of our classroom provision, encouraging independent application of new knowledge and skills.
The structure of our phonics offer includes:
Daily discreet whole class phonics lessons.
Follow up small work adult-led session where the children work through a booklet giving them the opportunity to apply the new phoneme they have learnt.
Weekly whole class shared reading lesson.
Weekly lesson focused on reading tricky words.
Daily intervention where needed to help children keep up with their peers.
Phonics working walls and interactive displays to support learning.
Sound mats and opportunities to apply their phonic knowledge available throughout the provision and our dedicated writing corner.
Fully decodable reading books.
CPD and lesson observation for all staff, including LSAs, to ensure consistent, high-quality teaching across EYFS and KS1.
Maths is a favourite subject of many St Mary's children and we know how important it is to make maths fun, ‘real’, engaging and accessible so as to build a lifelong love of the subject and make sustained and rapid progress through primary and secondary phases.
The challenge of maths in EYFS is that first grasp of number and patterns and we use Numicon, amongst a wide range of other teaching resources, such as resources from White Rose and puzzles and games from nrich, to support each child’s exploration in a fun, colourful and enquiry-based way. Numicon allows children to enjoy hands-on, practical mathematics, to ask and answer questions and to problem-solve.
Our staff are trained to make the next vital steps: ‘follow, support, question, stimulate thinking’ by recognising the potential to develop deeper understanding from initial play, by questioning and supporting, observing and recording, using the play as a way into more teacher-led learning stemming from the child’s choices. This is very much focused on children becoming confident with key mathematical skills such as counting, sorting, looking for patterns and using mathematical language. So that children learn about numbers and develop mathematical understanding in an imaginative and enjoyable way much of the work is developed through stories, number rhymes and songs, games and practical activities.
Understanding the World & Expressive Art and Design
These two areas of learning are all about children making sense of the world and making connections, to solve problems, make choices and to communicate their ideas and feelings. To support children’s creative and scientific development, certain skills are taught and opportunities given to develop their ideas, explore and experiment.
The specific areas support the foundations for future work in science, design and technology, expressive arts, history, geography and computing. Practical activities are planned which enable children to learn new skills and to explore, observe and talk about their experiences.
Children are involved in exploring colour, texture and shape; experimenting with paint, drawing materials, collage and clay; exploring and creating the different sounds of musical instruments; using their senses to investigate objects and materials such as sand, water and fabrics; finding out about and identifying features of living things both indoors and out; talking about how things work, for example how and why programmable robots move, and creating simple computer programmes; developing understanding of their own cultures and those of other people; and using different construction kits to build objects they have designed themselves.
As with Key Stage 1 and 2, Reception pupils are taught to think about how they can make connections in their learning and secure knowledge which they will build on as they progress through school. In Reception, the children explore through questioning and challenges, often based around favourite books and stories.
At St Mary's, our children have opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors. Through games and planned activities children are supported to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, coordination and agility. We recognise that gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Therefore, our carefully planned environment gives children the opportunity to develop these skills through digging, sweeping, using large construction resources and riding bikes. We value the links of fine motor control and precision to help with hand-eye coordination and early literacy. To support children to develop proficiency, control and confidence we provide opportunities for our children to to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the to practice using small tools. Throughout the year the children also take part in activities such as forest school, Balanceability and yoga. Through weekly PE lessons, children also develop their multi skills, games, dance, cricket, athletics and football skills.
At St Mary's, assessment is used to ensure our curriculum meets the children needs, interests and abilities. It allows us to assess the impact of teaching, evaluate it and develop future practice.
We spend time talking to the children, looking at their work, observing their learning, taking photos, talking to parents, and analysing data of the year group and individuals.
All members of staff contribute through observational assessments and our weekly planning meeting enables us as a team to feedback. Here we plan learning experiences and next steps so that knowledge and skills are built on and progress is made. Children who need extra help are identified and support is put in place.
Throughout the year assessment takes the form of:
At St Mary's we believe that all children deserve to have an equal chance of success. Our inclusive practice means that all children learn together, with the addition of intervention and support for any children who may not be achieving their full potential, as well as the opportunity for additional challenge for those children who need it. Our detailed transition programme and clpse links with our on-site pre-school means we know who will need extra support before they even start with us. We use a range of strategies that are integrated into our learning environment, daily routines and adult led activities to ensure that all children receive a broad and balanced curriculum suitable to their needs. At St Mary's children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are identified quickly. All children promptly receive any extra help they need, so they can progress well in their learning.
Our curriculum and its delivery ensure children make good progress from their individual starting points in all areas of the EYFS curriculum. We strive to ensure our children make rapid progress and as a result achieve a Good Level of Development by the end of the year. Due to our high expectations our results are typically in line with national. The impact of our curriculum will be seen as our children demonstrate their enjoyment and engagement in their learning as they investigate and explore their daily provision. They will be able to appreciate and understand the world around them due to experiencing and learning about different cultures, celebrations, music, dance, art and history. Through creating and developing their own ideas, the children in Early Years will cultivate a series of strategies and skills to support their emotional resilience, learning and development across the curriculum.Children will leave Early Years as successful learners who are fully prepared for the next stage of their education as they transition into Key Stage One. They will not only have the essential knowledge and skills they need to access the National Curriculum but with have the confidence and resilience to continue their life-long learning journey.
A typical day in EYFS…
At St Mary's, we value the important role parents play in the education of their child. Therefore, the positive relationships we build with them are crucial to develop a strong partnership. We believe this sets the scene for children to thrive in early years and beyond.
To find our more, please come and see us in action! We hold regular open monrings and afternoons but welcome tours at any time that is convientent for you! Please contact the school offer for more information.