Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. Early Years learning concentrates on the 7 areas of learning, split between prime and specific areas of learning
∙ Personal, social and emotional development
∙ Communication and language
∙ Physical development
∙ Understanding the world
∙ Expressive arts and design
At Writtle Infant School, we have two well balanced Reception classes. These are built on our knowledge of the children and consider their age, friendships and views of all those involved with them including their pre-schools. We have two classrooms and a dedicated outdoor area.
The classrooms have a variety of free choice provision and areas for the children to access. They are led by two experienced teachers and are supported by a team of skilled teaching assistants. Staff are organised to support the children in a balance of adult-led and child -initiated experiences throughout the day and the children have free flow access to outdoor learning and provision. They can also go in the parallel class and all adults work with all children.
The experienced team plans a variety of exciting learning opportunities each day, we also take planned learning (Focus Child) into play as well as responding to unplanned themes or topics that interest the children. We aim to provide a curriculum that is flexible and responsive so we can respond to the needs and fascinations of each cohort.
In our Reception classes at Writtle Infant School, we aim to provide a high quality EYFS education giving children a secure and confident start to their school life. We are committed to nurturing a lifelong love of learning alongside the aims of the EYFS statutory framework. We strive for high standards, consider and respect the development of the whole child, and seek to nurture them and foster resilience and independence. We understand the crucial role that ‘play’ provides and how it is vital for children’s development. We weave the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ throughout our practice and we are inclusive and welcoming to all. Positive whole school HIPIP values are embedded in all that we do. We aim to provide the essential knowledge that children need to prepare them for their future success and to give children the best possible start to their early education. To do this we plan our curriculum so that it can:
- Broaden minds and children’s outlook on life
- Provide experiences of awe and wonder
- Reduce disadvantage
- Consider children’s backgrounds and experiences
- Provide children opportunities to develop their sense of wellbeing and ability to regulate their feelings so that they feel confident in our community and are equipped with all the tools they need to transition to Year 1 effectively
- Develop knowledge, skills and understanding that is ambitious and prepares them for their next phase of learning.
Play, Scaffolding, Modelling and Directed Teaching
How do we teach children in EYFS?
In our classrooms, you may see children playing alone or with their peers, deciding on resources and choosing how to spend their time. You may see a child playing and listening to an adult, who is modelling how to achieve something or teaching a new skill.
Adults may scaffold children’s play. This involves taking their play to higher levels of learning, entering the play as a co-creator, and helping to provoke a framework for the children to go from “What they know” to “what else they could know”! Scaffolding enables a child to solve problems, carry out tasks or achieve a goal which is just beyond their capabilities. During play, where foundational social and emotional skills are developed scaffolding is a bridge to new skill levels using three key ingredients:
- modelling the skill,
- giving clues and asking questions and being inquisitive while acquiring the new skill
- as the child approaches mastery, withdrawing the support.
The new statutory framework does not prescribe a particular teaching approach. The DFE (2021) states in the framework (p16) that “Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, relate to others, set their own goals and solve problems. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.”
At Writtle Infant School the EYFS team work closely together to plan what we want our children to learn and use Poetry Basket to introduce new themes across the weeks. We decide what this may look like in our classrooms, through our provision and the most effective ways to teach it. Each day we stimulate the children’s interests, respond to each child’s emerging needs, and guide their development through warm, positive and genuine interactions coupled with secure routines for play and learning. As children grow older and develop their skills throughout their Reception year, we use more direct teaching and modelling and plan specific sequences of lessons. These strategies help us to focus on teaching the essential skills and knowledge in specific areas of learning so that children develop the skills and confidence required for the end of their Reception year and beyond. We follow a cycle of ‘In the Moment Planning’, we have 3-5 focus children a week to observe, interact with and teach. We spend a little more quality time with these children to develop their learning and development through targets we chose as a team the week before their focus week.
The Statutory EYFS Framework
The Early Learning Goals (ELGs) are the knowledge, skills and understanding which young children should have acquired by the time they reach the end of their Reception year.
|Prime Area of learning||Specific areas of learning:|
|Communication and Language Development||Literacy|
|Personal, Social, and Emotional Development||Mathematics|
|Physical Development||Understanding the World|
|Expressive Arts and Design|
Planning in the EYFS
Our planning focuses on the children’s needs, their interests, and their stages of development. We seek opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and to make links between areas of learning and plan next steps accordingly.
We deliver the curriculum through a mixture of continuous and enhanced provision, ‘In the Moment Planning’ as well as adult directed-learning to enable the children to build on what they already know. In class the children may be taught as a whole class, in their year group, in small groups or as individuals to ensure that all children are progressing from their own individual starting point.
Effective Teaching and Learning
We encourage the children to guide us in shaping their learning experiences. During their ‘Focus Week’ the team discusses with each child the things they are interested in and which skills they would like to develop further. We also ask their family to make an observation on Tapestry, to tell us about their likes and dislikes, anything they are interested in or can do now and anything they or the family are worried about. Adults in school meet each week to discuss the ‘Focus Children’ and take into account all views. This way of working allows all adults to know what stage of learning and development the children are at so we can all build on their knowledge, skills, ideas and interests. Adults also offer children opportunities to try new skills and experiences because children don’t always know what they don’t know. It is our job to open minds and try new possibilities. We believe that learning should be endless and there is no cap to learning! Children are encouraged to bring books and resources linked to our learning into school to share with their peers. We develop children’s curiosity and encourage inquisitiveness and a hunger for learning and find ways to answer many of the children’s on-going questions!
We provide a challenging, exciting, and attractive learning environment that offers high-quality opportunities for the children to learn through play within the classroom and outside. Both classes have continuous provision that is designed to offer practical, open-ended learning opportunities where children are enabled to think creatively and imaginatively. The children are supported to explore how resources can be adapted and use skills in a variety of contexts. We develop problem solving skills through open ended tasks and resources and always encourage a sustained shared thinking approach where ideas are shared and challenged.
Working with Parents
Working in Partnership with Parents
We value the contribution that our parents and carers make to their child’s learning and take every opportunity to work in collaboration with them. We provide opportunities for parents to complete an ‘All about Me’ booklet with information about what the children like to do and examples of their name writing and counting skills. During the term before the children start school, they are invited with their parents to come into school for stay and play sessions. This is where we begin to develop the trusting and secure relationships with the children which will continue to grow throughout their Reception year and beyond. We visit the children at home during the week before they start school, so that each child can meet us in their familiar, safe space. During these visits we ask the parents about any concerns and any likes/ dislikes and the children love to show us their favourite toys. In this way we gather as much information as we can before children start at our school. Within the first half term , parents are invited to a picnic and play session, where they join their children in free flow, self chosen play in our classrooms and garden, followed by a picnic lunch all together in the garden. During the year we hold four sessions of ‘Family Learning Time’ in which parents are invited across the school to explore learning in more detail, working alongside the children in practical paired tasks. We encourage all parents to add observations from home via Tapestry and paper ‘wow’ stars so we can gain a wider view of their child. Parents are alerted when it is their child’s ‘Focus Week ‘ and invited to share current information with us such as likes and dislikes and special interests. In the Autumn terms we hold parents’ consultations and in the summer term we send home detailed reports.
Early reading and the development of vocabulary are at the heart of our curriculum. Our phonics scheme ‘Bug Club’ ensures children learn to read in a systematic way. Phonically matched books are part of this process. Reading development is carefully monitored so that reading fluency and comprehension is achieved. The children take home reading, phonics and storybooks to share with parents and carers. They are asked to sign a ‘Lucky Listener’ card to encourage children to re-read their books as we know this will develop fluency in their reading. We also provide phonics and maths workshops for parents to attend so that they can learn how to support their child at home. Parents are invited to join their child at our end of year visit to Hylands Park, where we take part in Forest School type activities and challenges. Tapestry is used to record ‘wow’ moments in learning, to share exciting activities with parents particularly through weekly Tapestry Challenges, and to communicate forthcoming learning so it can be explored or consolidated at home.
Community Links and the Wider World
Over the year, we arrange visits from members of the local community to discuss their jobs and careers. We also arrange trips within the local community ,for example All Saints Church, Writtle library and Hylands Park. Parents are always welcome to support us by accompanying our trips, walks and visitors.
We encourage the children to support local and national charities that have special links with our school and our community. This provides opportunities for reflection and discussion and gives our children a voice when topics can be hard to absorb or understand.
Film clips, non-fiction texts and artefacts are also used to introduce new concepts in real-life contexts. We aim to develop children’s awareness of other cultures by exploring different countries and celebrations through our learning themes, Religious Education and the people within our own community. Parents who speak different languages are invited to teach us key phrases for us to use at school and to come in and read short stories or sing songs in the languages they speak.
Observation and Assessment
In Foxes and Squirrels, the team uses a range of strategies to gather information about the children’s learning and development. We use observation as our main form of assessment, and ‘wow’ moments are recorded on our online Learning Journey platform ‘Tapestry’ or placed onto the children’s special space in the class. Tapestry is a secure online platform which builds on children’s experiences during their time with us. It enables parents to view work from school and which areas of the curriculum the children are involved in. Parents and grandparents can share pictures/videos/memos with the school to inform our planning and assessments of children. Tapestry information is stored on a highly secure server which is monitored closely and can be accessed on a range of devices. As with all our assessment tools, keeping children safe online is of huge importance to us at Writtle Infant School therefore we ask parents to sign an agreement and other information to show that they understand and agree to the guidelines whilst using Tapestry.
The children’s learning is monitored and evidenced through a range of resources; photographs, notes, videos as well as our ‘Focus Child’ sheets and Phonics Tracker. Some learning may be recorded in books when children are ready or on display in the classrooms, as each child has a special space where they can display their work. Teachers constantly use their professional judgement to decide what a child is achieving and what they need to do next. The staff observe and interact with the children while they play and learn. We model, guide and support the children, assessing their progress using professional judgements, group discussion and the non-statutory frameworks of ‘Development Matters’ and ‘Birth2Five Matters’, both published in 2021. Observations are completed individually or in groups and by all team members.
During the first few weeks of the Autumn Term the class teacher completes the statutory Reception Baseline Assessment to assess literacy and maths. In addition we assess all areas of learning to develop a comprehensive, personal and holistic outline of each child. This allows for learning opportunities to be pitched appropriately and adds to our increasing depth of knowledge of the children. We record half termly any concerns we have with children’s progress in any area of learning and we discuss these at pupil progress meetings with the school Head, Helen Castell. In the Summer term, class teachers review the Early Learning Goals – known as the ELGs . An EYFS profile is made to decide whether each child is working below or at expected levels. Judgements against the ELGs are based on observations, evidence in books and discussions with all staff involved with the child. Class teachers make sure that their judgements are correct by taking part in moderation with other local schools. The results of the profile are shared with parents and carers via an end of year report. After this, there is an opportunity to meet with the class teacher to discuss it. The EYFS profile results are reported to the local authority, who monitor and moderate the judgements made.
The impact of the EYFS curriculum is reflected in our children, they are well rounded, inquisitive, happy and confident. With the successful implementation of both our enriched and balanced curriculum and our well thought out, safe, and challenging learning environment, both indoors and outdoors, our children develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that enable them to become successful learners. Our children are encouraged to be actively engaged in learning and their enjoyment of this learning is apparent to all. All our children experience a curriculum that provides exciting and enriching learning opportunities. They develop their ‘Characteristics of Learning’ and are able to apply their knowledge to a range of situations making links and explaining their ideas and understanding. They are confident to take risks and discuss their successes and failures with adults drawing on their experiences to improve or adjust what they are doing. The children at Writtle Infant School are skilful at solving problems and they have effectively developed their personal levels of resilience and independent learning skills. We help children to make sense of the world around them, to develop tolerance, compassion and an understanding of their rights and the rights of others in an ever evolving world. At the end of Reception the children in Foxes and Squirrels classes have developed essential knowledge and skills required for everyday life and lifelong learning. They transition into Year 1 with key knowledge and overarching concepts to enable them to access the requirements of the National Curriculum. The impact of our curriculum is shown in the percentage of children achieving a Good Level of Development at the end of the year. Our children reach our endpoints identified through our carefully planned curriculum offer for all seven areas of learning. The teaching and pedagogy are reviewed and evaluated regularly through meetings with all staff and are monitored by the EYFS Lead.