At St Peter’s Catholic Primary School we believe it is important to provide an Early Years curriculum that aims to meet the individual needs of every child. Independence is fostered, as are positive attitudes to learning, and each child is encouraged to reach their potential regardless of their background, circumstance or need. We believe play and exploration is essential for active learning as it is a key way in which young children learn with enjoyment and challenge.
The Early Years' curriculum at St Peter’s provides a high quality teaching programme which promotes children's learning in line with the requirements from the EYFS. Children are competent learners from birth and develop and learn in a variety of ways. Our curriculum is designed to give children the knowledge, self-belief and cultural capital that they need to help them to succeed in life. Our practitioners look carefully at the children in their care, consider their needs, interests, and stages of development and use all of this information to plan a sequenced, challenging and enjoyable experience across all areas. Within our provision we ensure that children have appropriate experiences and are supported by positive relationships and enabling environments throughout the EYFS.
The seven areas of Learning and Development together make up the skills, knowledge and experiences appropriate for all children as they grow, learn and develop. Although these are presented as separate areas, it is important to remember that for children, everything links together.
The areas of learning and development are:
Within these seven areas of learning there are focus strands which provide clear objectives:
Areas of learning
Communication and Language
Listening and Attention
Understanding the World
Past & Present
People, Culture & Communities
The Natural World
Expressive Arts and Design
Creating with Materials
Being Imaginative & Expressive
The seven areas of learning and the early learning goals summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that all young children should have gained by the end of the academic year in which they turn 5, the reception year.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED): Children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Underpinning their personal development are the important attachments that shape their social world. Strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults enable children to learn how to understand their own feelings and those of others. Children should be supported to manage emotions, develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own abilities, to persist and wait for what they want and direct attention as necessary. Through adult modelling and guidance, they will learn how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and manage personal needs independently. Through supported interaction with other children, they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably. These attributes will provide a secure platform from which children can achieve at school and in later life.
Communication and Language: The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children's language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.
Physical Development: Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, co-ordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both objects and adults. By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye co-ordination, which is later linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practice of using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.
Literacy: It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
Mathematics: Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting - children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Understanding of the World: Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.
Expressive Arts and Design: The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.
Standard of Achievement
By the end of Reception, most children will:
Being outdoors has a positive impact on children's sense of wellbeing and helps all aspects of their development, particularly as it offers opportunities for doing things in different ways and on different scales than when indoors. It gives children first-hand contact with weather, seasons and the natural world and we pride ourselves on embracing the school's commitment to learning outside the classroom. Outdoor environments offer children the freedom to explore, use their senses, and be physically active and exuberant.
At St Peter’s, the outdoor play areas are securely fenced and provide safe spaces where children can develop their physical skills and learn to share with others in structured and informal play. We provide a free flow approach for the majority of the day, and children have the opportunity to use the school facilities and grounds, including the field. Our objective led planning encompasses the outside area and ensures that provision is well matched to the needs of the children. All children are provided with jumpsuits suitable for outdoor/messy play.
In line with EYFS recommendations, children in Reception are assessed on entry to school (within the first four weeks) and this data is recorded using the Trusts chosen assessment system, EExAT. This provides us with information about what each child can do and is used to inform planning and monitor progress. All interactions and formally recorded assessments within the baseline are undertaken using the Leuven Scales as a measure of Involvement and Wellbeing.
This year, the children will also undertake the national Reception Baseline Assessment.
In addition, regular observations are made by the class teacher and support staff to ensure that each individual child's needs are being met and provided for. We moderate within Reception and with other settings to ensure consistency throughout the Trust and county.
We use the EYFS Profile as a way of assessing each child's development and learning achievements at the end of the EYFS. This assessment is based on our practitioners' ongoing observations and assessments in all seven areas of Learning and Development. These observations are shared with parents 3 times per year via Parent Meetings. The Early Learning Goals set high expectations for the end of EYFS, but expectations that are achievable for most children. This helps to give children secure foundations on which future learning can be built. Each child's level of development must be recorded against the 17 Early Learning Goals, with a final judgment of Emerging, Expected or Exceeding. We work closely with Year 1 staff to monitor progress and ensure the appropriate provision for every child.
Role of Parents
Parents are encouraged to take an active role in their child's education. A home / nursery visit is conducted for all children that are new to our learning community so that staff can establish the child’s needs and interests, but also build positive relationships with parents. We are always grateful if parents are able to give up some of their time to help with activities during the school day and on trips. We understand that this is not an option for some parents due to work and family commitments, but support these families through regular workshops and parent’s consultations.
Prior to a child entering the Reception class at the normal times, the parents and children are invited to a series of transition sessions. This gives the child an opportunity to meet his or her teacher and see the classroom that is soon to become their own, as many times as possible. At the meetings, the structure of the school day is explained and parents are given information which they may find useful. Parents are provided with a series of useful workshops which include an introduction to phonics and reading, maths and general guidance on starting EYFS. During this time there is an informal question and answer time, where parents have the opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns with staff.
Children with SEND, an EHC plan or statement, are invited into school for a further visit either with their key worker or parents/carers in order to have additional quality time with the class teacher and support staff.
Initially, all Reception children attend school on a part time basis for a few days, visiting for a morning or afternoon session and then going home. This is an important part of their transition and following this, all children attend school on a full time basis.
Please refer to the Admissions Policy or contact the school for further information.
Safeguarding (See also Health & Safety Policy and Guidance Notes)
The EYFS staff will assess the Reception classroom, outdoor area and equipment each day and record any changes on the EYFS risk assessment. Security and safety are of paramount importance and school staff are aware of their responsibilities. School staff teach pupils to take responsibility for their own safety and well being as appropriate to safe play, use of equipment and hygiene. In addition to this, the EYFS team will adhere to the Child Protection Policy and ensure that each child is protected and cared for, with their interests at heart. Any child protection issues will be recorded and collected and, if necessary, passed onto the CP Officer, Mrs Wakefield. The children will also be looked after at the end of the school day. If parents are late, then a message from the office will come down to have the children stay in the school foyer or classroom with the EYFS staff until parents arrive.
Review Date: March 2022