The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) provides the foundation for all future learning. We aim to give children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for excellent future progress through school and life. To ensure this, learning and development opportunities are planned around the needs and interests of each child and are assessed and reviewed regularly. Adults respond to each child’s needs and interests, guiding development through warm, positive interactions in stimulating, well-resourced indoor and outdoor environments.
At Ark John Keats Primary, we recognise that every child is a competent learner who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. We recognise that children develop in individual ways and at varying rates and our staff use observations and knowledge of early years pedagogy to skilfully to analyse and support children in their next steps of learning. It is the adult’s role to teach, support, stimulate and extend our students’ learning through initiating and extending experiences and interacting skilfully and sensitively with children to scaffold, support and enhance learning.
The EYFS Characteristics of Effective Learning are embedded throughout our curriculum and sensitive adult interactions develop deep sustained, shared thinking. Our students are encouraged to develop their independence, curiosity, and problem-solving skills. In our nurturing environment we use praise & celebration, to encourage our students to develop a positive attitude to learning.
At Ark John Keats, we believe that all children are entitled to a Good Level of Development (GLD) and we know excellent education in the Early Years is crucial to achieving our mission.
How we meet each child's needs
- understanding that each child is unique and so providing for the whole child, their health, both physical and mental, their feelings, thinking and spiritual development through excellent safeguarding and the prioritization of the prime areas of learning
- ensuring close communication and work with parents/careers to develop complete understanding of each child and to communicate progress and next steps with families clearly and effectively
- ensuring each child has the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding to achieve success and to build a thirst for lifelong learning
- focussing on the prime areas to build a secure foundation, which will set students up for success in the specific areas
- teaching the foundations of reading, writing and mathematics that will develop basic skills and enable access to the wider curriculum
- providing a stimulating environment, indoors and out, providing many opportunities for children to be curious, ask questions and to be eager to discover and learn
- providing opportunities and time for children to pursue their own interests and time to interact and share with others
- providing opportunities for each child to make choices and decisions to develop their independence
- providing multi-cultural experiences including resources and stories which reflect different cultures and values and through teaching that is conscious of and promotes fundamental British values
- creating a purposeful atmosphere, where teachers can focus on teaching and students on learning
Areas of learning and development
Our EYFS curriculum comprises seven main areas of learning and development. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These are called the prime areas.
Communication and Language: children develop skills and confidence in speaking and listening in a range of situations.
Physical Development: children develop their co-ordination, control, and movement through being active.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: within clear boundaries children form positive relationships, develop social skills and respect for others and understand appropriate behaviour.
The prime areas are strengthened and applied through four specific areas.
Literacy: through the daily phonics lesson children link sounds and letters and begin to read and write. In addition, there is a daily literacy lesson and planned opportunities for guided reading. Fine motor skills development and handwriting are also formally taught and practised.
Mathematics: through the daily maths lesson, this includes short chunks of whole class teaching and focused maths experiences, and maths meetings which include conversations about number, ‘everyday’ maths and oral rehearsal of number sequences and patterns.
Understanding the World: finding out about past and present, people, culture and communities, as well as the natural world.
Expressive Arts and Design: exploring a wide range of media and sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.
None of these areas can be delivered in isolation from the others. They are equally important and depend on each other. For the younger children on entry to our Nursery, more time may be allocated to addressing needs in the prime areas of the curriculum. All areas are delivered through a balance of adult led and child-initiated activities. In each area, there are Early Learning Goals (ELG's) that define the expectations for most children to reach by the end of the EYFS.
How do we assess our students in EYFS?
Some children join Ark John Keats Primary’s EYFS with limited experiences, so our planning is based around half termly themes to enrich children’s knowledge and skills.
At Ark John Keats Primary we use observation to assess our children based on EExAT’s developmental milestones, which are broken down into 6-month blocks, as well as the Characteristics of Effective Learning and the Leuven Scales for Wellbeing and Involvement. Our students are at the heart of everything we do, and wellbeing and involvement are crucial indicators for our students. Wellbeing and Involvement are going to enable our students to develop secure and embedded learning; it’s going to enable them to come into our environment and be receptive to the learning that we’re offering them at Ark John Keats.
Through observation we assess the children’s interests, stages of development and learning needs, before planning challenging, achievable activities, experiences and provision to extend the children’s learning. Staff are aware of children who join us with limited or lack of experience and plan accordingly. Observations of children are captured on iPads, analysed and uploaded onto EExAT. From these observations, next steps identified and acted upon through provision or 1:1 input.
Curriculum gaps for groups and individuals are identified to inform future planning. Pupil progress meetings identify individuals/groups who require extra target work to enable them to achieve at least the expected progress on their individual journey towards achieving a Good Level of Development.
Taking the curriculum outside
Children in the Early Years at Ark John Keats Academy also have lots of opportunities for learning in our outdoor environment. The outdoor learning opportunities we provide help children to:
- provide opportunities to improve physical fitness and gross motor skills
- participate in large play which is not possible indoors
- encourage more active children to practice literacy and maths skills in an engaging way
- take risks
- foster a love of nature and the environment
It is also important to take into consideration the social world we live in which can confine the opportunities that children have to play outside either from a safety point of view or lack of space. We aim to provide an outdoor curriculum, which compliments and is an extension of the indoor curriculum. It is ever changing as it reflects the children's interests and needs as they progress through the foundation stage.