Early Years Foundation Stage (Reception)
At Ashley C of E Primary, we believe that all children deserve an education rich in wonder and memorable experiences; that allows children's natural creativity and curiosity to flourish, alongside the purposeful acquisition of skills and knowledge. We believe that an education that does all of this gives children the best chance to become well-rounded, happy individuals, ready to succeed in our ever-changing world. We provide a high-quality Early Years education, laying secure foundations for the future and beyond. We have high expectations with a big emphasis on developing independence, resilience, and positive, accepting attitudes.
The Characteristics of Effective Learning (COEL) underpin all that we do. To help the children understand these, we use learning dinosaurs (mascots) to help children to understand the importance of what makes a good learner and to think about what their learning looks like. These are;
- The Tryasaurus - tries their best and does not give up; concentrates hard on activities and keeps on trying even when something is really difficult and avoids distractions.
- The Explorasaurus - likes to find out about things and uses all senses to do so; good at pretending/exploring with things and people and asks questions to find things out and has a ‘can do’ attitude towards their learning.
- The Thinkasaurus – has their own ideas; finds ways to solve problems; makes predictions and checks if they were right and thinks carefully about what they have learnt or found out.
Through these characteristics, children become lifelong learners and they are used as a vehicle for learning in both the Prime and Specific Areas of the EYFS framework. They are pivotal in developing key skills and independence so that children become intrinsically motivated; developing their own thoughts, ideas and curiosity as they navigate their way through our world.
Through our Learning Enquiries, we provide exciting experiences that give children the opportunity to experience things first hand; applying new skills to real-life. We encourage children to develop as individuals as they acquire new skills through the seven areas of learning; taking managed and safe risks as they become more confident and self-aware. The Learning Enquiries excite and engage children, building on their own interests and developing their experiences of the world around them. We recognise that all children come into our setting with varied experiences and all staff ensure that the learning opportunities provided widen their knowledge and understanding of the world, setting ambitious expectations for all children.
We aim to provide children with a well-structured, safe and active learning environment both indoors and outdoors. This will enable them to develop the skills, attitudes and understanding that will form the basis of lifelong learning and encourage them to become useful, active members of a diverse and constantly changing society.
At Ashley, we offer a curriculum which is broad and balanced and which builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills of all children, whatever their starting points. We follow the Early Years Framework (Development Matters) and use Learning Enquiries as enrichment opportunities. The aim of our curriculum is to develop a thirst and love for learning by:
- Carefully planning sequences of activities that provide meaningful learning experiences, developing each child’s characteristics of effective teaching and learning.
- Providing high quality interactions with adults that demonstrate and impact on the progress of all children.
- Using high quality questioning and interactions to check children’s understanding, address misconceptions and upcycle play.
- Staff acting as role models to the children they teach in order for children to develop their own speaking and listening skills.
- Completing careful assessment through observations which are recorded on ‘Seesaw’ and shared with parents. These are used to inform the next steps of learning and meeting individual needs.
- Developing an effective and engaging environment that is set up so that children can access all areas of learning both inside and outside at any time.
- Providing activity starting points for child-initiated activities that enhance activities linked to the children’s core learning.
- Allowing children to be successful in their attempts at an activity and using effective feedback to help facilitate next steps in learning.
- Suggesting home learning opportunities, encouraging parents to build on their child’s school experiences at home.
- Safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare at all times.
At Ashley, pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. Skills and knowledge of phonics, mathematics and English are taught directly as well as regular circle time sessions to focus on the children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) and other Prime Areas (physical development and communication and language). The provision is used to enable the children to apply the skills independently taught in these sessions. The areas of learning within the provision, both inside and out, are planned to meet the interests and needs of the children. Some of the provision is continuous, which allows children to freely explore and build on prior learning, and some of the provision is ‘enhanced’. Enhancements help children to embed the new skills and knowledge taught in adult-led input or address their next steps. We recognise the changing needs and interests of our pupils and we are responsive to this, regularly developing existing Learning Enquiries and adapting the learning environment.
Phonics is taught daily through Letters and Sounds which is supported by Jolly Phonics in whole class sessions. Activities associated with these phonics sounds are introduced to children and built upon across the week within the provision. Children develop their literacy skills by the imitation of stories and story mapping techniques. This is promoted throughout the provision with small worlds, book corners, roleplays, a writing den and transferable writing equipment, like tool belts. We use a variety of core texts to support Learning Enquiries and these are used as an exciting hook to engage and inspire children. We have developed our own suggested text list for early years which we share with parents. These texts are chosen with a view to promoting reading for pleasure and to give the children a rich exposure to language. All of this is crucial in developing early writing and reading skills.
The maths curriculum is taught through daily dedicated sessions, following the White Rose Maths scheme and using ‘Numberblocks’ as additional mathematics teaching material. We provide opportunities for children to master key skills of number, calculation and shape so that pupils develop deep understanding and the acquisition of mathematical language. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives which are then rehearsed and applied to their own learning during exploration. These early mathematical experiences are carefully designed to help pupils remember the content they have been taught and to support them with integrating their new knowledge across the breadth of their experiences and into larger concepts.
Weekly Forest school sessions are run for children in Reception, and this supports a range of skills and develops social interactions. All seven areas of learning are encompassed within these sessions and allow all children to take safe risks in an unpredictable environment whilst developing leadership skills and promoting mental health and wellbeing. We have a dedicated space to run these sessions and our Reception setting has a trained ‘Forest Schools’ teacher that plans for these.
Pupils have opportunities to share their learning with their parents and carers through ‘Seesaw’. Parents are invited to contribute to this online learning journey and have the opportunity to join us in our setting to participate or view our Great Works which take a variety of forms; performances, presentations and share and learn afternoons. We have Instagram and Facebook pages where children’s learning and successes are celebrated across the school.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we also have a range of additional interventions and support strategies to enhance and scaffold the learning for those children who may not be reaching their full potential; or for challenging those that exceed the learning expectations. Careful observations and references to the COEL helps us to identify where this support or challenge is needed.
Our curriculum celebrates diversity and supports the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all our pupils. Children who have special educations needs and/ or are disabled or neuro-diverse (SEND), who have diverse access requirements and learning styles are supported appropriately to achieve their goals and targets, to help them reach their full potential.
With the successful implementation of both an enriched and balanced curriculum and a well-structured, safe and engaging learning environment, children will be able to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that enables them to become learners for life. The Good Level of Development (GLD) at Ashley C of E Primary School continues to be well above that of the National Average year after year.
You will see our children actively engaged in their learning and using the environment independently. The children will ask questions and self-select resources, taking ownership of their learning. They demonstrate high levels of engagement, completing activities and developing their speaking and listening skills, which enables them to access more areas of the learning and communicate to both adults and children. Children develop skills across all areas of the curriculum including literacy, mathematics, and physical development, using these in different ways.
Children will have developed a wider sense of the world around them and can draw on their experiences during interactions with others and link this to new learning. Children develop their characteristics of effective teaching and learning and are able to apply their knowledge to a range of situations making links and explaining their ideas and understanding. Children are confident to take risks and discuss their successes and failures with adults drawing on their experiences to enhance or deepen what they are doing.
Evidence of children’s learning including observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents are kept in ‘Learning Journey’ folders or on our online learning platform, ‘Seesaw’; children use these to reflect on their progress both in school and with those at home, giving them a pupil voice.
From their own starting points, children will make excellent progress academically and socially, developing a sense of themselves so that they are well prepared for Key Stage 1 as happy, confident, resilient and proud individuals.