Early Years Foundation stage
Intent - Why do we teach what we teach?
At Kerr Mackie Primary school Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) we aim for our children to feel happy and safe. We provide a caring, nurturing environment where all children are valued, building positive relationships where children develop the confidence to learn with each other. We are passionate advocates for ensuring all of our children are able to share how they feel and work with them to support any worries or concerns they may have as we fully believe happy children learn.
We are proud of, and celebrate, the wide variety of cultures that make up our school community. Many of our pupils arrive with a knowledge of their own culture, but have a limited knowledge of the world around them. We therefore use our knowledge of our school community and pupil’s backgrounds to build a personalised curriculum, which aims to educate our pupils about other cultures through an exploration of staple foods from around the world.
We value every individual as a unique child and recognise that many of our children have different starting points to their learning, and bring a range of different knowledge and experiences. We plan for each child’s stage of development, to enable them to progress and develop to achieve their full, unique potential. Around 50% of our pupils start in our setting with a limited understanding of the English language. Therefore, we prioritise the teaching of vocabulary using our adults as role models for speaking English, and through providing warm, skilful adult interactions, a language rich environment and a curriculum built upon texts.
“Here’s how many words kids would have heard by the time they were 5 years old: Never read to, 4,662 words; 1–2 times per week, 63,570 words; 3–5 times per week, 169,520 words; daily, 296,660 words; and five books a day, 1,483,300 words” (- Science Daily (2019). https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190404074947.htm )
At Kerr Mackie we aim for all our children to become confident and successful readers, with a real love for literature. This starts in EYFS, where the children are immersed in stories and texts, throughout the whole curriculum; fostering a real LOVE of reading, whilst also introducing them to new and challenging vocabulary. This, along with a systematic, synthetic approach to teaching phonics (Floppy’ phonics) gives children the skills and confidence to develop into life-long lovers of reading.
Our curriculum aims to provide our children with a range of rich and challenging learning experiences, and to develop their naturally curious nature, through opportunities to explore their surroundings, ask questions, take risks and learn through first hand experiences. We believe that children learn best when they are engaged, motivated and excited, and believe this happens best when children lead their own learning and are learning through their play.
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” – O. Fred Donaldson.
In our Nursery and Reception classes, our long-term plan follows the EYFS statutory framework, which has seven main areas of learning.
The Prime Areas: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development
The Specific Areas: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design
Implementation - How do we teach what we teach?
We implement these areas of learning by providing a safe, stimulating environment that allows children to discover, be challenged, consolidate and achieve their very best whilst developing their resilience and independence.
Throughout all of these areas of learning and at the heart of the EYFS curriculum are the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’. We strive to develop these key characteristics of ‘Playing and Learning’, ‘Active Learning’ and ‘Thinking Critically’ in order to give the children the skills that they will continue to draw upon throughout their development.
Pupils learn through a combination of adult-led, teacher taught whole class, group and individual support. Our timetable is structured so children have regular directed teaching in Literacy, Maths, Topic and Phonics as well as circle time sessions to focus on PSED. Children are also provided with plenty of time to engage in exploration of our learning environments, both indoor and outdoor, which are carefully thought out and planned for to ensure they provide appropriate challenge for all pupils.
We know how important it is to work in partnership with our families to ensure children feel settled, safe and happy in our care. We have invested in skilled multi-lingual staff to ensure we are able to engage with all of our families. We get to know our families and children well and use their interests and knowledge to support and inspire our children’s knowledge and understanding about themselves, our local community and beyond. We provide parent workshops in phonics, reading and Maths to help support our parents to support their children and provide the very best education for them.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Children follow the rigorous and highly successful Floppy’s Phonics programme faithfully so that they meet good outcomes for reading. Our long-term plan actively promotes a love of reading and seeks to immerse the children in stories and books in all aspects of their learning. We use termly themes as a hook to inspire and engage the children, and then follow, develop and extend their interests and enquiries as they arise. As part of each topic, we cover a number of set texts, covering a variety of genres, as a basis for learning. However, will also share other texts, where appropriate, as points of interest.
We follow the Maths Mastery approach in both Nursery and Reception. In Reception there is an emphasis on studying 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. Nursery pupils begin to develop these key skills during regular maths sessions where they explore sorting, pattern, quantities, shape, and counting awareness. 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.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be reaching their potential or moving on children who are doing very well. This includes, for example; confidence in the curriculum, bug club language intervention and additional same day ‘catch up’ provision in both maths and phonics.
Within our EYFS curriculum, children are assessed through accurate observations informing future planning and children’s individual next steps in their learning. This enables us to ensure learning is embedded and consistent, that all children’s individual learning needs are met, and that they continue to make the best possible progress within our EYFS setting.
Our regular monitoring of teaching and learning includes coaching and feedback from the phase leader and subject leaders, so that teachers developed good subject knowledge and are effectively supported. We tailor our staff CPD to be early years specific and are focused on moderating outcomes across the phase so that every member of our team feels confident in making accurate judgements about where individual pupils are in their steps for learning.
The impact of our provision can be seen through the outcomes of our children and the delight they take with coming to school every day excited to learn. It is a privilege to be part of such an important stage in our children’s development and our dedicated staff work tirelessly to deliver the best possible outcomes for our children.