Early Years Intent
The EYFS team at Brackenbury have high expectations for every child in our setting. All pupils in our Nursery and Reception classes are valued. We embrace the wide range of starting points and experiences with which our learners arrive. We recognise a significant number of children have had limited opportunities for social interaction and language development during the last two academic years and for this reason we prioritise language development (including vocabulary) and Personal Social and Emotional Development.
Our curriculum is mapped through over-arching topics with the scope for practitioners to skilfully follow children’s interests. Key events and themes are woven into a broad and balanced experience for every child. Our team are responsive to the needs of our children, we carefully adapt and refine our provision using a research and evidence based approach. The offer in the Early Years ensures pupils engage in language and vocabulary rich experiences enabling them to learn new concepts and skills.
We actively develop cultural capital and a shared understanding of different cultures through our flexible and blended curriculum with learning opportunities that build on and develop our pupils’ backgrounds and prior experiences. One of our key aims is to ensure our pupils are reflective learners. We actively encourage curiosity and questions. Connections ‘within learning’ to consolidate and deepen understanding are purposely planned.
Implementation and Impact
The EYFS framework supports our approach to teaching and provides opportunities for more meaningful interactions with our pupils. This supports a deeper knowledge of individual pupil’s development across the EYFS. We encourage and develop pupil’s confidence by helping them to develop a strong, positive sense of self. We build strong relationships with our pupils and give them ownership of their environment through pupil voice, which enables them to feel secure in their surroundings. The strong partnerships with parents and carers begin with home visits and open days. Through parent meetings, workshops, half-termly curriculum information letters and weekly home-learning all stakeholders are aware of our offer, how the EYFS works and how parents and carers can best support their children.
Our timetable is a blend of focused direct teaching and continuous provision where children have the opportunity to learn independently through exploration and challenge. Play forms a big part of our provision with a mix of child initiated and guided opportunities.
Each half term, EYFS staff introduce a new theme to provide inspiration for learning, whilst providing the flexibility for children to follow their own interests and ideas. Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so children have directed teaching during the day. The timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children. Small group work is also a key element of our provision. This work further enables the EYFS team to systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback, which can have a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning. Our pupils work on developing identified key attributes alongside working towards and building upon the Early Learning Goals. The characteristics of effective learning are crucial drivers to our provision. We develop our pupils’ abilities to; play and explore, be active, create and think critically.
EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s feed into the National Curriculum through our planning and CPD opportunities. In reverse, colleagues throughout the school are also aware of the key ELG’s that link to each foundation subject and the progression of the subject.
Understanding the World is now more aligned to the progression of learning in Science, Computing, History, RE and Geography in KS1 but children are still encouraged to develop ‘big’ ideas. Writing is developed through mark making, which has a positive impact on developing fine motor skills. Pupils attend weekly Tummy Time in Reception and Write Dance in Nursery. We model and encourage writing for a purpose e.g. a shopping list, letter writing, messages to parents etc. Mathematics is taught, utilising the White Rose progression, through a concrete, pictorial and abstract approach, which allows all pupils to access the maths curriculum, feel sufficiently challenged, and develop a love of maths. Language skills and vocabulary are developed through effective interactions and further embedded through opportunities such as Wiggle Waggle and helicopter stories.
Reading is one of key priorities and children are encouraged to develop a ‘love of reading’ through stories, drama, role-play and taking books from the school’s fantastic library. Our primary approach for teaching our pupils to read and write through is through phonics. Pupils are taught phonics through phonemes (sounds) associated with graphemes (letters) during our daily phonics sessions. Pupils are also encouraged to use their phonic knowledge during their writing activities. We follow the Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) programme to ensure consistency across the school. In Nursery children focus on Phase 1, which concentrates on developing children’s speaking and listening skills, laying the foundations for the systematic synthetic teaching which starts in Phase 2. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills, prior to the systematic teaching of Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondence (GPC) in Reception. Children are encouraged to read at home and are listened to regularly in school. They are given books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers.
Beyond the school environment, we ensure children have opportunities to go out of school on both local area visits and also on more expansive visits to some of London’s significant places of interest e.g. the London Aquarium and London Zoo. Whole school events such as STEM week are celebrated in the EYFS and help to ensure there are connections between the EYFS and KS1 & KS2.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we have a range of additional intervention and support for children who may not be reaching their potential or are showing a greater depth of understanding and need further challenge. This includes, for example, sessions for developing speech and language, social skills, fine motor skills, phonics, and mathematics. Targeted pupils also attend daily NELI (Nuffield Early Language Intervention) sessions. In addition, we have a higher-than-average number of children on EHCPs, where bespoke plans have identified that learning may, sometimes, need to take place away from the classroom due to sensory needs.
Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by leaders supports practitioners to ensure that the quality of provision remains high.
From their own starting points, children make strong progress academically and socially, developing a sense of themselves so that they are well prepared for the transition into Key Stage 1. Children will typically demonstrate high levels of engagement in activities, developing their speaking and listening skills, enabling them to access more areas of the learning and communicate to both adults and children. Children develop knowledge and skills across all areas of the curriculum. Children develop a wider sense of the world around them and can draw on these experiences during interactions with others and link this to new learning. Children demonstrate the characteristics of effective learning. They are more confident to take risks and discuss their successes and failures with adults drawing on their experiences to improve or adjust what they are doing. They are successful learners and prepared for the next stage of their education as they transition from Foundation Stage to Year One. Children are able to show a developing level of tolerance, compassion and an understanding of their rights and the rights of others in an ever-evolving world. Children at the end of Foundation stage will have developed essential knowledge and skills required for everyday life and lifelong learning.