St Leonard’s Catholic Primary School
EYFS 2021 -2022
Learn, Grow and Shine.
‘Every child deserves the best possible start in life.’
In the Early Years at St Leonard’s Catholic Primary School, our aim is to develop happy, confident learners who are ready for the next steps in their education, ensuring each individual reaches their full potential from their starting point. This is done within an environment in which:
We plan a curriculum based on a sound knowledge of child development and the statutory documents as set by the Department for Education, using both adult led discrete teaching by highly trained and experienced staff, and experiences inspired by the children and the cultural capital they bring to our school. This is framed using the development points as outlined in the new Development Matters documentation, and we work towards the statutory Early Learning Goals, keeping in mind the four overarching themes of the Early Years Foundation Stage:
The Early Years Curriculum
The new Early Years Foundation Stage 2021 (EYFS) is the statutory framework for children's early education aged 0 to 5 years providing standards for all children's learning (including those with additional needs), development and care in Early Years settings.
All Early Years providers must follow the safeguarding and welfare requirements of the EYFS and the learning and development requirements.
The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage
Development Matters: Non Statutory Curriculum Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage
Our curriculum has been designed to recognise children’s prior learning, and our provision is sequenced to build on the experiences and end points the children have had in the years before they come to us.
This enables the children to succeed through cooperative and collaborative learning principles.
There is a strong emphasis on the Prime Areas of learning;
Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Communication and Language. We ensure there is a strong focus on communication and language and Mental Health and Wellbeing, in order to support the children in their transition back to education after the pandemic, and to prepare the children to move on to the Specific Areas of learning: Literacy. Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Art and Design, as outlined in the statutory framework for the EYFS.
At St Leonard’s Catholic Primary School, we recognise that how we communicate not only improves academic outcomes, but is a life skill to ensure success beyond school, in life and future employment, developing children’s thinking and understanding, which in turn promotes self-confidence, resilience and empathy which support the child’s well-being.
Our enabling environments and warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration, right from the start. We believe that high level engagement ensures high level attainment.
We therefore provide an engaging curriculum, linked to books, that maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking.
As well as promoting discrete adult led teaching experiences, we follow children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school.
By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their starting points, and are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1.
Each half term, EYFS staff introduce a new theme to provide inspiration for learning, this theme is linked to a high quality text, 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 that children have directed teaching throughout the day, and the timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children, and seasonal changes, for example, allowing more time spent outdoors, and transition from Nursery, and into Year One.
These sessions are followed by small focused group work. This means the teaching staff can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.
Children are provided with time to engage in exploration throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision.
The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and our aim is to encourage a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.
In Reception we plan our half termly themes based on high quality texts, which we plan and teach our adult led sessions from. We take part in Guided Reading, the children take a decodable reading book home and have it changed twice a week, and they also have access to the school library, as well as regular group story time, twice a day.
The aim is to expose children to a range of core books and authors that not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their communication and language skills, vocabulary and comprehension. Books will be embedded in our provision through activities, story sessions, and on display for children to access independently.
Through this, children begin to internalise new vocabulary, language patterns and begin to retell stories. There is cohesion and consistency with the whole school Talk for Writing approach that is followed right up to Year 6.
We supplement this with dedicated phonics sessions, learning to decode, blend and segment words for reading and spelling, as well reading and remembering high-frequency words
We follow the Sounds Write daily phonics programme, which is validated by the Department for Education. Staff across the school have carried out extensive training in this programme to ensure consistency across the Key Stages.
When starting Reception, our children have a variety of starting points as they have come from different providers. This means that initially we concentrate on assessing and developing their phonological awareness, developing their speaking and listening skills, and laying the foundations to learn with Sounds Write, which starts after the baseline assessment period in Autumn Term.
The emphasis during this time is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and become ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills, prior to grapheme phoneme correspondence, and segmenting and blending to decode words for reading and spelling.
Information on our Sounds Write programme:
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.
In Reception, we teach a robust mathematics curriculum, based on Mastery learning principles, and we follow the White Rose Maths Scheme of work which is divided into systematic teaching units, following a clear progression of learning.
The scheme is adapted in order to be bespoke to our children, using concrete, pictorial and abstract strategies when learning each new concept. Children in Reception also have daily, ‘Maths Meetings’ to develop fluency, revisit key concepts and address misconceptions.
High quality learning environments and meaningful interactions with adults further support our children in developing mathematical thinking and discussion, and children also learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives and pictorial structures and representations which are then rehearsed, applied and recorded within their own child-led exploration. They also engage in exciting problem solving and reasoning activities every day.
The Wider Curriculum
Our wider curriculum is taught through the specific areas of learning of the Early Years Foundation Stage; ‘Understanding the World’ and ‘Expressive Arts and Design.’
Our highly trained Early Years staff have an excellent awareness of how the end of year Early Learning Goals feed into the National Curriculum, through our robust planning and professional development opportunities, and excellent communication between the Key Stages, supporting transition.
In reverse, colleagues throughout the school are also aware of the key Early Years areas of learning that link to each foundation subject in the National Curriculum, and its progression.
Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity, and the children become scientists, artists and engineers, as they explore a range of materials and test out their own ideas.
Building further on our Communication and Language focus, children will be encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology in foundation subjects through small group teaching time, and this vocabulary is modelled by supporting practitioners.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together to access our full curriculum offer, but to enhance our offer we have a range of additional interventions and support for children who need support to reach their full potential, as well as children who 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.
Religious Education is one of our core subjects. We follow the Diocesan programme "Come and See" which helps children relate the Catholic faith to their own experiences of the world.
Children and staff plan and lead daily acts of Collective Worship. These take place every morning and form an important part of our school community.
We have strong links to our parish church St Leonard’s, which is adjacent to our school site. We have an excellent relationship with Father Humble, and Deacon Norman often comes into school during Liturgies. We also attend Mass at the church and enjoy being part of the paris.
Starting your journey with us.
Starting school is an exciting time, and it is also a time of change and transition. We greatly value the contribution and knowledge which parents and carers bring, as we welcome your children into our school.
Prior to children starting with us, staff spend time speaking to parents, previous settings, and read previous learning journeys, to gain an understanding of the whole child. We also have parent admission meetings in the Summer term prior to your child starting school, and ‘Stay and Play’ sessions, so that you have all of the information you need to support transition into Reception. We also have regular parent meetings throughout the year, including Phonics and Early Reading, Mathematics, and links through learning.
During the first half term in Reception, all staff use ongoing assessments, observations and conversations with the child to develop a baseline assessment. This identifies each individual’s starting points in all areas of learning, so we can plan experiences to ensure progress.
The children in Reception now also complete a Baseline Assessment, set by the Department for Education.
We aim to complete this within the first two weeks of your child starting with us in Reception, and it is completed sensitively, with the Class Teacher.
This RBA (Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment) focuses on ‘Language, Communication and Literacy,’ and ‘Mathematics.’ The purpose of this is to show the progress children make from Reception until the end of KS2.
ECAT (Every Child is a Talker) ECAT is an evidence-based oral language assessment tool. The assessment is carried out at the start of the year through observations of play, and informs us if your child is at the expected level for their age or requires intervention, and supports staff with planning next steps.
Assessment in the Early Years
Ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children and excessive paper work. Staff draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements through discussions with other practitioners, photographs and physical examples such as a child’s drawing and making. Some observations are uploaded using Tapestry and shared with the supporting parents and carers at key points in the year.
Phonics assessments are carried out using Sounds Write every half term. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’, and we can further tailor our teaching and learning opportunities using the information gathered.
Summative assessments are completed three times per year and shared with parents, whereby the Class Teacher updates the progress children have made.
In the Summer Term, the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is completed for each individual child in the Summer term, for each Early Learning Goal. The teacher will judge whether each child has met the Goal, and they will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected.’ Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an Early Learning Goal, teachers have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher.
The Impact of our Approach
The Early Years approach at St Leonard’s has been praised by Ofsted and during Local Authority Reviews.
Our last recorded Good Level of Development across the areas of learning exceeded the national standard, and our transitions to Year One are smooth and successful, with the number of children passing the Year One phonics screening check exceeding the national standard in the most recently recorded results.
Our Early Years staff have an excellent understanding of how the Early Learning Goals link to the National Curriculum, and through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects – both core and foundation - children leave Reception happy and confident, with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey as lifelong learners: writers, mathematicians, scientists, historians, engineers, artists and geographers.