Principles of Learning
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a stage of children’s development from birth to the end of their first (Reception) year in school. It is based on four important principles that underpin everything that practitioners are required to do.
A Unique Child: Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
At Westerings Primary Academy we recognise that all children develop in individual ways, at varying rates. Every child is recognised as an individual with their own needs and strengths. We develop children’s positive attitudes and dispositions towards learning with praise and encouragement, as well as planned activities to develop their self- esteem and confidence. We value the diversity of individuals within the school and do not discriminate against children because of ‘differences’. The needs of all our children are met through planned opportunities to build on and extend their knowledge, experiences and interests. The children are educated on boundaries, rules and limits to help them understand the importance of keeping themselves safe whilst challenging themselves.
Positive Relationships: Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person.
Our children recognise that they are valued individuals who also belong to the close-knit team within the whole school. At Westerings Primary Academy we teach our children how to develop caring and respectful relationships and demonstrate this by our positive and productive relationships with their families and effective partnerships amongst groups of children and adults within the academy. At our school the EYFS teachers are the ‘Key Person’ to all children in their class, supported by the Learning Support Assistants.
We understand that parents/carers are children’s first and most enduring educators and we value the contribution they make. Parents/Carers are invited to induction and information meetings in the Summer Term before their child starts school, as well as formal Parent/Carer Evenings in the Autumn and Summer Term to discuss their progress. Informal Open Door Sessions are held every two weeks to view children’s work and parents/carers have the opportunity to briefly see their class teacher each morning and afternoon as they drop off/collect their child. We also offer Stay and Play sessions for the children and Home Visits during the first two weeks of September. A range of activities take place during the year to encourage collaboration between children, parents/carers and the academy, including sports days, family picnics, class assemblies, etc.
Enabling Environments: The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.
At Westerings Primary Academy we recognise that the learning environment plays a key role in supporting and extending the children’s development. This includes using the wonderful woodland site at our school where our children can work and play outdoors on a large scale surrounding by wildlife.
The Early Years Foundation Stage inside and outside areas are organised to allow children to explore and learn securely and safely. There are places where the children can be active, be quiet and rest. Children are encouraged to find and locate equipment and resources independently. Labels include pictures to help pre-readers and everything they are allowed to use is within their reach. Children’s learning and development is assessed by observation so new experiences and activities can be planned to challenge them.
Within the EYFS area provision is made to cater for the children’s emotional wellbeing. Weekly circle time sessions are held where children are encouraged to talk about their emotions and the children are free to express their feelings as appropriate using the ‘feelings wall’. Circle time continues throughout Key Stage One and Key Stage Two.
Learning and Development: Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of Learning and Development are equally important and interconnected.
At Westerings Primary Academy we value all areas of learning and development equally and understand that they are inter-connected. Play is a very important part of the EYFS curriculum. Through play our children explore and develop learning experiences, which help them make sense of the world. They practise and build up ideas, learn how to control themselves and begin to understand the need for rules. They have the opportunity to think creatively alongside other children as well as on their own. We encourage them to communicate with others as they investigate and solve problems and to express fears or re-live anxious experiences in controlled and safe situations.
We provide children with opportunities to play whilst EYFS practitioners support and extend the play as required, ensuring that they actively learn by being motivated and interested. As the children’s confidence develops, we encourage them to make their own choices and decisions. This provides children with a sense of satisfaction as they take ownership of their learning
Areas of Learning
The EYFS Framework consists of three prime areas of learning and four specific areas of learning.
The prime areas are the building blocks for learning:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
The four specific areas are
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design.
The children will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through these seven areas of learning and development. The teacher will ensure that the activities are suited to each individual child’s unique needs.
At the end of the EYFS – in the Summer term of the Reception year – teachers complete an assessment which is known as the EYFS Profile. This assessment is carried out by the Reception teacher and is based on what they have observed over a period of time. It informs parents/carers and their next teacher on children’s interests and strengths and identifies areas where extra support may be required. A written report is sent to parents/carers in the Summer Term.
Characteristics of Learning
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active and through creative and critical thinking. These characteristics of learning take place both inside and outside.
* Playing and Exploring
Engagement - finding out and exploring, playing with what they know, being willing to ‘have a go’.
* Active Learning
Motivation - being involved and concentrating, persevering, enjoying achieving what they set out to do.
* Creating and thinking critically
Thinking - having their own ideas, making links, choosing ways to do things.
At Westerings Primary Academy, in their Reception year, the children set important foundations for learning that will influence the rest of their time at school and will teach them to be independent, motivated learners and caring, responsible members of the community.
Transition with Pre-Schools
Whilst the children are in pre-school, they will be visited by Westerings’ staff to prepare them for changing school. During the Summer Term, the academy holds several meetings where parents can meet Governors, uniform providers and Health Professionals as well as learn about basic skills teaching. The children have stay and play sessions where they can meet their new friends and teacher in their new classroom. They will be joined by the Year 6 Buddies who will act as elder brothers and sisters to help them settle in for the first half term. In September, class staff will visit the children in their homes to prepare them for joining their new class. When the children first arrive at Westerings Primary Academy the routines in the Reception class are flexible to allow for the children to settle and for staff to meet their individual needs.
Transition within the Academy
Everyone at Westerings works well as part of a community within school. Children of all ages know each other and the staff well as they see each other regularly in assemblies, play times, clubs and around school. Staff also know the children, including those not in their own classes. This helps to promote appropriately high expectations for academic achievement, feelings of belonging and community so the children feel safe, confident and happy.
The whole school is split into 4 Family Groups: Foxes, Squirrels, Badgers and Woodpeckers. This gives the opportunity for special occasions when children of mixed ages can work and play together, for example on a Science challenge afternoon or during a lunchtime when they can play board games. The children become familiar with children in other age groups and this helps maintain some stability when they move year groups.
When the Reception children move into Year 1, there is a cross over of classroom practice to help the transition between the two. When children move up into Year 3, they start using the Junior playground in the Summer Term, both for playtimes and in the morning. They are also paired up with a Year 3 Buddy.