Three Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) underpin our practice. These are identified by the EYFS Guidance as:
- playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
- active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
- creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
The focus of the CoETL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Driving the CoETL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence, why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.
Teaching and Learning
EYFS staff have developed a long term plan to plan for key experiences over the academic year and 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 that children have some sessions of direct teaching during the day. The timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children. The direct teaching sessions are sometimes followed by small, focused group work. This allows adults to 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.
We know that Children learn best through play. When children are deeply engaged their brains are developing, new synapses are forming, and they are making progress.
‘Engaged’ means level five on the Laevers involvement scale. The child shows continuous and intense activity, revealing the greatest involvement. The signals for involvement are present, which are, concentration, creativity, energy, and persistence.
Each area of learning and development is implemented through planned, purposeful play, and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities. Staff respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction.
As children grow older, and as their development allows, the balance gradually shifts towards more adult-led activities.
At Clifton with Rawcliffe Primary School we are passionate about outdoor learning. Research shows that children use five times as many words outside as they do inside. We plan weekly forest school activities to teach children about the natural world. Our curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas.
English / Literacy
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and our aim is to encourage a love of reading right from the start. In EYFS we aim to expose children to a range of books that not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their oracy, vocabulary and comprehension. High quality picture books are 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. We promote a ‘five stories a day’ approach for our children.
Research shows that children who are read to at home are typically two years ahead in their reading ability by the end of the Early Years. To support this, we run a class library, whereby each child takes home two picture books a week to share with an adult.
We follow The Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme to ensure consistency across the school. In Nursery children focus on Phase 1 which concentrates on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work 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 learning the grapheme, phoneme correspondence (GPC.)
In Reception, Phase1 continues but children are introduced to Phase 2 and 3 where they will develop GPC and segmenting and blending skills to decode words. During the Summer term, children may move on to Phase 4 if they are ready.
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 follow the White Rose Maths Scheme of work and use the Maths Mastery Approach as defined by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. (NCTEM). We provide high quality learning environments and meaningful interactions with adults, to support children in developing mathematical thinking and discussion. Pupils 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. Children in Reception have daily ‘Maths Chat’ to develop fluency, revisit key concepts and address misconceptions.
In Nursery, children develop a love of maths through games, songs, rhymes, and play using concrete manipulatives. There is a focus on the following counting principles; one to one correspondence, stable order and cardinal principle. Children’s fine manipulative skills are a focus to develop 1-1 correspondence so children count each object only once.
Our wider curriculum is taught through the learning areas; ‘Understanding of the World’ and ‘Expressive Arts and Design.’ EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s feed into the National Curriculum through our robust 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.
Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities and first-hand experiences are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. Building further on our oracy focus, children will be encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology in foundation subjects, and such vocabulary will be modelled, both verbally and orally, by supporting practitioners.
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.
Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the EYFS leader ensure staff develop good pedagogical subject knowledge. The EYFS leader ensures staff receive CPD specific to Early Years to develop their practice. For example, we offer CPD on effective observations, in order to understand where pupils are, and their ‘next steps,’ for learning.
Partnership with Parents
We recognise that children learn and develop well when there is a strong partnership between staff and parents and/or carers.
Ofsted Inspection July 21:
“Children in the early years concentrate on their learning well. Staff ask questions and make suggestions so that children improve what they are doing..”
22/23 – GLD 80%
Writing – 85%
Reading Comprehension – 91%
Word Reading -87%
Number – 91%
Number Pattern -90%
21/22 GLD 88%
Writing – 91%
Reading Comprehension – 92%
Word Reading -90%
20/21 GLD 78%
Reading – 84%
Writing – 83%
Space Shape and Measure – 92%
Prior to children starting, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journey’s to gain an understanding of the whole child and where they are at. During the first half term in Nursery or 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 so we can plan experiences to ensure progress. The following baseline assessments are also carried out.
The RBA (Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment)
This 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.
In Early Years we use Wellcom, a screening tool to help identify areas of concern in language, communication, and interaction development in order to ensure early targeted intervention. As part of the toolkit adults use a ‘Big Book of Ideas’ to provide focussed teaching and intervention activities to meet the children’s individual needs.
All 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 paperwork. Practitioners 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 / making. Some observations are uploaded using Tapestry.
Phonic assessments are carried out using our Little Wandle Phonics Tracker every half-term to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ where possible.
In Summer Term 2, the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) is completed where teachers judge whether the child has met each of the 17 Early Learning Goals (ELG)’s. They will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected.’ Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher.
Impact is also evident through our successful transitions into Year 1. EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s link to the National Curriculum, and through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects – both core and foundation – children leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge, dispositions and attitudes to continue their journey as lifelong thinkers and learners.
Please see below the ‘What to Expect When’ document.
Please find below useful information.
I Can – Support for children’s speaking and listening
Little Wandle support for parents
What shapes us makes us – Why early childhood matters
Vodcast – top tips to improve the home learning environment
Parents and/or carers are kept up to date with their child’s progress and development through our ‘focus child’ programme. There are four focus children in Reception and two in nursery schools each week. When a child is a focus child, we will let the parent/ carer know that we are observing the child while they play to find out more about their interests and how they are progressing. We ask parents to upload some pictures to Tapestry of any recent family activities they have done out of school.
We value the knowledge and understanding parents and carers have of their child and we seek to work together to meet the child’s needs. The EYFS profile helps to provide parents and/or carers with a well-rounded summative picture of their child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities.
Each child is assigned a key person (In FS2 this is the class teacher) who helps to ensure that their learning and care is tailored to meet their needs. The key person supports parents and/or carers in guiding their child’s development at home. The key person also helps families to engage with more specialist support, if appropriate. Class Dojo is the main vehicle for online communication between home and school.