The Foundation Stage
Nursery, Pre-School and Reception provide the foundation for future learning. Children develop skills such as listening and speaking, concentration, resilience and co-operation. They develop gross and fine motor skills enabling them to record their learning in subsequent years. Development of personal and social skills are given a high profile throughout these years.
Aims of the Foundation Stage:
- To give each child a happy, positive and fun start to their school life in which they can establish solid foundations on which to expand and foster a deep love of learning;
- To offer each child a wide range of new and exciting experiences and give them the opportunity to consolidate, explore and test them out along with their own, individual experiences;
- To enable each child, through encouragement and high expectations, to develop socially, physically, intellectually and emotionally;
- To encourage children to develop independence within a loving, secure and friendly atmosphere;
- To support children in building relationships through the development of social skills such as cooperation and sharing.
We follow the curriculum as outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) document. There are three ‘prime’ areas of learning and four ‘specific’ areas of learning in the foundation stage curriculum.
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
- Communication and language
- Understanding the World
- Expressive arts and design
Characteristics of Effective Learning:
The EYFS also includes the Characteristics of Effective Learning. These highlight the importance of a child’s attitude to learning and their ability to play, explore and think critically about their world.
The three characteristics are:
- Playing and Exploring,
- Active Learning,
- Creating and Thinking Critically.
Learning through play is an important part of our Early Years classrooms. We believe that children learn best from activities and experiences that interest and inspire them. Using children’s interests as a starting point, we provide children with stimulating, active play experiences in which they can explore and develop their learning to help them make sense of the world. They have opportunities through their play to think creatively and critically alongside other children as well as on their own. They are able to practise skills, build upon and revisit prior learning and experience at their own level and pace. Play gives our children the opportunity to pursue their own interests and inspire those around them. The children learn to adapt, negotiate, communicate, discuss, investigate and ask questions. We believe it is important that adults take an active role in child initiated play through observing, modelling, facilitating and extending their play. Getting the balance right between child initiated play and adult led activities is very important to us.
We include direct, carefully planned, adult led experiences for children in the form of structured adult led teaching and adult led group activities. These are particularly important in helping children to learn specific skills and knowledge and it is often through children’s play that we see how much of this learning children have understood and taken on.
Assessment and Progress:
Assessment is an essential part of the learning and development of children in the EYFS. It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations.
In the first half term, we conduct a national baseline assessment for each child to establish their starting point and to inform future planning. We record their experiences and attainment, and assess their development and learning needs throughout the year.
At the end of Reception the class teacher assesses each child against the 17 Early Learning Goals (ELG) and comments on whether their development within each ELG is either ‘emerging’, ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’. We share this with parents and complete a summative assessment at the end of the year, which is shared with the county.