Our Early Years class is a strength of the school and we are really proud of the progress that our youngest pupils make during their first years with us. Children in the early years follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, focusing on the three prime areas of Communication, Physical Development and Personal Social and Emotional Development. We prioritise ‘Cognition’ as the fourth area of learning and this is made up of the specific areas of the EYFS – Numeracy, Literacy, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.
The four principles of the EYFS are:
At Stanton Vale we celebrate the fact that all our pupils are different. They will enjoy their own particular strengths and contend with individual challenges which are exclusive to them. Our children are encouraged to find out things for themselves and explore their environments at a level appropriate to their needs. Our EYFS department balances a mixture of structured teaching sessions, with chances to learn through independent discovery and exploration. Pupils are supported to ‘have a go’ at a wide range of activities and to explore resources independently. They are encouraged to try out their own ideas, make choices and persevere with learning, even when things do not turn out as they anticipated. It’s a real joy to watch our children discover new concepts for themselves and to share their pleasure.
2. Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
Developing positive relationships with our pupils is a strength. We know that children learn best when they are happy, well supported and feel safe and secure. We recognise the importance of positive relationships and the impact these have on a child’s self esteem and confidence. We know that confident, self assured children are more willing to explore new experiences and resources, which can only have a positive impact on development.
Pupils are encouraged to work independently but also within small groups where they can interact with peers and adults in a variety of ways. Pupils learn how to share and take turns within these first years of school which teaches them important skills that will prepare them for learning beyond the classroom.
Pupils are taught the daily routines of their school day which includes expectations during lessons and play. Adults consistently model appropriate language and actions to ensure pupils practice these daily and choose to do the ‘right’ thing when times get tricky. Adults constantly encourage pupils to join activities and pupils are given opportunities to join when they are ‘ready to learn’ – this allows pupils to make positive choices and to be responsible for their own learning and behaviour.
3. Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers
Pupils in the early years start in our Primary one class, which currently has a mix of nursery and reception aged children. The classroom has its own outside area with a soft floor and several large pieces of play apparatus. The class has its only sensory room, bathroom area, role play area and kitchen, where pupils eat their snacks (and dinner if they are with us at that time of the day). There are currently twelve pupils on the class register but not all attend every session as our nursery aged children are only with us for three hours each day.
Pupil’s can continue to work on targets within the outdoor provision. Pupils can make a choice from activities carefully chosen to embed and extend previously learned skills. During continuous provision adults will also adapt activities to match priority targets. Pupils are encouraged to use their imaginations and to be inquisitive, creating their own play activities independently or with their peers.
Starting school can be an anxious time for both parents and children. Some pupils come to us from a private day nursery or preschool while others have not attended any early years setting. We recognise that for many parents, this may be the first time they have entrusted someone else with the care of their child. Developing a close home school relationship, which will develop and grow over many years is a key focus of us.
From an initial visit to school through to a new child feeling happy and settled, our aim is to work in partnership with parents to provide a bespoke transition package. If after an initial visit, parents feel that Stanton Vale might be the right place for their child, we would encourage a second visit and invite parents if appropriate, to bring their child for a taster session. Once a placement with us has been agreed, prior to a child starting with us, Faye Moore, our current Early Years teacher will arrange an informal visit to home to meet the child in a setting they are familiar with and to discuss key information with parents. To ensure a smooth transition into school, it is important that we find out as much as we can from those who know the child better than anyone else. If a child has been supported by other professionals before starting at school, for example a Portage Home Visitor or advisory teacher, we will be keen to chat with them about learning and current targets.
4. Children embrace learning and development in different ways and at different rates.
Children’s individual Education Health Care Plan outcomes provide the starting point for targets. From these, Faye and parents will then agree annual targets in the four areas of learning: communication, cognition, PSED and Physical development. These are then broken down into individual lesson objectives that are taught through a range of appropriate and exciting subjects. While pupils might learn and play together, they will each have their own set of targets, which are personal to them. Pupil’s interests are observed and built on to maximize potential engagement and progress. For example if a pupil has a keen interest in water play then their targets can be integrated into water play activities.
Some children are able to start school without much support, while others find this a little more tricky. If parents feel that their child would benefit from a phased entry, building up to fifteen hours we would rather facilitate this, than have an upset child whose first experiences of school are not positive. Sometimes parents choose to stay with their child for their first couple of sessions or stay in the school building so they are close by if they are needed and this is absolutely fine. When parents do start to leave their child with us, Faye is always happy, especially in the early days, to give them to let them know how the session has been.
If you would like to visit our happy and stimulating EYFS class, please call the school office to arrange this.