Early Years Foundation Stage
The EYFS is a very important stage in a child’s life as it helps prepare for school ‘readiness’ as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. Children’s early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs. Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences before the age of five will have a major impact on their future life chances.
The EYFS Framework explains how and what children will be learning to support their healthy development and provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.
The EYFS specifies requirements for learning and development and for safeguarding
children and promoting their welfare.
Children will learn skills, acquire new knowledge and demonstrate their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.
Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:
- Communication and language;
- Physical development; and
- Personal, social and emotional development.
These prime areas are those most essential for a child’s healthy development and future learning.
As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:
- Understanding the world; and
- Expressive arts and design.
All 7 areas of learning are used to plan children’s learning and activities. The professionals teaching and supporting your child at Sacred Heart will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. This is a little bit like the curriculum in the rest of the school but it's suitable for very young children, and it's designed to be really flexible so that staff can follow your child's unique needs and interests.
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside. It is very important that they develop social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing and independence, which help them greatly in the next stages of their learning. The guiding principles that shape our practice in the Early Years are that children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them. Development is not an automatic process, however. It depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments.
This does not mean that all your child's learning is divided up into specific areas. One experience may provide a child with opportunities to develop a number of skills and concepts across several areas of learning. Your child's records will be passed on from either our Nursery and/or Pre-school groups, enabling us to ensure continuity throughout the Early Years Foundation stage.
Phonics teaching and learning are a key part of the Foundation Stage and help to develop early reading and writing skills. If you visited Nursery or a Reception class, you would see a range of activities taking place such as role-play, practical games, painting, cutting and sticking and reading in the book corner. You would also see the outdoor classroom in operation, with equipment such as bikes, cars, sand and water.
Children work and play independently, with a strong emphasis on choice and being able to sustain concentration on projects, as well as joining a variety of adult-led activities. We encourage a partnership with parents so they are actively involved in their children's learning.
Early Learning Goals
The EYFS curriculum consists of 17 aspects of learning. At Sacred Heart we provide our pupils with the opportunities the meet the Early Learning Goals in all of these aspects.
To find out more about the Early Learning Goals click the link below.
Assessment plays an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. 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 their interactions with children, practitioners should respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress, and observations that parents and carers share. To this end we make systematic observations and assessments of each child's achievements, interests and learning styles. We then use these observations and assessments to identify learning priorities and plan relevant and motivating learning experiences for each child.
At the end of Reception, each child’s level of development is assessed against the Early Learning Goals (above). Practitioners will indicate whether children are meeting expected levels of development:
- Emerging: not yet reaching expected levels of development for age
- Expected: meeting the expected levels of development for age
Parents and Year 1 teachers will have access to the Profile report together with a short commentary on each child’s skills and abilities in relation to the three key characteristics of effective learning. These will inform transition meetings between Reception and Year 1 teachers about each child’s stage of development and learning needs and assist with the planning of activities at the start of Year 1.
The characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:
- 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
- creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
These characteristics are also woven into our planning and observation cycle when thinking about your child's next steps and progression.