From the moment that parents choose Goat Lees Primary School they are made to feel at ease as communication with the parents and carers is our priority. We strongly believe that the education and care of each individual child is key. The Early Years team and school leaders welcome parents and children, by inviting them to a meeting in the Summer term before children begin school. Parents are given information about the school values, ethos and school community. Parents and carers and children have the opportunity to meet the team, ask questions and the children are able to explore their new setting. Children are invited to attend transition days, picnics on the school field, and the annual summer fair. These events support the parents and children with the transition from preschool to primary school, which can be an emotional time for all involved.
Our EYFS team make visits to each child’s preschool setting and carry out home visits during those first few weeks of the children starting school. All these interactions with parents, key workers, and children ensure that the EYFS team recognise, understand and consider each child’s prior learning and life experiences. Children’s understanding is carefully planned for and assessed via the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA), teacher baselines and language link assessments. Starting points are identified and opportunities to learn and develop skills, concepts and values are planned for. Children will experience a broad range of learning opportunities. These will consist of whole class teaching, small group work, and individual learning time. At Goat Lees Primary School, we believe that the correct mix of adult directed and child-initiated play ensures for the best outcomes for pupils. Therefore, there is time for the children to learn and develop skills, alongside their peers, through ‘choosing time’ which is when children can develop independence by choosing the resources that they wish to use for any particular purpose.
At Goat Lees, we offer a curriculum that will immerse children in rich experiences. It is our intent that our children in EYFS will develop the language and communication skills that allow them to share their ideas, thoughts and feelings with each other and adults. We aim for our children to be confident and independent, to believe in themselves and interact positively with others. We recognise the crucial role that the Early Years has in ensuring the firm foundations for wider learning and later educational success and well-being.
In Reception, our children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that the children have rigorous directed teaching in Phonics, English and Maths every day, with regular circle time, Physical Education and outdoor learning sessions. Teacher-led inputs are followed by group and individual work where children work with a member of staff to develop their knowledge and skills. This focus time gives the EYFS staff time to systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and can provide real-time verbal feedback which has a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.
Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in exploration throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for both inside classroom and the outside area and equal importance is given to learning in both areas. The curriculum is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable development in Understanding the World, Expressive Arts and Design as well as to promote sustained thinking and active learning. Each week the EYFS teachers, with the feedback from support staff, hold a planning session that focuses on what the children have learned, need to learn or are curious about and what needs to change in the environment to facilitate the learning and progress of each individual child. This ensures that the children are at the heart of our planning and that the provision enables progress.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and underpins children’s access to the curriculum and their achievement. Our children follow the rigorous Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Phonics scheme. Parents are invited to Phonics workshops in school, to ensure that they have the knowledge and understanding to support their child at home with their reading.
We follow the White Rose Maths scheme. White Rose focuses on developing deep understanding rather than memorisation. This means that it helps children develop self-belief, persistence and resilience. White Rose Maths offers a 'small steps' progression and yearly frameworks, which allow children to learn at their own pace while still achieving high standards.
Our inclusive approach means that the children learn together but we have a range of additional interventions and support to scaffold children who may need extra support. This includes Language sessions for children struggling with language development, Phonics and Maths catch-up groups. The characteristics of Effective Learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations of children.
The Early Years curriculum (please see below) at Goat Lees is rich and varied which results in children making a good level of progress that is individual to their strengths and abilities. As EYFS staff, we collaborate our knowledge of each child towards the end of the academic year to decide whether they have met the standards that are laid out in the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) and so whether they have made a Good Level of Development (GLD). Building and developing the children’s personal, social and emotional skills as well as their communication skills results in children moving into Year 1 as confident individuals that are able to communicate their wants and needs to both adults and their friends.
We believe that risk-taking is a part of learning, especially in the Early Years and so our children are keen to do so through our outside provision, well-planned and thought-through resources and topics. We enhance our provision to progress the children’s skills in all areas of the curriculum and adapt planning as is needed which results in engaged and enthusiastic learners. We assess the children daily through observations and questioning and so we can provide immediate feedback to the children that is meaningful and also identifies the children’s next steps. Phonics assessments are carried out by an Early Years teacher every six weeks where children’s knowledge of phonemes, decoding and blending and tricky words is assessed. This data then highlights those children that require daily rapid catch-up sessions to ensure they continue to make progress. We make termly teacher assessments with the input of all members of the EYFS team. This data is recorded and we are able to talk parents and carers through where their child is at and where we would like them to go next when we meet at Parent Consultations held in October and March. An end of year report is sent home in July which provides information about progress made and whether the child is on track for making a good level of development.
Above all, our children leave us happy and ready for the next step, as do parents and carers. This is because we are always available where possible to talk to, we have blue contact books for each child for any messages that either parents or we need to write, we are open and honest with parents and because we listen to them and work together.
Early Years/Reception Curriculum
The Early Years curriculum is based upon the three characteristics of effective learning:
Playing and Exploring - finding out and exploring; using what they know in play and being willing to have a go
Active Learning - being involved and concentrating
Creating and Thinking Critically - having their own ideas; using what they already know to learn new things and choosing ways to do things and finding new ways.
The children are assessed when they enter Reception through observations of how they interact with their peers, conversations and both teacher-led and child-initiated activities.
Staff make their own baseline assessments focusing on the three Prime areas:
- Personal, Social & Emotional Development
- Physical Development
- Communication & Language
The four Specific areas of learning are:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
We also carry out the statutory Reception Baseline Assessments (RBA) within the first six weeks of the children starting school. RBA is an age-appropriate assessment of Mathematics and Literacy, Communication & Language (LCL) that is delivered in English. The purpose of the RBA is to provide an on-entry assessment of pupil attainment to be used as a starting point from which a cohort-level progress measure to the end of Key Stage 2 can be created. Staff will also carry out a Language Link assessment that is used to identify and support the children having difficulty understanding language.
Each morning the children enter the school and self-register by finding and placing their name card in the lunch tray of their choice. They can choose from a packed lunch or a cooked lunch that changes daily. They then hang up their bags and coats, wash their hands and find a ‘Clever Fingers’ activity to do. These are activities that have been carefully selected by their teachers to develop their fine motor skills. The children can also chat with their friends during this time which helps them to settle nicely into their day.
The children then come to the carpet for registration and whole class Phonics. Our Phonics lesson lasts for up to twenty minutes. As a school we follow the ‘Little Wandle’ Phonics Programme. We cover Phase 2, 3 and 4 within EYFS. Additional adults support focus children to ensure they are making progress with the programme. We have three guided reading sessions each week in school , the books we use are matched to the phase the children are at and come from the Little Wandle (Big Cat) reading scheme. For further information, please see the English Curriculum page on our website.
After Phonics the children move into child-initiated learning which we refer to as ‘choosing time.’ The children are able to independently access resources both inside the classroom and in the outside area that they wish to play with. This ranges from art materials, small world toys, imaginative play resources and dress-up, building materials, water and sand. We often enhance the resources available to the children based on their individual interests and what we may be learning in school that week. During this time, we also run our teacher-led groups for Literacy and Maths.
Reception starts the year with a focus on Personal, Social and Emotional Development. Through carefully selected stories the children are provided with lots of opportunities to learn how to get on with others and make friends, understand and talk about feelings, learn about right and wrong, develop independence and ultimately feel good about themselves. We believe that early PSED has a huge impact on their later wellbeing and learning achievement.
If you would like to see our Early Years progression of skills document, please click here.