Early Years Foundation Stage
At St Josephs’ Early Years we recognise the importance of giving our children the best possible start to their education by planning and implementing teaching and learning opportunities that support them in reaching their full potential. We provide a fun and engaging curriculum, working with parents and families to prepare children well for Year One and beyond.
Our enhanced curriculum is delivered using the non-statutory Development Matters document and the Foundation Stage Early Learning Goals as a guide. The Foundation Stage Early Learning Goals set out expectations for children by the end of the reception year. It is our intention to provide, within the context of our school’s Mission Statement, a broadly enriched, rounded and stimulating learning experience where children can work with adults and peers in a climate of mutual respect to develop;
- The social skills necessary to develop positive relationships with others and to support children’s effective learning.
- Confidence in their ability to learn, resilience and a ‘can do’ attitude.
- The emotional capabilities to enable them to understand their feelings and to solve problems.
- Knowledge and skills across all areas of the EYFS curriculum.
At St Joseph’s Early Years we recognise our learning environment as ‘the third teacher’. We aim to provide children with a welcoming, safe, carefully resourced learning environment, both indoors and outdoors, which encourages progression in children’s skills and knowledge from Pre-School to Reception class and beyond. This will enable them to develop the attitudes, understanding and characteristics of effective learning that will form the basis of lifelong learning and will provide the foundations needed for them to become useful, active members of a diverse and constantly changing society.
Please refer to Appendix A which details our curriculum outline.
We use the EYFS Development Matters as a guide; they include three prime areas and four specific areas of learning identified in the Early Learning Goals, all of which are equally valued at St Joseph’s Early Years.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Self-regulation; Managing Self; Building Relationships
Communication and Language: Listening, Attention and Understanding; Speaking
Physical development: Gross Motor Skills; Fine Motor Skills
Literacy: Comprehension; Word Reading; Writing
Mathematics: Number; Number; Numerical Patterns
Understanding the World; Past and Present; People, Culture and Communities; The Natural World
Expressive Arts and Design: Creating with Materials; Being Imaginative and Expressive.
Our specific areas of learning, the Development Matters included in them and the Early Learning Goals that children are working towards achieving by the end of Reception Class, link to school subjects taught from Year 1. One of the Past and Present Early Learning Goals, ‘Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class’, for example, links to History. One of the Creating with Materials Early Learning Goals, ‘Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function’, for example, links to the school Art and Design and Computing school subjects. Knowledge and skills that the children have developed in Early Years is built upon as children move into Year 1 and beyond, as shown in our subject progression grids.
To find out more please see our school subject policies.
Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning
Underpinning these areas of learning are the Characteristics of Effective Learning which is how children learn:
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
The Development Matters and Early Learning Goals provide some of the basis for planning throughout the Foundation Stage. We are ambitious in that we also incorporate knowledge and skills that we know children need to develop, as well as additional skills and learning from the National Curriculum, to support their transition and learning into year one and beyond, e.g. using a range of maths resources in line with our school’s maths mastery approach; encouraging children to use expression when reading during guided reading sessions.
In Pre-School we support the development of children’s learning through play using ‘in the moment planning’. Staff observe and interact with children as they pursue their own interests, and assess children, moving their learning on in that moment. Across the foundation stage we understand the huge importance of children’s communication skills and recognise that a good vocabulary sets children up for life. Knowing and using more words helps children to: develop confidence; articulate what they want and what they are thinking; and make friends. Our daily Pre-School routine therefore includes a strong focus on developing children’s language and communication skills through: supporting children’s pronunciation of sounds; building up children’s rich vocabularies; developing children’s understanding and comprehension. In order to support the development of children’s rich vocabularies we: promote a love of books and reading; provide an array of exciting resources and areas to explore; learn and extend knowledge of nursery rhymes, poems and stories; and have daily ‘in the moment’ phonics activities.
In Reception Class, we recognise that children’s success in reading, writing and maths is strongly linked to secure development in the Prime areas of learning and we build on children’s prior learning in Pre-School. While children still have opportunities to learn through play, the routine becomes more structured as the year progresses. From the first weeks in Reception class children engage in daily phonics sessions (reading / writing), daily ‘snappy maths’ sessions, guided reading in small groups three times a week, and daily class stories. In Reception class we also have daily Show and Tell sessions. These sessions help children to develop confidence speaking in front of others, their vocabularies and communication skills, questioning and answering skills, and have a new theme each half term, for example, ‘My experiences’, ‘Things that work’, ‘My achievements’, ‘My favourite books’.
Across the foundation stage we support the development of children’s positive behaviour and help children to develop their own self-regulation regarding their actions and emotions by gently teaching them how to behave with others, what is acceptable behaviour, how to make friends and how to be kind. Our Early Years Golden Rules are ‘Share’and ‘Kind mouth’.
To find out more please see our school Behaviour policy.
Phonics and Reading
Throughout their time in Pre-school, children have opportunities to get involved in a range of Phase 1 activities such as: going on listening walks; exploring ‘Toy Talk’ and exploring musical instruments. In Pre-school there is a key focus upon oral blending and segmenting modelled by adults during sessions. In the second part of the summer term children are introduced to the first 6 letter sounds in Letters and Sounds phase 2. Weekly phonics challenges are shared with parents so that children can practise these fundamental phonics skills at home. In their final term in Pre-school, children are encouraged to recognise and have a go at writing their own name.
In Reception class to Year 2 children engage in Monster Phonics sessions on a daily basis where they are taught letter sounds, tricky words and high frequency words. Monster Phonics is a highly advanced multisensory scheme. It uses 10 monsters to categorise all sounds into 10 simple areas. This accelerates learning, providing an easy and fun memory cue for children. The colour-coded grapheme system is unique to Monster Phonics; each coloured grapheme is paired with a monster character that makes the same sound to give audio-visual prompts that help children ‘see’ each sound within a word and pronounce it correctly. The Monster Phonics program is in line with letters and sounds and our guided reading system. Daily ‘keep up’ interventions provide extra opportunities for children to practise their phonics skills.
Progression in phonics from Early Years into Y2.
Letters and sounds Phase 1: environmental sounds; instrumental sounds; body percussion; rhythm and rhyme; alliteration; voice sounds; and oral blending and segmenting
Continue to practise and embed Letters and Sounds Phase 1.
Adults continue to model oral blending and segmenting
Continue to practise and embed Letters and Sounds Phase 1.
Adults model oral blending and segmenting
Introduce Phase 2 letter sounds s, a, t, p, i, n.
Term 1 teaches initial sounds and Reception Decodable and Tricky words. Consonant digraphs are introduced, as are some vowel digraphs. Each lesson follows the simple routine of an introductory teacher-led PowerPoint, song and an activity. Each lesson focuses only on words that use graphemes that have been taught so far.
Term 2 continues to teach vowel digraphs and Reception decodable and tricky words. Lessons follow a routine format with familiar activities being used across the term. Well-known repetitive traditional stories and songs provide a focus for activities to develop reading and writing in sentences. The aim is to provide real and meaningful contexts for practising blending and segmenting graphemes.
Term 3 focus is on the skills of blending and segmenting CCVC, CVCC, CCVCC, CVC+ previously taught digraphs. Lessons continue to follow the routine format taught across Term 2. Well-known traditional repetitive stories and songs provide a focus for activities to blending and segmenting skills, whilst increasing automaticity to read and write captions and sentences.
Term 1 of Year 1 teaches the National Curriculum Year 1 graphemes, all of the Year 1 CEWs and the first 100 HFWs. The addition of suffixes ed, s/es, ing, er and est (with no change to the root word) is introduced in specific spelling lessons and continues to be taught and reinforced in grapheme lessons.
All National Curriculum Year 1 graphemes are taught by week 9 of term 2. At this point, revision lessons commence. The daily activities set out in the Revision Worksheets check for gaps in learning, further reinforce word lists, practise grammatical rules and dictation. Videos and PowerPoints from term 1 reinforce word lists and rules. Term 2 teaches the remainder of the National Curriculum Year 1 graphemes, the next 200 HFWs, the prefix un and the k before e, i and y rule. All of the first 300 HFWs have been taught by the end of this term.
Term 3 begins with the preparation for the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check, using real and nonsense word reading activities and a mock phonics screen. The remainder of the term focuses on the revision of the Year 1 graphemes. Spelling rules, HFWs and CEWs are recapped in the last 3 weeks.
For further information please see our school Phonics Policy.
At St. Joseph's we value Reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is key for academic success across the curriculum. To ensure every child has the best possible start in Reading, in EYFS we have daily storytime sessions and Reception class are taught Guided Reading in small groups three times a week.
For further information please see our school English policy
Children can access the outdoor environment which enables them to increase their levels of physical activity. The Early Years playgrounds have been very carefully designed to support progression of children’s skills, for example, children develop gross motor movements, balance and coordination skills digging in the Pre-School sand pit and the Reception Class gravel pit challenges children further, requiring them to use more physical strength and coordination while digging and transporting, as well as building problem solving skills. These gross motor movements support children’s fine motor skills, including using pencils for writing.
In Pre-School a wide range of activities supporting early writing skills are provided within the continuous provision which support the development of children’s fine motor skills and finger strength such as; gardening, woodwork, modelling with playdough, water painting, chalking and drawing, messaging (writing messages), and learning to use a knife and fork correctly. Staff support and encourage the development of children’s pencil grip as they progress from using palmer grasp to using a comfortable grip and also teach children to begin to write some letters from their own name in preparation for Reception class.
In Reception class staff build on the skills children have developed in Pre-School, teaching children how to use the correct pencil grip and writing posture, and supporting children’s letter formation and letter size. By the end of Reception class we aim for children to be able to use their phonic knowledge and writing skills to be able to independently write short sentences.
For further information please see our school English policy and English Long Term Overview.
In Early Years as part of our school mission, we promote British Values and teach the children to respect and celebrate differences through a range of activities such as learning about Chinese New Year and visiting a local Chinese restaurant, voting for which books we would like at story time, and learning to be kind and a good friend. In Pre-School children join in with our school lunch time, end of the day and daily prayers. They begin to learn similarities between everyone and develop an awareness of the world. From Reception class to Year 6 children follow the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s curriculum strategy for RE ‘Learning and Growing as the people of God’. In Reception class, this includes learning about: bible stories; attending Mass; learning about our school’s values and virtues; and learning about a range of topics such as Creation, Christmas, People who help us, and Easter. In Reception we also follow the TenTen Pathway Program, Life to the full.
For more information, please see our school RE policy.
Teaching and assessment
Throughout the Pre-School and Reception years as part of the learning and teaching process, Development Matters are used as guidance as children progress towards the Early Learning Goals. These judgements are made on the basis of practitioner and team knowledge, ongoing assessment and group moderation. Our ongoing assessments are used to inform planning, teaching and learning for all children throughout the year. In Early Years our assessments help us to identify when individual children need extra support, for example: learning how to hold a pencil correctly; learning to build friendships; support with speech and language. Activities are tailored to provide support for individual children, sharing strategies with parents. Practitioner knowledge and assessments also help to identify when children need further challenge and where appropriate some children may begin to work into their next year group’s curriculum. End of year assessments are finalised during the summer term, summarising each child’s development at that point against the Early Learning Goals and Development Matters.
For further information please see our school Teaching and Assessment and Inclusion policies.
Working with parents.
In Pre-school, staff provide daily feedback to parents about their child’s day. Parents are also invited to meet with their child’s Key Worker on a half-termly basis. During this meeting we discuss children’s progress and achievements, and identify areas in which we can work together to further support children’s development and progress. Throughout the year there are opportunities for families to get involved in various sessions with their child in pre-school such as: joining us on trips into the local area and beyond, fun mark-making sessions, parent phonics workshops, ‘getting your child school ready’ workshops, our Early Years Nativity and much more. Pre-school children also have fun home challenge tasks such as going on nature hunts, practising counting during play at home or going on ‘listening walks’ for example.
Before starting Reception Class, families are invited to our Open Evening, a session in Reception Class and a Teddy Bear’s picnic. In the first week of the school year, we offer home visits. These have proven to be very popular and a fabulous opportunity for children to meet their YR teacher and TA again just before they start school, for us to find out about a child’s interests, and for Parents to find out and share any further information. Once children start Reception class, parents are invited to Parents Evenings in the autumn and spring terms, and an Open Evening in the summer term. In addition to this, the Reception teacher also offers informal ‘drop in’ sessions each term where the teacher shares a snapshot of the children’s learning, progress and achievements. Throughout the year parents are also invited to our Monster Phonics, writing, RE and mathematics workshops where we share what and how we are teaching your child in school. Reception class children also have homework linked to what they are learning in class.
For more information please see our school Homework policy
Transition to Year 1
In the summer term children in Reception class begin their transition to Year 1. This includes the Year 1 teacher visiting reception class for story time, a tour of the Year 1 classroom, and short transition sessions to Year 1 which gradually increase to a full morning or afternoon session on the whole school transition day. Children have the opportunity to meet their new teacher, explore their new classroom and find out about exciting new responsibilities and experiences they will have in Year 1. In Reception class we also offer a parent workshop based upon transition to Year 1.
Children at St. Joseph’s are happy, inquisitive, engaged and successful learners who care for themselves and others. The majority of our pupils achieve a good level of development and are fully prepared for the next stage of their education as they transition from Foundation Stage to Year 1.
We meet the legal requirements for:
- Safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare.
- Providing suitable adults with appropriate qualifications, training, skills and knowledge.
- Maintaining records, policies and procedures for the safe and efficient management of the setting and to meet the needs of the children.
- Planning and organisation to ensure that every child receives an enjoyable and challenging learning and developmental experience tailored to meet their individual needs.