The aim of the Early Years policy is to provide a framework for the Early Years curriculum and promote good practice.
The Foundation Stage unit at Walverden Primary School consists of a nursery unit and 2 reception classes. The nursery intake consists of 50 children separated into 25 children in the mornings and 25 children in the afternoons and the reception unit has an intake of 60 children per year, which are organised into two classes each taking up to 30 children. The vast majority of children entering Walverden Primary School come through our own nursery with a small number coming from McMillan Nursery and the surrounding child care settings. The foundation stage staff from all settings work hard to maintain strong links and to create a smooth transition between the settings. The admission procedure follows the guidelines set out by Lancashire County Council. (see Lancashire County Councils admission policy)
After they have been offered a place at Walverden Nursery they will then be invited to attend the initial induction meeting. The meetings are organised into two afternoons where the parents are offered the chance to meet the Head teacher, Deputy Head teacher, Foundation Stage Staff and the SENCO. This initial meeting is where the induction procedures, general school information and the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum are discussed. The parents will receive the school brochure, emergency contact and health forms, there is also time for the parents to ask questions and discuss any queries they may have.
After the initial meetings the parents and children are invited into the nursery to explore the setting, meet the staff and begin the transition process.
During the first week of September the staff will visit the homes of each child, during which they will be informed of the start date for their child and if they are to attend nursery in the mornings or afternoons. The nursery here at Walverden operates a staggered intake, where the children are slowly integrated into the life of the nursery in order to make the transition from home to nursery as smooth as possible.
The induction procedure begins early in the summer term with the Foundation Stage Coordinator making visits to the nurseries to hold informal discussions with the nursery staff. The Foundation Stage staff at Walverden also visit the nurseries to observe the children and identify any needs the children may have (where necessary). The information gathered at these visits is then used to organise the children into the two classes.
The parents of all children coming to school at Walverden are invited into to school to attend the initial induction meeting. The meetings are organised into two afternoons where the parents are offered the chance to meet the Head teacher, Deputy Head teacher, Foundation Stage Staff and the SENCO. This initial meeting is where the induction procedures, general school information and the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum are discussed. The parents will receive the school brochure, emergency contact and health forms, there is also time for the parents to ask questions and discuss any queries they may have.
During the summer term the children and their parents are invited into school for a number of play and stay sessions where they will get to know the other children and families. During theses sessions they will also have chance to visit the reception unit.
At the beginning of the Autumn term the reception staff will either undertake visits to the homes of all the children starting at Walverden or invite them into school for a parent/teacher informal interview. The class teacher and bilingual assistant will discuss any medical concerns, questions or general issues the parents may have. The class teacher will also have a variety of tasks to do with the children, which will help the foundation staff to make the school transition easier for the child. At this visit the parents will be given the start date for their child. All children will begin school full time straight away.
Aims for the Early Years Foundation Stage
We at Walverden believe that childhood is a time of play, and through play we discover the excitement of learning, the rewards of achievement and acquire our life skills. The early years setting, with its bright, colourful, noisy, well planned, busy environment, encourages the children in the development of skills, attitudes and understanding that will help them to live full and satisfying lives and become confident, useful, active members of a diverse and constantly changing society.
It is through this process that children will work towards, achieve and in some cases exceed the Early learning Goals.
We believe that the curriculum for the Early Years Foundation Stage should underpin all future learning by supporting, fastening, promoting and developing the whole child.
Play in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The QCA guidance for the new Early Years Foundation Stage (Early Years Foundation Stage Framework 2012) underlines the importance of play, both indoors and outdoors. Well planned play is a key way in which young children learn with enjoyment and challenge, as it helps them to explore ideas, roles and relationships whilst displaying different behaviours and skills.
The early years team here at Walverden all have specialist training, knowledge and expertise in working with young children and use this when planning play activities by:
Planning and resourcing a challenging environment
Supporting children’s learning through planned play activities
Extending and supporting children’s spontaneous play
Extending and developing children’s language and communication through their play
We believe that adults involved in children’s play activities need to facilitate and extend the children’s learning through the planned play activities. High quality adult support is invaluable in extending children’s learning, and here at Walverden we endeavour to extend the learning through well planned play activities.
Learning and Teaching in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years curriculum is based on the Early Years Foundation Stage Guidance documents provided by the DFCS and is planned to lead smoothly into the National Curriculum at KS1 in a way which is relevant and meaningful for all children.
The Early Years Foundation Stage guidance works alongside the Every Child Matters document and underlines the 4 main principles which guide the work of all early year’s practitioners.
The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum works with children from birth to 5 and stresses the importance of children’s Personal, social and emotional development, Communication and Language and Physical Development. It is believed that these prime areas of learning underpin all future learning for children and will be our main focus here at Walverden.
The curriculum for the Early Years Foundation Stage is organised into 7 areas of learning which begins at birth and continues through the early years ending with the Early Learning Goals.
The 7 areas of learning are then broken down into development areas, which culminate in the Early Learning Goals at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage. The Early Learning Goals help the foundation stage team to plan the learning environment, activities and experiences and provide a framework for teaching within the Early Years foundation stage.
At Walverden School we are working towards the children achieving most aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum by the end of the foundation stage. We are working with our feeder nurseries to identify the children’s developing knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes to learning using the development areas. Once the children enter Walverden School we use this prior knowledge to identify and track the children’s progress through the Foundation Stage. We work closely with Key Stage 1 to continue the children’s development through the Foundation Stage and on to the National Curriculum. We aim to make the transition from the Foundation Stage to Key Stage 1 as smooth as possible, by sharing information gathered within the foundation stage and continuing the learning for the children as individuals.
We recognise that children’s learning is holistic and they neither recognise nor benefit from being confined within a subject boundary. We aim to provide a coherent curriculum that provides a clear focus for learning and draws together relevant activities which contribute to the development of the whole child. With this in mind the foundation team plan a topic based curriculum, where the 7 areas of learning are entwined through topics that aim to engage the children in all areas.
Reading and Writing in the Foundation Stage
At Walverden School within the foundation stage we use the Jolly Phonics and Letters and Sounds schemes for learning the letter sounds and for developing early reading skills. We aim to teach the children the full 42 sounds of the English Language within the first term of the reception year.
Throughout the foundation stage we employ the principle of emergent writing whereby the children use their knowledge of phonemes to write words and sentences phonetically.
Parental Involvement and Community links
In the foundation stage unit at Walverden Primary School we believe the parents and carers to be co-educators of the children and as such we respect the learning both inside and outside of the school environment. As the children start school they and their parents are asked to complete a home school agreement (see appendix). The home school agreement outlines the importance of the school and the parents working together to co-educate the children.
In the foundation stage we value the parents and carers as co-educators of the children and we aim to foster these parental links in a variety of ways. We operate an open door policy in the foundation stage and as such we encourage the parents to discuss any problems or questions they may have with the class teachers and the foundation stage staff.
We encourage the parents to become actively involved in their child’s education through holding curriculum days, sending regular homework and story sacks home for the parents to use with their children.
Equal Opportunities, Inclusion and Special Education Needs
We believe that all children have a right to a full and inclusive education and as such we aim to deliver a curriculum that is accessible to all children irrespective of their ethnic, race and cultural heritage. (see equal opportunities and inclusion policies)
We aim to set a challenging curriculum that enhances the learning of children with special educational needs and enriches the learning of gifted and talented children. (see SEN and gifted and talented policies)
On entry to Walverden Nursery and the Reception classes each child will be assigned a key worker. The aim of the key workers is to develop a bond and links with the child and their parents and to ensure a smooth transition through the Foundation Unit. The children will have access to daily key worker sessions where they will have time to talk and share their experiences from school and home. The parents will be informed of the child’s key worker and have time to talk to and share information with the key worker.
All Key workers will be responsible for the collection of observations and assessments for their key worker groups. However the class teachers have overall responsibility for collation of observations and assessments.
We believe a key element to developing the whole child is to foster their independence. As such through the curriculum we aim to create independent and confident learners who are able to take charge of their own learning.
Assessment, recording and reporting
The children here at Walverden are monitored and assessed in a variety of ways throughout the school year.
We use the foundation stage profile as a constant assessment of the children’s learning. All foundation stage staff are trained to observe and assess the children’s day to day learning using a variety of methods such as observations, set tasks, teacher directed activities and child centred activities. The class teachers then use this information to assess the children against the stages of development and ultimately the early learning goals. The children will be assessed every half term and this information will be relayed to parents at the autumn and spring parent consultations.
Review date September 2016