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Early Years

INTENT

 

At St Mary & St Margaret’s we believe that all children deserve an education rich in wonder and memorable experiences that allows their natural creativity and curiosity to flourish, alongside the purposeful acquisition of skills and knowledge. We believe that an education that does all of this gives children the best chance to become well-rounded, happy individuals, ready to succeed in an ever-changing world.

 

Our curriculum is intended to set the foundations for a lifelong love of reading and stories; texts are carefully selected to underpin themes that we believe enable children to grow up with a love of learning.

 

Our curriculum is designed to support children in developing positive mental health, building on the five aspects of SMILE (socialise, move, interest, learn & engage – based on the NHS ‘5 ways to wellbeing’).

Through building our curriculum around our school values, we aim to help children to grow into young people:

· with a lifelong love for learning

· who care for each other and the world

· who value differences

· who achieve their potential

· who develop a sense of their place in God’s world

· who understand how they can make a positive difference to this world

· and who develop the life skills needed to do so.

 

These curriculum intentions begin in Early Years and continue to be the foundations of all we do throughout school.

 

At St Mary & St Margaret’s, 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 know that our children enter the Nursery and Reception classes with varied life experiences and we aim to plan teaching and learning opportunities accordingly.

 

The Early Learning Goals set out the expectations for children by the end of EYFS (end of reception year). We, as a school, recognise the crucial role that Early Years education has to play in providing firm foundations upon which the rest of a child’s education is successfully based.

It is our intention to provide, within the context of our school values, a broadly enriched, rounded and stimulating learning environment where children can learn with adults and peers in a climate of mutual respect to develop:

· Confidence in their ability to learn.

· The social skills necessary to learn.

· The emotional capabilities to enable them to understand their feelings and to solve problems.

· As a unique child.

We aim to provide children, with a well-structured, safe, active learning environment both indoors and outdoors. This will enable them to develop the skills, attitudes and understanding that will form the basis of lifelong learning and encourage them to become useful, active members of a diverse and constantly changing society.

 

IMPLEMENTATION

 

At St Mary & St Margaret’s we meet the welfare requirements laid down in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. We actively safeguard and promote the welfare of all of our children. We recognise that children will learn most effectively when they are happy, healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met and when they have positive relationships with the adults who care for them. Our setting provides a safe and stimulating environment where children are able to enjoy learning and grow in confidence, helping them to achieve their potential.

 

We immerse children in a world where books and stories are highly valued, building our thematic learning around carefully chosen texts. Texts and activities are chosen as the starting point for explicit discussion and exemplification of our school values, helping children begin to develop an early understanding of the importance of these values and how they can be shown in their own lives. Opportunity is given through worship times and discussion to help children reflect upon their place in God’s world.

 

Activities are chosen to ensure children experience all aspects of SMILE (i.e. socialising, being physically active, taking time to notice and wonder at the world around them, learning new things and engaging in a way that helps them make a positive difference to their world) – in this way, we help them develop habits and approaches to life that support their positive mental health.

 

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.

 

In Early Years, our curriculum is planned and implemented using a cross curricular thematic approach underpinned by our school values. This approach we feel gives children the opportunities to apply learning from across the curriculum that gives their work practical context and also opportunities to apply knowledge and skills they have learned within “real world” problem solving. Learning is developed through a series of lessons that build skills, knowledge and understanding within each topic of learning.

 

The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage reflects the three prime areas and four specific areas of learning identified in the Early Learning Goals, all of which are equally valued at St Mary & St Margaret’s. Our children experience a rich and varied diet of adult-initiated and adult-directed activities, child-initiated activities and a problem-solving approach to learning, enabling them to develop a number of competences across all areas of learning.

 

Development Matters and the Early Learning Goals are in line with the National Curriculum and provide the basis for planning throughout the Foundation Stage.

 

St Mary & St Margaret’s provides a safe, stimulating outdoor learning environment in order to enhance teaching and learning in engaging, problem solving, investigative and explorative ways. Children have daily opportunities to access the outdoor environment which also enables them to increase their levels of physical activity. Children’s learning is enabled within the outdoor learning environment which is seen as an extension of the classroom within which children are encouraged to use and apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills through outdoor learning opportunities that also engage all pupils in a positive way with their local, natural environment.

 

Throughout the Nursery and Reception years, as part of the learning and teaching process, children are assessed in relation to their progress towards Development Matters and, at the end of their Reception year, the Early Learning Goals.

 

These judgements are made on the basis of accumulative observations and in-depth knowledge of the children acquired through ongoing assessment. These ongoing assessments are used to inform planning and next steps in teaching and learning for all children throughout the year. 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 statements as set out in our curriculum.

 

IMPACT

 

With the successful implementation of both an enriched, rounded and balanced curriculum and a well-structured, safe, active and challenging learning environment, both indoors and outdoors, children will be able to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that enable them to be successful learners. Children will be actively engaged in learning and their enjoyment of this learning will be apparent to all. All children will have experienced a curriculum that provides exciting and enriching experiences and opportunities for them to learn through educational visits, visitors and hands on experiences. Children will appreciate and understand the world around them, knowing about and valuing different cultures, music, dance, art and history. They will care both for each other and for the world around them. Children will actively ask questions this world and about their learning experiences – they will not fear making mistakes, but instead see them as opportunities to learn. Children will be able to make links within their learning, developing skills and building knowledge that they are able to use and apply across the curriculum. Children will also become skilful at solving problems and will develop both resilience and independent learning skills. Children will be successful learners who are fully prepared for the next stage of their education. They will increasingly be able to make sense of the world around them; they will develop tolerance, compassion and an understanding of their rights and the rights of others in our ever-evolving world. By the end of Reception children will have developed essential knowledge and skills required for everyday life and lifelong learning.

 

Children at St Mary & St Margaret’s will be well-rounded, happy, enthusiastic, inquisitive and successful learners who embody our values. They will have the confidence, skills and self-belief to achieve their potential and will have a strongly developed sense of their own worth and their ability to make a positive impact on the world around them.

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