Early Years Foundation Stage at Willow Bank Primary
We love learning in Early Years and provide our children with interesting and purposeful activities in our indoor and outdoor provision to engage them in their own learning. In our Reception class, the children develop through playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically. We believe that learning is most memorable for children when it is planned in a cross-curricular way, taking into consideration their own interests and thus enabling children to make links throughout their learning. We always ensure our activities include challenges for all learners, opportunities for children to develop through play and real-life experiences with lots of interaction from adults and peers. We have high expectations of both staff and pupils and always strive to achieve outstanding outcomes.
We work from the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS), which covers all areas of children’s learning and development from birth to five years old. There are 7 areas of learning which are divided into two areas, prime and specific.
The ‘prime areas’:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
The 'specific areas':
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
These lead to 17 Early Learning Goals, which summarise the knowledge, skills and understanding that children should gain by the end of the Early Years. Expected levels that children should reach at the end of the Reception year are called the Early Learning Goals (ELGs).
As well as what children learn, the EYFS sets out how children learn; the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ for example, encouraging children to keep going though difficulties, and to be creative and follow their own ideas.
We provide a careful balance between adult-led and child-initiated experiences. Children are supported in their development through play and exploration opportunities, short carpet sessions, and adult guided work. Although the curriculum is still play based as in Nursery, the balance shifts gradually throughout the Reception year towards more activities led by adults, to support children in their transition for more formal learning in Year 1. For example, Literacy (reading and writing) is taught through the phonics programme following ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds’ and Maths is taught through a mastery approach, which builds on from children’s learning of early mathematical concepts.
Throughout their Reception year, children are guided towards more activities led by adults, to support them in their transition for more formal learning in Year 1. For example, Literacy (reading and writing) is taught through the phonics programme following ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds’ and Maths is taught through a mastery approach which builds on from children’s learning of early mathematical concepts.
Our Reception children have the opportunity for daily outdoor learning supported through fully resourced outdoor areas, encouraging them to develop their independence in all areas. As part of the outside provision, Reception children will visit our Forest School throughout the year. Forest School allows the children to have the opportunity to develop skills through stimulating and challenging activities. It promotes problem solving and collaboration along with supporting many other areas of learning and development.
The classrooms and outdoor spaces are organised so that children can access most resources independently, take ownership of their own learning and provide opportunities for exploration. These are called ‘enabling environments.’ We follow children’s interests and provide ‘hands on’ experiences to engage the children during ‘free flow’ periods. Our resources are ‘open ended,’ and can be used flexibly so that the children are not restricted and can follow their interests and ideas creatively.
An important part of teaching in EYFS is through high quality interactions. Adults observe the children closely as they play and join in sensitively to support them and move their learning on, extending their language and thinking, and helping to develop their skills. Our aim is that our children leave Reception as confident, independent learners, ready for the challenges of Year 1.
Reception children take part in regular Forest School sessions over the academic year. Forest School offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence, resilience, self-esteem and teamwork through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.
Willow Bank Primary School has a Forest School which runs along the back and sides of our large playing field. The weekly sessions are tailored to the children’s age and the season, helping them to learn and enjoy being outdoors.
All children who take part in Forest School sessions must wear the appropriate clothing and footwear for the season.
Adults who run these sessions have a Forest School qualification.