'This is where the journey begins... it's where the magic starts'
Elizaveta - Year 3
Welcome to the Early Years!
The main purpose of Early Years education is to help children develop the skills and attitudes that they will need to live with others and that they will use throughout a lifetime of learning.
At Westbourne, our aim is to help your child become as independent as possible and to foster a love of learning by making it exciting and fun!
We have 3 Reception classes consisting of 30 children in each and our Nursery classes consist of 26 children in both the morning and afternoon sessions. In all our EYFS classes, we provide welcoming, supportive, caring, happy, secure and stimulating environments where children are given equal opportunities to develop and learn in a way and pace appropriate to them as individuals.
Children enjoy a play-based curriculum which is enhanced through school trips, themed weeks and special days. They are encouraged to make connections in their learning through a creative, topic based approach led by the children’s needs and interests. Children are able to engage with their learning through well-resourced, free-flow learning environments inside and outside the classroom which enable exploratory and child initiated play. Children participate in independent play activities, alongside more focused activities with adults, to practise specific skills.
We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Statutory Framework 2021 which sets standards for the learning, development and care of our pupils. The standards ensure pupils will learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. This includes promoting good oral health.
The EYFS framework outlines the seven areas of learning and development and educational programmes which inform our curriculum. There are three prime areas of learning, which are particularly important for your child’s development and future learning. They are:
1. Communication and Language
2. Physical Development
3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Communication and language underpins all areas of learning within our Early Years curriculum and continues to be developed within our provision, teaching, learning and planning methods. The prime areas are seen as particularly important for igniting curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building children’s capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. Planned learning supports the progress and development of listening and speaking, enabling children to process information into thinking and understanding. Children practise their physical skills alongside developing social skills, which supports greater independence and higher levels of confidence.
There are four specific areas of learning, through which the prime areas are strengthened and applied. They are:
6. Understanding the World
7. Expressive Arts and Design
The 4 specific areas of learning provide a context for development and reflect cultural knowledge and accumulated understanding. They are dependent on learning in the prime areas. Our continuous provision demonstrates a strong emphasis upon supporting children’s understanding of the world along with enabling them to express themselves imaginatively and creatively, using art and design. New learning and topics are adapted to reflect the needs and interests of the children throughout the year.
Interconnected with the 7 areas of learning are the Characteristics of Effective Learning and Teaching. These characteristics describe how children learn. They are:
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.
Four guiding principles shape our practice in Early Years. These are:
• Every child is a unique child;
•Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships;
• Children learn and develop well in enabling environments with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time;
• The importance of learning and development.
Assessment in the Early Years
Assessment is ongoing throughout the EYFS (Nursery and Reception).
From September 2021, all schools will be taking part in the statutory ‘Reception Baseline Assessments’ from the DfE which have to be completed within pupils’ first six weeks of starting school. The Reception baseline assessment (RBA) is a short and simple check of a child’s early literacy, communication, language and maths skills as they begin school. The assessments will form part of their daily activities and learning and will provide staff with a snapshot of where pupils are at when they enter reception, so they can be supported in the most appropriate way. Data from the assessment will only be used by the DfE when pupils have reached the end of Year 6, to provide the baseline to measure the progress of pupils’ year group from reception to Year 6. The data from the assessment, including numerical scores, is not shared with parents, pupils, teachers, or external bodies, including schools, and there will be no published scores at pupil, school or national level.
At the end of the EYFS, an Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is completed for each child. Pupils are assessed against 17 Early Learning Goals covering each area of learning and development. Judgements are based on ongoing observations and assessments carried out by the EYFS staff throughout the year. Pupils will be awarded one of these levels for each ELG;
Your child’s learning journey celebrates his/ her experiences at home and at school. Over time, it will tell a story about your child’s learning, friends and the activities he or she enjoys sharing with others. Staff at Westbourne watch and notice each child at play because it helps us to understand and support each individual’s well-being and development. We really get to know our pupils as unique people with special skills, interests and ideas. The more we understand about your special child, the better we can support them in the way that is right for them.
We welcome parents into school throughout the year so you can talk with your child about their learning journey. We also encourage you to contribute to it with family photographs or other things of significance for your child. We will regularly look through the learning journey with your child to remind them of all the happy times at school and to help them see how they are progressing and this provides a starting point for talk about shared memories.
We offer all families a home visit as part of our admission and transition to school processes. These visits enable children and families to meet the EYFS staff on home territory, allows information sharing to take place regarding children’s specific needs and interests, and supports the settling in process in a positive way. When home visits cannot be made, we offer virtual meetings with the EYFS staff.
Starting Nursery and Reception
The Nursery and Reception classes will be new environments for pupils who will need to adjust to the new people, experiences and changes in their normal routines. This can sometimes cause anxiety for you and your child. All children are individuals and may take some time to settle. We try to make the adjustments as easy as possible for everyone- this sometimes involves making arrangements for your child to settle at their own pace. We ask all families to work in partnership with us in this transition from home to school in the best possible way that meets your child’s needs.
Partnership with Parents
We welcome parents to be actively involved in their children’s learning in school and are able to share learning experiences through ‘Stay and Play’ sessions, soft starts, learning journeys, attending celebration afternoons and class assemblies and parent workshops. We recognise that parents are the first educators in children’s lives and value contributions to learning journeys and judgements about children’s development. We use this information to support our assessments and share information about what children need to do next to develop and thrive.
Our friendly and enthusiastic members of the EYFS team are constantly updating their knowledge and experience of the Early Years and are committed to making sure every child reaches his or her full potential by planning activities and experiences which are motivating, challenging, engaging and fun.