Early Years

Intent

At St Francis of Assisi CE Primary School, we believe that all children deserve an education rich in wonder and memorable experiences that allows children’s natural creativity and curiosity to flourish, alongside the purposeful acquisition of skills and knowledge.

It is our aim to build:

  • Strong resilient children: who challenge themselves physically, emotionally and mentally. Children need opportunities to problem solve and experiment with taking risks to challenge themselves. They need time to practice new skills and develop their bodies.
  • Resourceful children:who show initiative, ask well thought out questions and are prepared to use a variety of strategies to learn.
  • Reflective children:who are curious, able and willing to learn from their mistakes and can describe their progress.
  • Reciprocal children: who are prepared to help each other and work as a team.

We have enabling environments both indoors and outside. The principle is that resources are accessible to the children and they are varied, open-ended and high quality. Where possible, we try to provide authentic resources and loose parts; treasures that capture children’s imagination and resources that offer value to play, providing children with an enabling environment full of interesting objects that support creativity and invention. This develops opportunities for creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, counting and sorting…

Our aim is to teach children how to think not what to think – providing a world of magic and wonder – a place to tinker and explore and a place where children are at the centre of everything filling their hearts and minds with a sense of awe and wonder.

Whether it be a classroom with a sky or a classroom with a roof, each area in our EYFS is equally important and provides children with plentiful experiences and pockets of learning which gently invite them to come and play, enabling all the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ to be explored   (Playing and Exploring, Learning Actively, Creating and Thinking Critically).

Implementation

At St Francis of Assisi CE Primary School, we aim to develop a thirst and love for learning. In both Nursery and Reception, our “teaching” is delivered through ‘in the moment planning’ where teachable moments are discovered through the child’s play. This unique way allows us to develop each child at their own individual pace working with their interests. It is all about capturing the moment of engagement and running with it to make sure the children progress. When children show high levels of involvement, that is when there the most progress and development occur – when the brain is at its most active.  High level involvement is the most frequent when children are able to pursue their own interests in an enabling environment supported by skilled staff. The adults are there to facilitate and scaffold learning; finding moments when they can use sustained shared thinking to encourage the children to become thinkers and problem solvers without having the answers fed to them. The spontaneity of the planning also enables us to keep enriched by what the children “see” and are fascinated by . . . Who can say what a child wants to explore tomorrow or even in the next five minutes?. . It’s an exciting journey to share with them!

We believe in the style of teaching because:

“Babies and young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week. It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference. By using this cycle on a moment-by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child’s thinking (assessment), and always ready to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children’s well-being and learning (planning for the next moment).”

From National Strategies document “Learning, Playing and Interacting” (Page 22 – 23)

Impact

The cycle of observation, assessment, planning, observation is carried out on a moment-by-moment basis.   Assessment for our children, whether they are a focus child for that week or whether a ‘WOW’ moment is recorded, happens ‘in the moment’.  Next steps (teachable moments) are taught there and then and the adult’s input (teaching) is highlighted in yellow: – “T suggests … encourages …models …ponders …models …helps …  offers resources … etc.” This is then tracked using our STEPS tracker ensuring rates of progress are at least good for all children, including vulnerable groups such as those with SEND, disadvantaged or summer born children. Our assessment judgements have been moderated both in school and externally with local schools and others in our Trust. We also partake in Local Authority moderation which has validated our school judgements

An integral aspect of our EYFS curriculum is that children are prepared for the future – during their time in the school, they become fantastic role models and the very best version of themselves. Their individual identity is valued, and our children are kind and caring while also aspiring to be the best that they can be in whatever area they choose to pursue. We believe that every child is unique – they all have the potential to achieve. Within our EYFS, we support our children to be lifelong learners by providing firm foundations. Ensuring children are

  • Happy, secure & confident
  • Independent
  • Risk takers
  • Social
  • Resilient
  • Thinkers
  • Doers
  • Curious
  • Self-motivated
  • Observant
  • Inquisitive

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.