First Federation Trust
Early Years Foundation Stage At Blackpool
- Environment: At Blackpool C of E Primary School, we aim to provide a stimulating learning environment that promotes exploration, adventure, challenge and love of learning. Our SEND need is primarily communication and interaction and therefore our environment is supported with widget symbols and Makaton signing. We are transitioning to more natural resources and hessian boards to mute colours and where possible reduce sensory overload for our pupils.
- Outcomes: We aim to develop the whole child and have high aspirations for their learning in line with the ELG’s. We aim to support all children in making good progress against their starting point.
- Play is an integral part of learning and this is at the heart of our Early Years curriculum. We believe that the correct mix of adult directed and uninterrupted child-initiated play ensures the best outcomes for pupils.
- We aim for our children to be confident and independent, to believe in themselves and interact positively with others, which encompasses our school motto.
Only My Best Is Good Enough; Aspiring and Flourishing Together
These are important attributes that are fostered throughout our whole school Curriculum Threads: Values, Well-Being, Life-Long skills, Creativity, Communication and Connections, and My Place in the World.
Phonics and Early Reading
At Blackpool we teach phonics daily, each morning through the Read, Write, Inc Scheme of Work. This progressive phonics-based reading programme provides a structured and systematic approach to teaching reading, spelling and writing. We use it to match our children with phase of phonics that is most suitable to their individual needs and this is supported with sound books/reading books which explicitly match their stage. The progressive approach ensures pupils develop as fluent readers, confident speakers and willing, successful writers at the appropriate pace. Children are assessed each half term to ensure they are being taught at the correct stage for their phonic ability. Children who are making slower progress are highlighted as ‘spotlight children’, and they receive extra support and tuition. Parents are invited to attend a meeting at the beginning of the year explaining the scheme and the ‘Home Learning Journals’ that we use for home/school communication. These journals let parents know what sounds their child has learnt at school, for practice at home. They are also used as a reading record for parents to comment about home reading.
Whole class maths is taught daily using the NCETM Mastering Number programme, which is taught at Blackpool from Reception through to Year 2. It focuses on each child’s number sense, with the aim that by the end of KS1 each child will leave with fluency in calculation and a confidence and flexibility with number.
Concepts are also explored each week with opportunities in continuous provision activities and by incorporating number into routines and transition times.
Communication and Language
As part of our baseline we carry out a language assessment (Language Link) to check all children’s understanding of spoken language using the online SpeechLink website. From this, we communicate with parents to make referrals to SaLT if recommended from the results or set up support groups for children needing intervention in this area. We use the Language Link intervention programme, where children have up to 3 weekly sessions. Reassessment takes place 6 months later.
We also use SpeechLink to assess children we feel have speech production difficulties. We refer to SaLT if after the assessment highlights a significant need, or support in school with the available materials.
We teach 4 daily sessions where Communication, Language and Literacy (CLL) is our main focus. We have one text each week linked to our theme with progression through the sessions. We always start with a discussion about the book, making links and predictions. We then explore new vocabulary and its meaning. Where appropriate we explore the use of story maps to re-tell stories and develop a deep familiarity with the texts.
We explicitly teach concept vocabulary using the resource ‘Word Aware in the Early Years’. Where appropriate we link this vocabulary to current learning, developing this further by encouraging use of this new vocabulary in children’s play and day-to-day conversations.
Our Continuous provision covers all areas of the EYFS framework and is driven by our progressive skills planning, which ensures the resources and opportunities are focussed on meeting the needs, gaps and interests of our children. We aim to enhance it with open-ended resources that will encourage investigation, exploration and thinking as well as resources linked to children’s interests that will encourage engagement.
We value high quality play and opportunities for children to lead their learning with well-organised and open-ended opportunities. The Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning are used to discuss how children tackle new experiences and deal with challenges. We talk about the characteristics before they their approach their learning and also when reflecting on their decisions and interests.
Children have daily opportunities to develop their communication and language, personal, social and emotional development and physical development through carefully selected resources and play provision. These prime areas of the curriculum are developed and supported through language rich adult interaction, with the support and modelling to acquire, practice and correctly use a wide range of vocabulary.
Our Curricular goals use Educational Programmes as a basis and are designed to enable children to apply and demonstrate the skills they have learnt throughout the year, which have focused on play behaviours within a broad and balanced curriculum.
Curricular goals are developed through a blend of direct teaching, planning for skill progression and play behaviours in continuous provision, small group or 1:1 intervention where appropriate. While the EYFS team have a long-term knowledge of the direction of children’s learning, we do not stifle the value of following the interests and needs of the children by planning a whole year in advance. Regular reflection and observations inform planning, and we adapt provision accordingly to support and enhance children’s progress.
As part of the learning and teaching process, children are assessed in relation to their progress towards the Early Learning Goals throughout the year using ‘on track’ and ‘not on track’ judgements on SIMS. These judgements are made based on accumulative observations and in-depth knowledge of the children acquired through ongoing assessment. We value the professional knowledge and judgment of our teachers and support staff and give time for professional dialogue between senior and subject leaders throughout the year for information sharing and professional challenge. Ongoing assessments are used to inform skill planning, continuous provision and intervention planning for all children. Recording of children’s learning is flexible and purposeful, teachers make choices about how and what is recorded, following three key points:
- To show a wow moment or point of concern
- To enable planning of next steps
- To share with parents and carers
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together. There are opportunities for support and challenge during adult-directed group activities, as well as during continuous provision activities when adults work alongside our pupils.
Children who are not meeting their full potential in key areas will receive additional intervention with the view of closing any gaps as efficiently as possible. These children will become our ‘Notice and Focus’ children, and adults will be more aware of these children when engaging in continuous provision.
Pupils who have a specific Special Educational Need will have a bespoke Personal Learning Plan or an Educational Health Care Plan with targets aimed to specifically support their needs.
We understand the importance of parental engagement and believe that our parents have a crucial role to play in their children's education. We work hard to create strong partnerships between home and school. Parents receive newsletters each half term to inform them of what their child is learning and to explain how they can support this at home. In addition to this each child has a home learning journal. These journals keep parents up to date with sounds learnt in phonics, are used to record reading comments and can be used for any other communication from parents. Parents enjoy using Tapestry to engage in their child's learning and share experience from home.
Children’s outcomes can be seen in Tapestry learning journeys, photographic and video records, displays around the school and SIMs data towards the Early Years Foundation Stage objectives. Regular revisiting of knowledge, skills and concepts to aid long-term retention. Ongoing assessment and observations, including half termly phonics assessments, inform our planning and children’s next steps in learning, enabling us to complete the profile and to deliver a curriculum which is both stimulating and specific to the individual children’s needs. This enables us, as EYFS practitioners, to ensure learning is not only embedded but also retrievable, enabling children to master skills and concepts upon which to build as they move up through the school.
Teachers use a statutory baseline assessment, focused around Language, Communication and Literacy, as well as Mathematics in order to show progress during this phase of education in the Foundation Stage. Information gained from previous settings also helps to inform all of our children’s starting points and how these can be progressed effectively.
Learning and assessments are shared regularly with parents in order for them to see how their children are progressing in different areas.
Impact of our Early Years curriculum is also evident through our successful transition to Year one. EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELGs link to the national curriculum and through our whole school curriculum planning of all subjects, children leave EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey in the each of the foundation and core subjects.
Only My Best Is Good Enough; Aspiring and Flourishing Together