Early Years Foundation Stage
All that we do at St Joseph’s is shaped by commitment to our Faith. The choices we make and the expectations we nurture in our children emanate from a guiding desire to live our lives according to gospel values. In the words of our Mission Statement, written by the children:
- We are God’s family, here to learn and try our best.
- God is at the heart of everything. Prayer is behind us in all that we do.
- As friends of Jesus, we treat others with respect, as we would wish to be treated ourselves.
- We want everyone to be the best person they can be.
- We are all amazing in our own way.
- We look after the wonderful world that God created for us.
Our Mission Statement is reflected in our EYFS curriculum:
- We work and play well together and know that we belong to the Saint Joseph’s family.
- We show sensitivity to others’ needs.
- We try new activities, building resilience and being the best person we can be.
- We are amazing.
Our Vision for EYFS
Our children will flourish when immersed in our stimulating environment, which piques their interest and enthusiasm. Through a hybrid of direct teaching and child-initiated activity, we cohesively weave learning across the seven areas of the EYFS curriculum. We encourage our children to become learners, equipped with powerful knowledge and skills ready for their transition into year one.
Appointing high quality practitioners to the EYFS team is central to our success. Most of the assistants working with the classes have transferred from nursery settings and are therefore fully cognisant with the requirements of the Early Years framework. They have strong subject knowledge, they are passionate and inspiring to the children for whom they are responsible.
The Leader for EYFS is a member of the Senior Leadership Team and is also one of the school’s Designated Safeguarding Leads. She co-ordinates all information about children prior to starting, visiting nurseries and making contact with any parents of high need children.
Four central principles underpin our vision of Early Years Education:
- Support and nurture the unique child – your child - who is constantly learning and who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
- Establish positive relationships - our children will learn to develop strong, respectful and lasting relationships.
- Creating enabling environments which encourage a child’s development. The working relationship between home and school is fundamental to the learning process.
- Coherently planning for learning and development with a well-designed curriculum embedded.
Children will be offered a full and comprehensive learning programme designed across the seven statutory areas of development:
The mathematics curriculum is designed around the five counting principles providing the foundation for future learning.
Three prime areas which is particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving)
- communication and language
- physical development
- personal, social and emotional development
Four other focus areas which focus on strengthening and applying the prime areas:
- understanding the world
- expressive arts and design
At St Joseph’s, early language acquisition is prioritised. Powerful conversation and sustained shared thinking between adults and children provides children with essential tools of communication so critical for future learning.
High quality teaching of phonics will lead to strong reading and is an important aspect of our work. Reading is always of the highest priority; children progress through books which are carefully matched to phonics they have already secured.
We became Early Adopters of the new EYFS curriculum in 2020. We also were part of the trials for the new Reception Baseline Assessment.
The framework for learning in Reception
Learning in our Reception classes is packaged in themed units of work, which are designed to excite and engage the children:
How teachers embed knowledge and skills
Our EYFS team of teachers and teaching assistants cohesively plan and structure the daily learning, which is a seamless combination of:
- Adult direct teaching where the teacher or assistant directly teaches new skills and knowledge. This might be the whole class, small groups or one-to-one.
- Deliberate and planned practice where staff repeat learning over time through carefully planned activities. They intervene with children who need more practice; they extend children who are already fluent. Learning is scaffolded to allow for varying needs of learners, increasing fluency and independence.
- Child self-initiated activities – also called continuous provision - children often call these their ‘jobs’. Activities will have been set up on a daily basis, which a child moves between.
Language development is planned each day, whether this be phonics teaching, dialogue between staff and children or intervention programmes like Nuffield Early Language Development (NELI). Five staff are NELI trained across the school.
The quality of the Reception environment is excellent, inviting and motivating. Both classrooms open out onto the upper deck area and the lower outside extensive area. Learning opportunities are motivating and carefully designed to encourage development in all areas:
- classrooms – access to the interactive whiteboard, computers, reading zones, crafts, writing, maths etc
- upper deck – a stage for performance, a reading cabin, small world imaginative play, role play etc
- lower area – gross motor activities like construction, bikes, basketball. Mud kitchen, water and sand etc.
For personal and social development our Reception staff are ably supported by the Year Six Buddies.
Their contact with the new children begins in the summer when they write a letter to their new buddy.
Early in the term buddies come together to form their lasting relationship.
Staff are qualified in Paediatric First Aid. We have specific policies such as Intimate Care to manage the needs of our early learners.
As the year progresses, teachers ensure that children are well prepared for transition into year one and move towards more direct teaching of essential key knowledge and skills. Children take on more responsibility for managing themselves and their organisation.
The team work closely with the parents and carers, which ensures that a child enjoys the best that home and school can offer. Daily contact at the gate underpins the flow of communication.
Achieving Excellence in EYFS
Our Ofsted Report states, 'Children thrive from the start in Reception. The vibrant environment and thoughtfully structured curriculum ensure that children are extremely well-prepared to enter Year 1. Adults promote language development consistently by engaging children in conversations about learning.'
By the end of Reception, most children meet the national expectations, and we significantly exceed the national averages.
With high expectations for outcomes, our end of phase data tells us that our provision in EYFS is strong and effective.
At St. Joseph's in 2022, 82% of children achieved a Good Level of Development compared to 65% nationally. Our children are well-prepared for their next steps in education.
By the end of Reception, many children are reading fluently and are ready for the new learning in year one. By the end of September 2022, of last year’s cohort, a third of children had secured Phase 4 phonics and were already reading up to Blue level books.
The impact of the NELI language programme is clear. In 2021-2022, after just one term of input we demonstrated rapid progress. Since starting, five children in Reception had been introduced to 85 new words/vocabulary. Four of the children at the end of the first term knew 100% of the new vocabulary when tested; the fifth child knew 83 new words.
The experience in our EYFS setting has encouraged the development of children who are positive in their outlook to learning, resilient and proud. We observe children who are increasingly engaged with their learning, self-regulating in their behaviour and respectful in their relationships.
In summary, children in our Early Years classrooms have a wonderful start to their time in school.
There is further information on the Current Parents page of the website under Reception Class Information. There you will find out about the early days of starting school.