Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) applies to the learning and development of all children from birth to the end of the reception year. At Lower Peover CE Primary School we greatly value the important role that the Early Years Foundation Stage plays in laying secure foundations for future learning and development. Early childhood is the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. It is not just a preparation for the next stage but is vitally important in itself.
Learning for children is a rewarding and enjoyable experience in which they explore, investigate, discover, create, practice, rehearse, repeat, revise and consolidate their developing knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes. During the Foundation Stage, many of these aspects of learning are brought together effectively through playing and talking.
At Lower Peover CE Primary School we aim to provide the highest quality care and education for all our children thereby giving them a strong foundation for their future learning. We create a safe and happy environment with motivating and enjoyable learning experiences that enable children to become confident and independent learners. We value the individual child and work alongside parents and carers to help every child reach their full potential.
As outlined in the ‘Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage’:
‘Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child's experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances.’
Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage
We adhere to the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage 2023 document (Department for Education, 2023) and the guiding principles that shape practice within Early Years settings:
The EYFS is based upon four principles:
- Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured;
- Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships;
- Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents/ carers;
- Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.
As part of our practice we:
- Provide a safe, challenging, stimulating, caring and sharing environment which is sensitive to the needs of the child, including children with additional needs;
- Provide a broad, balanced, relevant and coherently sequenced curriculum, using play as the vehicle for learning;
- Promote equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice;
- Provide early intervention for those children who require additional support;
- Enable choice and decision-making, fostering independence and self confidence;
- Use and value what each child can do, assessing their individual needs and helping each child to progress;
- Plan challenging learning experiences, based on the individual child, informed by observation and assessment and by the children’s own ideas and interests;
- Work in partnership with parents and carer and value their contributions;
- Ensure that all children, irrespective of ethnicity, culture, religion, home, language, family background, learning difficulties, disabilities, gender or ability, have the opportunity to experience a challenging and enjoyable programme of learning and development.
We plan an exciting and challenging curriculum based on our observation of children’s needs, interests and stages of child development across the seven areas of learning and development to enable the children to achieve the Early Learning Goals. All seven areas are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.
These three areas are the Prime Areas of Learning:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social & Emotional Development
We also support the children in four Specific Areas of Learning, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
Learning through play underpins our approach to teaching and learning in the Foundation Stage. We embrace the fact that young children learn best from activities and experiences that interest and inspire them to learn. In doing so, we can provide children with stimulating, active play experiences in which they can explore and develop their learning and to help them make sense of the world. Children have opportunities through their play to think creatively and critically alongside other children as well as on their own. They are able to practise skills, build upon and revisit prior learning and experiences at their own level and pace. Play gives our children the opportunity to pursue their own interests, inspire those around them and consolidate their understanding and skills. The children learn to adapt, negotiate, communicate, discuss, investigate and ask questions. Our adults take an active role in child initiated play through observing, modelling, facilitating, teaching and extending play, skills and language.
Characteristics of Effective Learning
In planning, guiding and facilitating the children’s learning activities, we continually reflect on the different ways children learn. The characteristics of effective teaching and learning highlight the importance of a child’s attitude to learning and their ability to play, explore and think critically about the world around them.
The characteristics 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.
Children are provided with a range of rich, meaningful first-hand experiences in which they can explore, think creatively and be active. We aim to develop and foster positive attitudes towards learning, confidence, communication and physical development.
Good planning is the key to making children’s learning effective, exciting, varied and progressive. Effective learning builds on and extends what children know and can do. It draws upon secure knowledge of child development and is always informed by observations we have made of the children, in order to understand and consider their current interests, development and learning. All practitioners who work in reception are involved in this process.
We create loose long and medium term plans based on a series of topics, each of which offers experiences in all seven areas of learning. Throughout each topic the children are encouraged to share their ideas for learning experiences with us. These ideas are then used to inform our short term weekly planning, alongside our observations which identify areas to focus on. We always remain flexible to allow for unplanned circumstances and children’s responses. Children will engage in whole group and small group activities alongside their independent learning.
The curriculum is delivered using a play-based approach as outlined by the EYFS framework: ‘Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities’.
We plan a balance between children having time and space to engage in their own child-initiated activities and those which are planned by adults. During children’s play, the adults in class interact when appropriate to facilitate learning and skill development, or to stretch and challenge them further. In planning and guiding children's activities, we reflect as practitioners on the different ways that children learn and build these into our practice. We create a stimulating learning environment to encourage children to free-flow between inside and outdoors.
Observations & Assessment
All practitioners who interact with the child contribute to the assessment process. Assessments inform everyday planning and are based on on-going observational assessment of each child’s achievements, interests and learning styles. On-going assessments may take the form of anecdotal observations, focused observations, examples of work, photographs, and information from parents.
On entry to the Foundation Stage all children are assessed. Assessments are collected through observations and directed tasks which are used to plan next steps for individual and groups of children. Further termly assessments are used to track both individual progress, class progress and the progress of vulnerable groups. In addition, we carry out the statutory Reception Baseline Assessment within the first 6 weeks of the term.
At the end of the year, the EYFS profile provides a summary of every child’s development and learning achievements including whether they have reached a ‘Good Level of Development’ (GLD). Children are assessed against the Early Learning Goals (ELG) by the class teacher - who uses the exemplification documents, and their knowledge of the children to make a ‘best fit’ judgement. This profile data is the statutory data that is sent to the Local Authority and used to help school benchmark and identify improvements.
For more informationabout our school's EYFS outcomes, click here.