Our curriculum follows the Early Years Statutory Framework for the Early years Foundation Stage, updated in September 2021. This document specifies the requirements for learning and development in the EYFS and provides the prime and specific areas of learning we must cover in our curriculum. Through our knowledge of each child and formative assessments the EYFS team plan exciting and engaging activities that will move the children’s learning forward. This may involve following a class theme where we take advantage of cross-curricular links in order to combine transferable skills and develop a wide-ranging vocabulary which underpins the children’s learning. This may also include following individual children’s interests and making the most of those focused moments where the teaching and learning can be maximised in a one to one way with teacher and child. Each year creates its own unique blend of whole class, guided, adult directed play and child-initiated play activities dependent on the nature and needs of the class of individuals. We look forward at the start of each new year to see where the class will lead us.
Children in EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active and thinking critically and creatively and this takes place both indoors and in our outdoor area. Our outdoor area is open all year round and in all but the most challenging weather conditions. Children make their own decisions about where they learn best and staff ensure that there are opportunities for learning both inside and outside.
We follow the Read, Write Inc. phonic programme, using a wide range of physical and online resources to support this. Every child has access to a phonics session daily with intervention opportunities for those who find this area of learning more difficult. We use the phonics tasks to develop children’s expertise in handwriting as an integral part of the programme. We provide effective and focused intervention for those children who are finding learning challenging and are not on track to meet expectations at the end of the year. This is provided in an inclusive way and support from parents is enlisted at an early stage to ensure that the children have every chance to achieve the Early Learning Goals.
The EYFS team collect evidence of children’s learning through work completed in their books, observations, photos and videos which are shared with parents using the Tapestry online system. This means that parents can engage with children regularly about their learning and can contribute to the knowledge we have of the child in school. Parents are encouraged to use Tapestry to record the milestones children make at home during the year.
We go out into the local environment on a regular basis to enhance the children's learning. We have access to a conservation area that belongs to the school and we also enjoy visiting the viaduct which is a local landmark. We also try to bring visitors in to give the children a breadth of learning, with examples ranging from drama companies and dance workshops to science based workshops.
We are a small tightly knit school and the staff work together to ensure a smooth transition which is helped by the fact that children get to know their new teacher well and are reassured that they still have access to Early Years staff for as long as they need it. The staff team in Year R are committed to ensuring that children are immersed in a kind, caring and happy environment which helps them develop the same characteristics in their journey through school. Helmdon Primary School is a positive place to be where resilience, perseverance and successes are celebrated and every child feels valued and respected.
The impact of the EYFS curriculum is reflected in having well rounded, happy and confident children transitioning into Year 1 and beyond. As they progress through Helmdon our children provide positive role models for the younger members of the school.
We measure progress and children’s learning across the year through formative and summative assessment which are based on the teacher’s knowledge of the child, their recorded work, photographs and videos on Tapestry. We aim to exceed the National and Local Authority data for children achieving Good Level of Development. Almost all our children make more than the expected steps progress from their starting points.
The judgements of our school are moderated with other schools to ensure they are secure and consistent with government guidelines. The Early Years provision features in all areas of the School Development Plan and has a rigorous plan for development each year. This is monitored and evaluated by the EYFS Lead, the Head teacher and designated governor.