Early Years at St Mary's
"Play is the highest form of research."
The curriculum in early years is designed to offer a balanced education that meets the needs of all children, making the most of cross-curricular opportunities. All areas of learning are interlinked to the lessons and areas of provision to support children's holistic development.
At St Mary’s we support children’s personal, social and emotional development so that they feel safe and ready to learn. We are a family in which everyone is valued and respected, our aim is that children become responsible, caring members of the community. We understand that children attending our school have had varied experiences, and the team work hard to ensure learning opportunities provided widen their knowledge and understanding of the world. Children are encouraged to be independent and creative in their play and have opportunities to practise and deepen their understanding of taught skills. Thus creating ambitious expectations for all children.
Early years outcomes are used as a guide for planning in the seven areas of learning;
Personal Social and Emotional Development
Communication and Language
Exploring Media and Materials
Understanding the World
At St Mary’s we facilitate a combination of child initiated and adult led learning using continuous provision and focussed group activities. Lessons are planned sequentially to build on prior learning through themes that are accessible to all, and that are planned to engage children’s interests throughout. Formal lessons are followed by play opportunities to allow children time to independently master taught skills. The Early Years classroom is a shared unit for F1 and F2 children, although the children are separate for teaching inputs they have access to all of the continuous provision areas. Focussed groups are implemented in accordance to the child’s individual needs and abilities.
Religious Education is a large part of our timetable too, teachers use the Come and See Programme as the main resource to plan and prepare for the lessons but these are adapted to meet the children’s individual RE needs.
We follow the Maths Mastery approach and use the sequential lessons provided, adapting the speed and depth of lessons to meet our children’s unique abilities and next steps. There is an emphasis on key skills of number, calculation and shape so that children develop a deep understanding of mathematical concept and language. Children learn through games and activities that use concrete manipulatives to fully embed the mathematical concepts, these are then used independently during continuous provision time.
At St Mary’s we use in the moment observations and regular summative assessments to ensure that the learning is accessible for all children. Gaps in learning and next steps are identified during live marking and summative assessments, these are planned for and implemented in to the next appropriate lesson, as well as, interventions and continuous provision areas.
Children’s characteristics of learning are identified through play opportunities and observations. Lessons are planned to offer a range of experiences for each learning style and continuous provision areas have opportunities for all learner styles to access. The characteristics of effective learning are:
Playing and exploring – engagement
Active learning – motivation
Creating and thinking critically – thinking
Our curriculum has to meet the needs of all children, including those with SENDs, therefore we take our time to evaluate how all children are learning. As a team we spend time with the children, observing their learning experiences, looking at their work and analysing their progress. Teachers use observations to make formative assessments that inform planning and ensure that children build on prior skills and knowledge. Staff use an online tool that builds a learning journey of each child, this tool allows teachers to produce summative assessments used to identify gaps in learning and inform interventions. At the end of the Foundation Stage children are assessed against the 17 early learning goals as teachers complete the early years foundation stage profile. The impact of our intent and implementation is also measured by how children show their respect to others and become responsible, resilient members of the school ready for key stage one.