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At Whitehall Park School we follow the national EYFS Framework. The vast majority of both state and private schools follow the EYFS Curriculum which includes the four guiding principles and seven areas of learning described in our Teaching and Learning in EYFS section. The values which underpin all provision are grouped into four guiding principles which form the context for the seven areas of learning. These are carefully planned for by teachers and form our EYFS curriculum. At Whitehall Park School we follow the principles of the EYFS while extending and enriching the curriculum to best suit our children.
Four Guiding Principles
A Unique Child
At Whitehall Park we recognise that each child is an individual learner. We encourage children to become capable, resilient, confident and self-assured by ensuring each individual is valued for their unique character, abilities, interests and cultural heritage.
We believe that every area of children’s development is equally important and provide an environment where children’s needs and interests are central. We take into account children’s range of life experiences when planning for their learning. By working closely with parents and families, we aim to provide a safe environment where children feel secure and are able to trust that an adult is available to meet their needs and support their development, whether at home or school. Children’s health impacts enormously on their emotional, mental, social, environmental and spiritual well-being. We encourage children to develop healthy practices and support their independence.
Each child in the EYFS at Whitehall Park School has key staff members who will respectfully acknowledges and support their learning, needs and feelings, and those of their family. Usually, the key staff members for children are their class teacher and learning support assistant (LSA). This helps us provide an environment so that children learn to be strong and independent through the formation of secure, warm and trusting relationships with each unique child and their family.
At Whitehall Park School we believe that stimulating and safe indoor and outdoor learning environments which encourage children’s independence are central to their learning and development. We observe children in order to tune into their interests, needs and abilities and use these to underpin our planning. A rich and varied environment is carefully planned to ensure all children learn and develop well, are engaged and making progress at their own pace. Children develop the confidence to explore in the safe, yet challenging environment that Whitehall Park School offers. We believe that working as a team with external agencies and professionals is essential and benefits the children significantly. There will be a strong partnership between staff and parents and carers.
Development and Learning
The EYFS curriculum is made up of seven areas of learning and development. At Whitehall Park School we plan for each of the seven areas and are committed to supporting each individual child, including children with special educational needs and disabilities, to learn through play and exploration as well as by setting appropriate tasks to challenge each child in their learning journey. We encourage creative and critical thinking by making sure a wide range of resources is available to the children and that links are made between the areas of learning so children are able to transfer and generalise their knowledge and skills.
Children at this stage are constructing a framework for learning and life. They are acquiring key attitudes to learning and exploring learning processes, as well as acquiring a core of knowledge and a grasp of language. Initially information given by parents, then by our own observations, informs our planning of the learning environment to stimulate and motivate each child to progress at his/her own pace.
Our curriculum is child‐centred, focused upon the development of the individual child, socially, emotionally, physically, aesthetically, morally and cognitively. We recognise that the needs of our young children are such that it is not possible to separate their need for learning experiences from their need for care and emotional support.
Children learn through their senses and through powerful interaction with their environment. There is a strong focus on play‐based and outdoor learning together with a combination of structured play, first‐hand experience and some directed teaching. The development of the whole child is considered crucial. As such, our curriculum caters for the whole child. Children are provided with a range of rich, meaningful first-hand experiences in which children explore, think creatively and are active. We aim to develop and foster positive attitudes towards learning, confidence, communication and physical development.
As a team, we write long-term and medium-term plans using the EYFS based on a series of topics each of which offers experiences in all seven areas. Each term, we plan to have an overarching theme that provides opportunities for the child to engage in all prime and core aspects of learning. Within each half term, we will focus more closely on specific themes drawn from the world around them that interest and stimulate the children. Within each theme, we have carefully chosen a range of books that will lead the learning and of these we will focus particularly on three books, using these as the stimulus and thread for all aspects of learning, be that literacy, mathematics, art, design or understanding the world.
Each of the three stimulus books is used to develop the children’s skills through a technique devised by Pie Corbett and known as “Talk for Writing”. This powerful technique is an excellent method for teaching the key literacy skills associated with speaking and listening, reading and writing. This is very much a personalised writing curriculum using a range of multi-sensual and varied learning styles in order to link quality talk with quality writing. The children will learn and rehearse oral stories in order to build their own confidence in storytelling, structure and adaptations or extensions.
Reading, phonics and writing at Whitehall Park School is taught using a clear teaching sequence which can be applied to any of the key texts chosen by the teachers and children which best suits the needs and interests of the cohort. The sequence is as follows:
- Familiarisation with the text – opportunity to explore children’s personal and collective responses and opportunities to rehearse their ideas with partners, in small groups or as a class.
- Capturing ideas – oral rehearsal using actions and drama to support reading. Creating story maps, pictures, mind maps and resources to help to re-tell the story.
- Teacher demonstration – showing children how to create words from letters using phonics knowledge to make plausible attempts at more complex words and using blending to attempt high frequency and more common words.
- Teacher modelled writing – articulation of the thinking and creative processes involved in writing. Guided writing groups will follow a whole class input.
- Independent writing. Children have a go at writing stories, or parts of stories that they know well. Some children may innovate and change the story to incorporate settings or characters that they know, for example The Three Little Pigs could become The Three Little Teddy Bears.
Through engaging children in a key text based on the current topic, children are motivated and enthused and a thematic approach to the curriculum can be achieved. They learn key phrases or be able to retell the stories using actions or their own words. Eventually, they will be able to adapt the stories they know to retell or write their own.
We have found Talk for Writing to be such a powerful tool for developing many aspects of a child’s learning and experiences. There are endless possibilities for each of the different texts that we intend to use. All of the discrete aspects of learning will also be taught carefully and precisely using key strategies from across a range of different theories and practises. For example, we will be drawing upon elements of the highly successful Ruth Miskin Read Write Inc programme alongside Letters and Sounds to develop children’s cooperative learning and phonics skills and utilising key strategies from Singapore Maths where the children utilise concrete, pictorial and abstract methods to understand and apply mathematical knowledge and skills.
We will be providing detailed guides for parents for each aspect of the curriculum, but we hope that this has given you a flavour of what to expect for your child in Reception at Whitehall Park School.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Learning and teaching” tab_id=”1475140799298-7ecf02d8-55bf”][vc_column_text]
Learning and teaching in the Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS)
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the statutory standards that all early years providers must meet. It aims to provide
- Quality and consistency in all early years settings
- A secure foundation that will allow all children good progress through school and life
- Partnerships between different practitioners
- Partnerships between parents or carers and practitioners
- Equality of opportunity for all children
The EYFS is a framework for children’s development from birth to the end of the Reception year of primary school. At Whitehall Park School, in partnership with parents and carers, we utilise the recommendations within the EYFS framework in order to create effective, safe yet exciting provision that enables our children to begin the process of becoming active learners for life.
The EYFS is a very important stage in your child’s life as it helps them prepare for their future learning and successes. From when your child is born up until the age of five, their early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs. The early years are critical in children’s development. Children develop rapidly during this time – physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. The EYFS Framework explains how and what your child will be learning to support their healthy development.
At Whitehall Park School we provide children in our Reception classes with a broad, balanced, purposeful curriculum in order for them to flourish and succeed. We strongly believe that every child is an individual, and that it is the child’s individual needs, preferred learning styles and interests that enable us to plan a relevant, stimulating, exciting curriculum.
At Whitehall Park, we focus our learning experiences with EYFS on the following core beliefs:-
- Learning is a partnership between children, families and school. At Whitehall Park School we actively encourage involvement to promote shared understanding and experience between home and school.
- Every child is unique and special. Therefore, observation, assessment and evaluation of children’s needs, ability and preferences are key as this enables teachers to plan precisely, enabling each child to make accelerated progress in all aspects of their learning and development.
- High expectations sit at the core of all we believe. Through precision assessment, planning and teaching every child will excel.
- Teaching and learning opportunities should recognise that Early Years is a distinctive phase of education requiring specialist teaching to a developmentally appropriate curriculum.
- Exploration gives children the opportunity to learn about themselves and the world they live in. Children learn by doing, rather than being told. Active learning is a fundamental principle that underpins the curriculum throughout the primary school.
- Children learn most effectively through active participation within a familiar context; in a safe secure stimulating environment; where they are motivated and interested and where they feel confident in themselves and their own abilities. The environment and learning tools we provide, both indoors and out, will enable children to learn, flourish, grow and so fulfil their potential.
- Children need to be encouraged to be independent and autonomous in their learning, to think in a positive way about themselves so that they feel respected as individuals, whose cultures and language are valued.
- All adults are positive role models; giving confidence and offering choices, aware of when to support learning and when to teach, in ensuring quality learning experiences for all children.
- Children need time and space to produce learning of quality and depth. Appropriate planning, evaluation, resourcing, organisation and management enables them to have this time and space.
- Children grow and develop at different rates. We need to identify and promote children’s individual abilities and strengths, offering children opportunities and challenges to experiment and succeed.
- Children do not separate their learning into subject areas but learn from everything that happens to them. The thematic curriculum takes account of the uniqueness of each child and focuses on celebrating what they can do and plans for further development.
How we teach in EYFS:
The EYFS curriculum needs to be planned to meet the needs of individual pupils, building on and valuing previous experiences that include those of the home culture and community, ensuring equal access to all aspects of the curriculum for all children.
There are seven areas of learning and development that make up our educational programmes in the early years. All areas of learning and development 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.
- communication and language
- physical development
- personal, social and emotional development
We also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied.
The specific areas are:
- understanding the world
- expressive arts and design
Our educational opportunities for children involve activities and experiences for children in all areas of the curriculum to ensure they have the breadth and balance of learning and can make links and so sense of the world around them:-
- Communication and language development provides children with a range of opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
- Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
- Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.
- Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (ditties, books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest and instil in them a joy of reading. Writing stems from speaking and listening opportunities and from experiences that children have had with texts and visual literacy. Children will begin to write and express their ideas through narrative and non-fiction writing.
- Mathematics provides children with opportunities to develop, improve and link their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers. Children will use concrete and pictorial representation, as well as numerical equations to learn how to undertake simple addition and subtraction calculations in a wide range of contexts. Children will learn how to describe and categorise shapes and will begin to understand key aspects related to spaces and measures.
- Understanding the world is a key aspect of the curriculum and offers one of the main drivers for our themed curriculum. This area helps children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
- Expressive arts and design enables children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.
The importance of different learning vehicles:
At Whitehall Park School we employ a range of different teaching techniques that enable children to experience all aspects of the prime and core areas of learning. We believe that there should be a balance between child-initiated and adult-led learning; this ensures that there are opportunities for both purposeful learning and the discrete teaching and application of skills, as well as opportunities for children to explore, create and play. We acknowledge the central role of child-initiated learning in the education of the young child and we ensure that provision for learning through play forms part of our daily experiences. For specific aspects of learning, we believe that adult-led activities, small group work, paired learning and whole class learning offers children the opportunity to develop and enhance their understanding, knowledge and skills.
The Learning Environment
At Whitehall Park School we recognise the importance of providing a stimulating, interesting, welcoming, safe and challenging learning environment. All rooms are organised and resourced to provide learning opportunities in the seven areas of learning in the EYFS curriculum. Children are taught how to access the equipment in each area of provision independently from the moment they are able, to enable them to follow their own ideas and interests.
At Whitehall Park School the EYFS classrooms is organised to allow children to explore and learn securely and safely. Each class creates opportunities where the children can be active or be quiet and rest. The classroom provides a wide range of different learning areas:
- Reading corner – books, audio texts, print, comics, magazines available
- Mark making/graphics area/Writing area
- Art and craft workshop
- Sand/water/exploratory play areas
- Music/movement areas
- Dramatic play – role play areas/home-corner
- Construction and technological play area
- Discovery area – key focus on understanding the world
- Maths/number areas
- Cosy area
- Snack area
- Reflection and calm areas
These areas enable children to learn in a mixture of adult and child initiated activities. We aim to teach our children to find and use equipment and resources independently. All areas and equipment will be labelled with print and icons to match. We plan activities and resources for the children to access indoors that help the children to develop in all areas of learning.
At Whitehall Park Primary, we believe in the importance of outdoor learning opportunities. The EYFS department has its own enclosed outdoor learning area, as well as outdoor play spaces and gardens. Being outdoors offers the children different opportunities to explore, use their senses and be physically active and exuberant. Children have access to the outdoors for most of the day. Practitioners outdoors will be observing, participating and extending in children’s learning and providing some adult-led activities.
- All areas of learning as provided indoors
- Cycling-wheeled toys
- Climbing/balancing/jumping equipment
- Large scale sand and water play
- Dramatic play
- Large block play
- Reading (including environmental print)
- Problem Solving and Numeracy
Assessment for Learning is at the heart of all we do at Whitehall Park Primary school. This means that assessment takes place all the time. The everyday process of teaching and learning necessitates ongoing assessment for learning, as teachers check on the children’s skills, knowledge and understanding throughout sessions. All classes in the EYFS follow the observe, assess and plan cycle: daily, weekly and half-termly.
Every child has an individual Profile Book which includes observations and information from both staff and parents that record the child’s journey and progress through the foundation stage.
Profile Books contain:
- Long Observations
- Short Observations
- Pieces of learning and photographs of learning – all with captions and explanations
- Comments from children and families
- Termly reviews, assessments and next steps
We recognise the importance of the role that all early years educators play in the care and education of our youngest children. These roles include:
- Building relationships. Getting to know all of our children and families
- Key working small groups of children
- Observing children to identify their wellbeing and involvement, their needs, strengths, schemas and interests
- Planning for next steps in learning
- Supporting and extending child-initiated activities
- Engaging children in focused activity
- Maintaining and developing a stimulating, welcoming safe and challenging learning environment
- Working as a team to ensure that all children reach their full potential