Dania School – Scandinavian Learning in The Heart of London
Early Years Foundation Stage Policy
- To give each child a happy, positive and fun start to their school life in which they can establish solid foundations on which to expand and foster a deep love of learning;
- To offer each child a wide range of new and exciting experiences and give them the opportunity to consolidate, explore and test them out along with their own, individual experiences;
- To enable each child, through encouragement and high expectations, to develop, to the full, socially, physically, intellectually and emotionally.
- To offer a structure for learning that has a range of starting points and unlimited opportunity for development;
- To encourage children to develop independence within a loving, secure and friendly atmosphere;
- To support children in building relationships through the development of social skills such as cooperation and sharing;
- To help each child to recognise their own strengths and achievements through experiencing success and developing the confidence to work towards personal goals.
The Preschool and Reception classes follow the curriculum as outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) document, which is available from the school office or to download at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/299391 /DFE-00337-2014.pdf. This clearly defines what we teach. The following policy details the specifics of our setting.
The EYFS framework includes seven areas of learning and development, all of which are seen as important and interconnected but three areas are seen as particularly important for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, for building their capacity to learn and form relationships and thrive (DfE 2014: 1.3), they support children’s learning in all other areas, they are known as the prime areas.
The prime areas are;
- Communication and Language – Listening and Attention, Understanding and Speaking
- Physical Development – Moving and Handling and Self care
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development – Making relationships, Managing feelings and behaviour and Self-confidence and Self-awareness
- The specific areas of learning develop essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society. The specific areas are;
- Literacy – Reading and Writing
- Mathematics – Numbers and Space, Shape and Measures
- Understanding the World – People and communities, The world and Technology
- Expressive Arts and Design – Exploring and using media and materials and Being Imaginative
Characteristics of Effective Learning
The EYFS also includes the characteristics of effective teaching and learning. The Preschool and Reception teachers plan activities within the Preschool and Reception classrooms with these in mind. They 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 three 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.
We ensure there is a balance of adult led and child initiated activities across the day. Although much of the time is spent with children self-selecting tasks, the interaction between the adult and child is essential as the adult’s response to children builds understanding and therefore guides new learning. The adult’s role is to continually model, demonstrate and question what the child is doing. In some cases, the adult will ask a child to come and complete a task or game with them; at other times they will participate in a child’s game, extending it where possible.
By the Summer term in Reception the children will experience many more adult directed tasks as they prepare for their transition to year 1.
Learning through play is an important part of our Early Years classrooms. We believe children learn best from activities and experiences that interest and inspire them. Using children’s interests as a starting point, we provide children with stimulating, active play experiences in which they can explore and develop their learning to help them make sense of the world. They 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 experience at their own level and pace. Play gives our children the opportunity to pursue their own interests and inspire those around them. The children learn to adapt, negotiate, communicate, discuss, investigate and ask questions. We believe it is important that adults take an active role in child initiated play through observing, modelling, facilitating and extending their play. Getting the balance right between child initiated play, which is controlled, and adult led activities is very important to us.
We include direct, carefully planned, adult led experiences for children in the form of structured adult led teaching and adult led group activities. These are particularly important in helping children to learn specific skills and knowledge and it is often through children’s play that we see how much of this learning children have understood and taken on.
Each day we follow a timetable with set routines in place. This looks quite different in the Nursery and Reception classes. We set aside times each day when the children come together to be taught in the more traditional sense, gathered together on the carpet as a class. In these slots we focus on our topic work, maths, literacy, Danish,phonics, and stories. These sessions help to develop vital habits of learning: learning as a group, listening to the teacher, taking turns to answer, sitting still etc…
Reading and story play an important part of the day. We want to make sure our children have a love of books and will leave the EYFS with a bank of stories they know well, both traditional and modern classics. We make sure there is always time for whole class story at the end of the day but also that there are many opportunities to enjoy books at other times. Every child is given their own book bag and has a designated day when they will have one-to-one time sharing books with an adult (although it is fine for others to listen too!) or, in Reception, a group reading session.
We believe many children need to be given a starting point to learn new things and find topics are a great way to fire the imagination. We have a yearly topic cycle and topics are usually based on the following areas of learning, ‘Understanding the World’, ‘Literacy’ and ‘Communication and Language’; The topics are flexible to ensure we also follow the children’s interests, school themes and local or national events e.g. the Olympics. Every half term (and occasionally termly) staff plan the next topic, and book visits and visitors that will enhance the learning.
Staff plan in more detail on a weekly basis using daily notes, observations and interactions with children to inform where the learning journey should move to. Weekly plans are available for parents in the classroom and are summarised in the monthly school newsletter. Class teachers are responsible for planning, but will work on this with students and other visitors.
Visits and visitors
The part that visits and visitors play in the curriculum at Dania is given great emphasis, even in the Early Years. We aim to build up to three visits in the Summer Term; these can range from a visit to the local City Farm to travelling all the way to Legoland! We actively seek parental support on trips, aiming for a ratio of one adult for two children in Preschool and a minimum of 1:4 in Reception. For safety reasons we say no to younger siblings coming along on school trips.
Visitors also really enhance a topic and we like to have ‘experts’ coming in to talk to the children, a doctor for example. We often ask parents if they are able (and brave enough!) to share knowledge or a skill.
Our Early Years classrooms have defined areas with clearly labelled resources to ensure children can access them easily. Each classroom is set up in a way to provide children with experiences and activities in all of the seven areas of learning. Classrooms have a writing area, maths area, creative area, book corner, role play area, construction/small world area, outdoor area and carpeted teaching area. A variety of activities are planned for and set up in the different areas each day. The adults move to whichever area their focus for the session/day is.
The outdoor area is an important part of the classroom with many children choosing to learn outside for much of the day. We try to ensure that the range of activities outside reflects the different curriculum areas, for example setting up quiet spaces for a maths game, reading and for construction. Physical activity often dominates, with climbing, running and other active games being key.
Each child has their own labelled peg and box in the cloakroom. We encourage children to take responsibility for keeping their clothes, book bag and work safely in one place!
Assessment, observations and portfolios
Assessment is an essential part of the learning and development of children in the EYFS. It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations.
To ensure we have evidence of a child’s progress in the EYFS we use a range of strategies all of which come together in their individual portfolio. We are very proud of our portfolios: these are collections of children’s work, photos and observations which create a detailed picture of the child. Where appropriate, we include individual next steps for children’s learning. These next steps are discussed by the EYFS team in informal meetings after school each day and in the weekly planning meetings, these next steps inform planning for the next day and week ahead. Staff have their own iPad which is used to capture and note observations and next steps for learning.
The portfolio is given to parents when their child enters Year 1 or leaves our setting and they also receive a report using the online EYFS tracker.
On entry to Preschool we carry out baseline assessments for each child. Throughout the Early Years the Class Teacher submits end of term assessment data to the Head Teacher showing each child’s development across the seven areas of learning. At the end of Reception the class teacher assesses each child against the 17 Early Learning Goals (ELG) and comments on whether their development within each ELG is either ‘emerging’, ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’. This information is also communicated to parents and carers in the Reception child’s end of year report and can be discussed in the final Parents’ Evening in Reception.
Role of staff and key worker
The class teacher is the named key worker for each child in the setting. Their role is to help ensure that every child’s care is tailored to meet their individual needs and to help the child become familiar with the setting, offer a settled relationship for the child and build a relationship with their parents. All adults within the Early Years setting actively seek to form positive respectful relationships with the children in their care. The formation of healthy relationships between adults and children is essential in enabling children’s well-being now and their future successes.
There are rare occasions when significant adults cannot be in the class and we aim to be consistent in who covers these absences.
Partnership with parents and carers
We believe that parents and carers are a child’s first educator and therefore work very closely to ensure they are involved in what we do with their child at school. We want parents to feel they can speak to us about their child at any time and feel comfortable in our setting. As well as the Nursery and Reception visit days we offer a Meet the Teacher session at the beginning of the school year and offer parenting workshops.
Over the first few days at the school we encourage parents and carers to stay for as long as they wish in the classroom to ensure the transition to the school goes smoothly. We have a slow staggered entry into Preschool and a slightly quicker staggered entry into Reception. In Preschool (and for new children in Reception) we sit down with each parent within the first few days to go through their booklet and learn more about the child and their family. Early in the first term parents are also invited to a parents’ meeting so the settling in can be reviewed.
We are aware that most parents will be part of the school for the next seven or eight years and want them to get to know their child’s peers and their families, so in late September we arrange a Welcome Party for all parents, children and their siblings. We ask parents to bring food to share and we provide the drink. All school staff attend so we can meet the parents in a more informal setting.
Parents are invited to attend a Parents’ Meeting each term and teachers are available most mornings and evenings to talk and to discuss more urgent matters.
Health & safety and safeguarding
Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met, and when they have positive relationships with the adults caring for them. We follow the safeguarding and welfare requirements detailed in the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Guidance (2014) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/299391/DFE- 00337-2014.pdf and there is a section in our school Safeguarding Policy that directly refers to practice in the EYFS.
It is important to note that members of staff do not use their mobile phones or personal handset devices in the classroom and are prohibited from taking photographs with their personal handsets. This is in line with our Safeguarding Policy. Members of staff do, however, use school iPads to take photographs as evidence to support the regular observation assessment cycle in the EYFS. These photographs are used in children’s portfolios, in class displays and on the school website. All parents are asked to state if they give permission for their child’s image to be used on the school website through the paperwork in their initial starter packs.
We are a healthy school and we ask that parents regularly provide healthy snacks to share; these might be bread sticks, rice cakes or more exotic fruits such as grapes or a pineapple.
Our staff model good eating habits by eating alongside the children. All children in Preschool and Reception bring packed lunches, apart from Fridays when it’s hot food day!
We take all accidents seriously and always log and phone home immediately if a child bangs their head. We have cold compresses stored in the freezer.
We encourage all children to start school without nappies but will support any children struggling with this. We acknowledge that young children often have ‘accidents’ (i.e. wet themselves!) and have stocks of spare clothes and change anyone who needs it. We ask parents to help keep our stocks of clothes high by returning anything their child has borrowed. Children are changed in the open area outside the toilets.
All large climbing equipment is checked by our site officer and fire alarms are held regularly in line with whole school policy. There is an annual external check of equipment.
We follow whole school procedures for child protection (see separate policy). Sandy Mathewson, head teacher, is the designated safeguarding lead and all concerns are discussed with her.
We have separate policies for medicine in school and off-site visits.
At Dania School we also recognise the importance of the Equality Act 2010. This replaced and unified all existing equality legislation such as the Race Relations Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act. It aims to ensure that all people (pupils/teachers/parents/family/visitors etc) have equality of opportunity in accessing and experiencing the life of the school. When carrying out our day to day work, we should have regard to the following:
- eliminating discrimination
- advancing equality of opportunity
- foster good relations across all people, whatever their characteristics may be
Written: Mike Papesch: Trustee: Jan 2013
Revised: John Newman January 2018
|This policy was adopted on||Signed on behalf of Dania School||Date for review|