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Early Years Vision
Our aim is to ensure our children grow in self-belief and confidence enabling them to succeed as learners and in life. Within the Early Years, there is a strong focus on PSED and an ethos of respect, kindness and friendship is woven into daily life. There is a real emphasis placed on safeguarding all children and we acknowledge that children identified as vulnerable or at risk of delay will require additional intervention and support from the onset. We value the backgrounds and cultures of our children and respect the important role played by parents/carers in their child’s learning, progress and development. The philosophy of working with parents/carers as the child’s first educator remains at the heart of the Early Years at Emmaus.
We pride ourselves in providing our children with inspirational learning environments and especially value the importance of exciting outdoor learning experiences, freely available every day. We incorporate Forest School initiatives into our outdoor provision to develop mindfulness, physical skills and emotional well-being.
We ensure that all children develop a life-long love for reading and a secure foundation of communication and language skills. Phonics is taught daily in Nursery and Reception, with a strong emphasis on multi-sensory, active, talk-rich experiences, planned according to children’s communication needs.
As a well-established Early Years team, we observe, prioritise and identify trends and patterns in learning, development and attainment over time. We strive to maintain high standards and design the curriculum to be ambitious, with all staff sharing the same commitment to high expectations within the setting. We aim to foster excellent attitudes to learning by providing effective and timely adult interactions to ensure that learning is instantly captured and enhanced.
Within the Early Years, our bespoke curriculum is planned and designed to provide all children with the opportunities and experiences that they need in order to develop positive dispositions and attitudes. Children’s interests and opinions are sought and possible lines of development are explored to ensure that children are motivated to learn and the best possible, ambitious learning outcomes are achieved.
The Early Years staff are committed to ensuring the best provision, resources and learning opportunities are available to the children in their care. They are resolute in staying up-to-date with local, national and international initiatives pertaining to outstanding Early Years education. Children are encouraged to take an active part in their learning journeys and become happy, healthy and independent learners. Our children are continually inspired to be emotionally intelligent, aspirational and always “reach for the stars”.
Quality-first teaching is based on a team planning approach, centred around children’s individual needs and interests. Staff are skilled in the teaching of phonics and reading and generate an enthusiasm for reading and a love of books whilst effectively teaching new ideas, concepts and vocabulary through daily story sessions and circle time activities.
Parents/carers are continually involved in their child’s learning, progress and development. They are engaged in supporting their child to learn to read through parent workshops, information leaflets and sessions where parents are invited to come in and read with their child. The mathematics curriculum is taught in practical, real-life contexts and then embedded through the wider curriculum. Learning logs are carefully tailored to ensure that parents/carers are involved and informed of key learning each week. They are invited to work with their child to reinforce and consolidate at home. Families are frequently invited into school to share their child’s experiences and to complete home learning challenges each half-term.
Children have access to well-resourced, high quality learning environments, indoors and outdoors, including Forest School. These are organised to allow children to develop new skills, build confidence, access materials and resources independently and make their own choices to move their learning forward. Staff are skilled at asking questions that encourage children to think more deeply about their learning, to extend their use of language across the curriculum and to make connections in order to embed new learning.
Children’s social, emotional and mental health is nurtured and self-care is encouraged through daily mindfulness, meditation exercises and yoga. Sensory needs are catered for using specialist resources to allow children to self-regulate. Healthy choices are encouraged and embedded in our daily routines: snack, physical activities, PE, outdoor activities.
Transition to Nursery and then Reception is carefully planned. Families receive comprehensive information booklets, welcome meetings, home visits and transition leaflets prior to starting school. Robust entry assessment take place within the first few weeks of entry to Nursery and Reception and these are quickly reviewed before the end of the first half-term. Pupil progress meetings take place at key points during the year. Staff arrange intervention programmes, which include small group and individual support to address the current needs of each cohort and bridge the gaps in learning and development.
Observational assessments are ongoing, relevant and purposeful, referenced to the Early Years outcomes and leading to improved outcomes for children. All staff take responsibility for making informed judgements about children’s development, celebrating achievements and planning next steps for learning.
The Reception team work closely with Year 1 staff to ensure a smooth transition and enable them to plan appropriate teaching, learning and progression at the very beginning of Key Stage 1. EYFSP data, SEND pupil profiles and ‘passports to Year 1’ are carefully discussed and transition booklets sent home for parents/carers to share with their children over the summer. Reception classes are evaluated and re-organised ready for Year 1; this provides a clear balance of ability, denomination and emotional/social well-being.
Early Years have their own email and social media channels, distinct to the rest of the school and there are very comprehensive class pages for Nursery/Reception on the school website. Technology is used daily to keep parents constantly updated, providing them with immediate insight into their child’s learning, development and achievements.
The team seek out CPD opportunities and have established firm links with other outstanding Early Years settings, teaching schools, and independent advisors.
The Early Years team are well established and have a vast knowledge of the majority of families at the school. This enables them to identify and close gaps in learning to support children in making rapid progress. The Early Years lead is deputy safeguarding lead and SENDCO, this enables her to know the families well and ensure support, right from the beginning of their learning journey in school.
Data over time shows that children in Early Years at Emmaus make outstanding progress from their starting points. Trends indicate that attainment at the end of Early Years is consistently above both local and national.
SLT carry out termly observations and learning walks. This monitoring ensures that teaching is always good and frequently outstanding. Pupil progress meetings and SEND reviews provide opportunities for the Early Years lead to discuss individuals and groups of children and ensure rigorous assessment has taken place.
Pupil voice surveys and parental feedback always demonstrate that parents/carers are confident that their children are nurtured in a safe, caring and engaging environment every day. There is a huge appreciation for the rich experiences and outstanding progress made during their time in Early Years.
Children leave Early Years, capable of managing their own feelings and behaviour and understand how these have an impact on others. As a result of the creative, stimulating environment we provide, by the end of the Foundation Stage, children flourish and develop into confident, motivated and independent learners ready for the next stage of their education. They enter Key Stage 1, ready to access the curriculum, confident to communicate their feelings and continue their learning journey happily at Emmaus.