‘The quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements is excellent’.
At St Christopher’s School, we believe that children deserve the best possible start to their education. Our Early Years team strive to provide an environment where children feel safe, happy, supported and secure. We consider each child’s interests, wants and needs so that they are ready to learn and exceed. We are committed to providing a quality Early Years education that is; creative, challenging, active and broad in order to develop a thirst and excitement for learning.
We believe that the Early Years are critical in children’s development and that the EYFS builds a firm basis for future learning, development and independence. Therefore we educate the whole child and promote independence, curiosity, respect and resilience.
We aim to:
Identify and value children’s strengths, interests and learning styles so that they develop confidence, respect, independence and high self-esteem.
Develop and build solid relationships with our children and their families.
Cultivate children’s attitudes to learning, self-motivation, inquisitiveness, self-confidence and responsibility.
Nurture and encourage children’s curiosity, reflectiveness, creativity and resourcefulness.
Develop children’s responsive thoughts and ideas, and value their work, conversations and feelings.
Provide the highest quality learning experiences for all children. Learning that is exciting, creative, real, challenging; encouraging risk taking and fun.
Provide the highest quality teaching and learning that takes into account the interests of the children, their developmental and relating needs and allows them to make progress.
Support children’s learning by providing them with first hand learning experiences that are rooted in purposeful, resilient play.
Support the children in making the transition from their first stage of education to the next with confidence.
‘Children in the EYFS make excellent progress from their starting points and typically leave the Reception year having fulfilled at least age-related expectations, with the minority of children exceeding these due to the effective teaching that they receive.’ ISI inspection report 2019 Foundation Stage Curriculum
In the Foundation Stage we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). We support our children to become independent and collaborative learners by providing a range of activities and experiences. Through these experiences we encourage children to take risks, discover and make links between their explorations. We also introduce and begin to embed our school values: , Honesty, Kindness, Trust, Courage, Friendship and Happiness.
Within the EYFS, there are seven areas of learning and the development of all areas are important and inter-connected. The areas are split into prime and specific zones. The prime areas of learning are fundamental to children’s successful learning in the specific areas and are vital as they lay the foundations for children’s success in all other areas of learning and life.
Prime areas of learning
Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
In order for children to become confident, social members of society and resilient learners they must be supported in their ability to make relationships, manage their feelings and behaviour and develop their self confidence and self-esteem. Children will learn together in an environment that supports them holistically. Your child’s teacher will support all aspects of this area through play, discussion and by being good role models themselves. Children will learn to resolve conflicts, be assertive and have the confidence to follow their talents. As well as becoming resilient young people, your child will be supported in making positive relationships with their peers and adults within the school.
‘Principles and values are actively promoted which facilitate the personal development of pupils as responsible, tolerant, law abiding citizens’ ISI inspection report 2019
Moving and Handling covers both large and fine motor skills. Your child will receive Physical Education (PE) lessons as well as Yoga sessions, supporting their ever developing large motor skills. We aim to inspire children to enjoy physical activity, something that is extremely important to life-long well-being.
Fine motor skills include the ability to use tools, write, and fasten zips and buttons. Whilst with their teacher your child will be subjected to various activities to promote these skills.
Additionally to physical skill, your child will become aware of how to be safe and healthy. Children will discover the importance and health benefits of food, exercise and sleep as well as how to support themselves independently with dressing and taking care of their personal hygiene.
Communication and Language (C&L)
Speaking, Understanding, Listening and Attention make up this area of development.
At St Christopher’s, we have a wealth of languages and cultural backgrounds. Children will be taught in English, thus supporting their English language skills. The children will be developing and learning in a language rich environment with teachers modelling and teaching language through play. This area is further supported by a phonics scheme called ‘Floppy Phonics’ and supplemented by Letters and Sounds.
For many children English is not their first language and therefore the opportunity to speak in their mother tongue with their peers will not be discouraged. We believe that in order to develop an additional language, early year’s children must have a secure first language to attach it to.
The specific areas provide the range of experiences and opportunities for children to broaden their knowledge and skills:
The specific areas provide the range of experiences and opportunities for children to broaden their knowledge and skills:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
Specific areas of learning
Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Within the classroom we encourage this with the use of Talk for Writing and daily stories. This is where the children are able to tell their own stories, which are scribed by an adult, and then performed to the rest of the class.
Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures. We follow the CPA (Concrete, Practical and Abstract) approach in math’s, it is a highly effective approach to teaching that develops a deep and sustainable understanding of math’s in pupils.
Understanding of the world. This area of development covers People and Communities, The World and Technology. Children will be provided with activities to support their learning such as the opportunity to use ICT, get messy with experimental play and going out to explore their environment; discussing what they can see. Throughout the year, topics such as ‘people who help us’ will provide children with knowledge about our wider community. Children are also encouraged to share experiences that they have with their families, for example celebrations and going to the cinema, beach or the zoo.
Expressive Arts. Imaginative play is crucial to allow children to practice and act out what they have learnt and observed. Children will be encouraged through resources to design their own role play with their peers, thus supporting their ability to make relationships.
Drama and music sessions delivered by dedicated teachers will give children access to expressive arts and design classes throughout the week. Children will be given opportunities to explore colour, make their own creations, follow instructions, sing and play instruments in order to express themselves and develop their own personalities.
Children’s learning is recorded in a learning journal. This journal shows examples of photographs, written observation, examples of mark making, the child and parent’s voice and next steps for learning.
Parents and children are able to look at the learning journey throughout the day and take it home to share with extended members of their family. We encourage parents to add their own ‘magical’ moment comments and observations of their children at home too. We regularly share them with other professionals during internal and external moderation.
Special visits, family and friends
We enjoy welcoming guests and visitors from the local community into our classroom to make our learning more exciting and real. We love them to help us with creative projects, school trips, to watch our infant nativity, parent learning sessions and parent teaching assemblies, to listen to us read or to just play games with us.
We work closely with parents and this is encouraged from before our children start at St Christopher’s. We have many transition events open to families which enable us to get to know our families really well.
We encourage parents to come into school through: transition meetings, teddy bears picnic and open mornings. Parents are always welcome to make individual appointments with the class teacher after school. Also, we welcome parents to come into class and share their skills and time with us.
At St Christopher’s we strive to cater for the individual needs and interests of our children. Children may choose from a wide and varied selection of activities:
- Creating imaginative games in the role play
- Sharing stories and books together in the book camp.
- Using a variety of construction toys to create interesting models and structures both inside and outside
- Choose their own mark making tools and media to develop early writing and drawing skills
- Get messy with sensory play such as snow, gloop and shaving foam
- Making delicious creations in our mud kitchen
- Paint, print and explore colour, shape, pattern and texture
- Get creative with dough, collage materials and junk modelling.
- Interactive learning on the white board, iPads and lap tops
- Explore and investigate sand and water
- Build dens and structures with loose parts outside
- Make roads and ride the trikes and scooters on the infants playground
- Climb the frame, walk across the bridge and slide down the fireman’s pole
We have a large playground at the back of the school where children are encouraged to learn through investigating their environment, building confidence, resilience and independence. We provide children with waterproof clothing so that they can get active and dirty and encourage children to bring in their own wellies so that we can use the outside space all year round.
Additionally we teach our children about the importance of a healthy diet, keeping fit and being clean. We have snack times scheduled in the morning and afternoon, which help children to fuel their brains and bodies for learning.
Academic year 2021-2022
Children in Nursery and Reception are provided with a stimulating learning environment, which encourages learning through play – a fundamental part of early learning. The school uses the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum to plan learning opportunities in the following areas:
Characteristics of effective learning
Playing and exploring – engagement
· Finding out and exploring
· Playing with what they know
· Being willing to have a go
Active learning – motivation
· Being involved and concentrating
· Keeping trying
· Enjoying achieving what they set out to do
Creating and thinking critically – thinking
· Having their own ideas
· Making links
· Choosing to do things
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
· Self Regulation
· Managing Self
· Building relationships
· Gross Motor Skills
· Fine Motor Skills
Communication and Language
· Listening, attention & Understanding
· Numerical patterns
Understanding the World
· Past and Present
· People, culture and Communities
· The Natural World
Expressive Arts and Design
· Creating with materials
· Being imaginative and Expressive
Throughout the year we hold Open Days for parents. Parents visit the classrooms and find out more about the learning which takes place.
Here are some of the valuable feedback we have received:
“Very positive – good to see the children being engaged and involved in carpet time”
“It was a useful insight into my son’s routine at school. It was really nice to be able to look at his work books and see how he has been progressing in class.”
“Overall I found it to be a very positive and enjoyable experience, which helped me to put my son’s learning into context.”
“I really appreciated the invitation to observe what my daughter has been learning.”
“It gives me perspective of what she is learning and allows me to continue the learning process at home.”
“We especially appreciate the class teacher who really challenges my daughter in her reading, writing and maths skills.”
“Nice to see all the children interested and participating in all activities”
“Today I found the open morning very eye-opening and helpful, was great to see how far she has come since September.”
In the Early Years Foundation Stage children learn through play, exploration and practical activities which help them to make sense of their world. The Learning Journey documents your child’s learning and development throughout their Reception year at school and is made up of the information, observations and photographs that we gather for each child. All of this information helps us to assess the children’s learning and development and plan appropriately for each child as they work towards achieving the Early Learning Goals by the end of Reception. We also warmly welcome contributions from parents and other family members, as this really helps to build a picture of the whole child from more than one perspective. Traditionally, these individual records have been collected in scrapbooks or binders, building up into a memoir that children can take with them when they leave for the next stages of their journey through life.
At St Christopher’s we are always assessing our practice and looking at how we can improve. We have reviewed the learning journeys that were used in the past and have decided to collect childrens work in a ‘lever arch file’. These files shall be stored in your child’s classroom, where children will take ownership of their file and use it daily to look through their learning, file their own work and show their achievements to their friends and other staff. You too shall have an opportunity to come along and see your child’s learning journey during timetabled slots each half term.
We love to hear about learning and ‘magical moments’ from home to share with your child in school. Please do click below to download your own copies, fill them in and send them into school. We would be delighted to read all the magical things your child can do!
NOTE: Parents are only able to view their own child’s journal. However, because children play in close proximity with their friends it does not reflect a true picture of their time at school if photographs are only of a single child. Therefore, photographs of your child may appear on their friends learning journeys.
Getting started in the foundation stage
Our Early Years Foundation Stage Children (those who start in Reception) and are taught by our Head of EYFS, Miss Bhadresa (the children know her as Miss B), an experienced Early Years Foundation Stage Teacher.
We recognise that starting school is a big transition for both children and parents and we provide a range of events and activities to support you and your child through this process. These include:
COME & JOIN IN
Each year we hold ‘Come & Join In’ sessions which are to enable your child to become familiar with the classroom setting and for the new class to enjoy the classroom environment together. Parents and Carers are encouraged to spend some time with their child exploring the learning environments. Once their child is comfortable, parents are encouraged to sit aside, letting their child explore independently.
PARENT/CARER INDUCTION EVENING
We will invite you to an induction evening about becoming part of St Christopher’s on one evening during the Summer Term. During this meeting you will meet your child’s Teacher and will hear important information about the transition process and preparing your child for the first few days in their new school. You will also have a chance to ask any questions you may have and see the classroom and other learning environments that your child will use during their Reception year.
Parent workshops throughout the year
You, as Parents and Carers, are an important part of your child’s education. All children at our school make ‘Good’ progress from their relative starting points. The school’s tracking systems also indicate clearly that a child who is well supported at home makes even greater progress- this partnership is essential.
To help you with this, you will be invited to further meetings in the new academic year that explain how we plan, teach and assess your children how we teach phonics and maths, and how you can support at home. Dates for these will be shared with you via a formal letter.
Phonics in EYFS
As you know, the ability to read and write well is a vital skill for all children, paving the way for an enjoyable and successful school experience. Children learn and practise many of the skills that they need for reading and writing from a very early age. They do this through a wide range of activities and experiences, at home, in settings and in school. They explore and learn through singing and saying rhymes, making and listening to music, talking with others, sharing books with adults and other children, dressing up, experimenting with writing and using puppets and toys to retell and make up stories.
When children enter Reception they take part in high-quality phonics sessions every day. These are fun sessions involving lots of speaking, listening and games, where the emphasis is on children’s active participation. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play. The aim of the booklet is to give you a clear picture of how we approach the teaching of phonics and word recognition and how, as a parent or carer, you can support and encourage your child at home.From a very early stage, children develop awareness of different sounds in spoken language. They develop understanding that spoken words are made up of different sounds (phonemes) and they learn to match these phonemes to letters (graphemes). Phonics is about children knowing how letters link to sounds (graphemes to phonemes), for example, c as in ‘cat’, ll as in ‘fell’, ee as in ‘sheep’. Children use this phonic knowledge when they are reading and writing. This approach has been shown to provide a quick and efficient way for most young children to learn to read words on the page, fluently and accurately. We want children to develop this skill so that it becomes automatic. This also greatly helps them with their spelling. At school we use a systematic phonics programme called Floppy Phonics- supplemented by Letters and Sounds.
Reading in EYFS
Reading is taught both through phonics – decoding texts through an understanding of phoneme/grapheme correspondence, and through developing reading behaviours, through modelling reading and enjoying a range of books together. Children are also taught to recognise some familiar and frequently used words by sight.
By the end of the first half term (or sooner, depending on ability), children are taking home phonics materials and/or reading books to share at home. Children engage in whole class shared reading, small group guided reading and individual reading with adults. Children are encouraged to spend time each day quietly enjoying books, and the learning environment has a dedicated and well- resourced reading area, which is regularly refreshed to motivate and inspire early readers.
Early reading comprehension is introduced, often involving the children following simple written instructions to colour, draw a picture, make a model or find clues in a treasure hunt!
Reading materials from a range of publishers are carefully graded to ensure children’s progression and coverage of a range of genres. Most children will read with an adult in school at least twice a week at this stage (guided and individual reading).
Types of reading in Reception
Individual reading (one to one reading)
This involves children reading 1:1 with an adult in school and usually involves the child reading some of their current reading book to the adult, who supports and encourages the child, while gently highlighting strategies to help the child improve their reading.
Sometimes the session will involve discussion of a book or part of a book the child has read at home, to establish comprehension skills. The adult records the reading session with a note in the child’s reading record book and the class reading records. The session is also used as an opportunity for the adult to check that the child is reading at the correct level in the school reading scheme, and to note assessment points and pass comments on to parents regarding the child’s progress in reading.
Guided reading (group reading)
Guided reading involves planned, focussed reading activities with an adult and up to six ability grouped children. The learning is objective led and this is shared explicitly with the pupils at the start of the session.
Objectives are chosen to suit the text, and to ensure coverage of all the assessment focusses. The session can follow a range of formats, but typically would involve some modelling of reading on the part of the adult, highlighting the learning objective. Children will then be given an opportunity to read, either quietly to themselves, or taking turns to read aloud to the group. The approach to the session will depend largely on the assessment focus.
For example, if the focus is reading with fluency and expression, then reading aloud would be appropriate. If the learning objective is to select information from a non-fiction text, then it may be more appropriate to pose questions to the children, and then for them to quietly find the information and explain their findings to the group.
In some instances, the child may be asked to take the text home to read more, or to answer further questions in preparation for the next guided reading session.
Guided reading with younger children will sometimes be book-based, but will also incorporate reading games, such as card games, treasure hunts and matching games designed to meet specific objectives and spelling patterns.
Children’s reading is assessed during the session and children are given supportive verbal feedback, praising their reading skills and suggesting ways in which they can improve.
Assessments are recorded briefly for the purpose of future planning, and the fact that the child has engaged in guided reading is noted in the each child’s reading record book for the parent’s information.
guided reading takes place once a week and like individual reading, teaching staff make careful assessment notes which are shared with the children.
Shared reading involves whole class or large group reading, supported by an adult, and can cover a wide range of genres across the curriculum. Children are supported in reading a text that is visible to all. Differentiation is achieved by level of questioning and relies on the adult having a good knowledge of the children’s reading ability.
Less able readers will be asked to contribute to the session by decoding and reading words at their level, while more able readers will be stretched by reading more challenging sections, or by responding to higher level comprehension questions.
Repeat reading by the adult leading the session following children’s contributions ensures that all pupils are able to follow and understand the text.
Shared reading takes place many times during the week, and children’s reading can be assessed when possible by discrete note taking by our team.
Our reading scheme books are selected from a range of publishers to ensure that children are exposed to variation in style, presentation and content, and to reduce reliance on one particular type of text or illustration, The books are divided into colour coded ‘bands’ according to their ease of reading, and each band contains a spread of genres appropriate for children reading at that particular level. Main publishers featuring in our reading scheme include Oxford reading tree, Project X, PM starters and Lighthouse.
Depending on their ability and rate of reading, children are encouraged to take up to three books home to read, and to change these as they become competent. In some cases, with beginning readers, this may involve them reading the same book several times to develop fluency or practice recognising and decoding words. More able readers will read a longer text just once, perhaps reading some of it aloud to an adult or discussing its content to ensure comprehension before moving to a new book.
Within each colour band there will be a range of levels of difficulty, to enable children to be both challenged in their reading skills and to develop the enjoyment and confidence that comes with reading an easier book for pleasure. We recognise that the long term aim is to produce lifelong readers, and that this involves fostering a love of reading.
Records are kept of reading scheme books read by children to ensure that reading is progressing at an appropriate pace, and that a range of genres are covered.
Enrichment in learning
At St Christopher’s we never sit still. We are always looking for new ways to give your child an even better, more stimulating experience. Helping every child to extend and further develop key skills at every level whilst having tremendous fun and making new friends at the same time.
The enrichment learning enhancements at St Christopher’s complement the already quality and stimulating environment for your child. Each enhancement offers different play and learning opportunities within day-to-day activities and practice.
Our enhancements help to ensure we maintain our excellence in the quality of teaching, learning and care.
Making a positive impact to young children’s learning and development is adding value to their young lives in preparation for their future.
(Please note some of these enhancement learning experiences come at an additional cost)
Our current enhancements are:
Click on the link for more information –http://www.theatrebugs.co.uk/
Spanish Gujarati Growing all year ground
Thank you for taking the time to read all about our foundation stage. We hope to see you soon!