EYFS (Year R - Squirrels Class)
Squirrels Class (Early Years Reception Year) does not follow the National Curriculum as the rest of the school, they using the Early Years Foundation Stage. As a result, learning is set out differently and as this class is not mixed age, they only follow a one-year curriculum. We take a holistic approach to learning and development and across this curriculum, the overarching principles are:
- Every child is unique, they are constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident & self-assured,
- Strong relations enable children to become strong and independent
- Enabling environments with teaching and support for the adults who respond to their interests and needs help children learn and develop well. Children benefit from strong partnership between school staff and parents/ carers.
- Children learn at different rates so it is an individual's learning and development that is key
There are seven areas of learning and development that shape the curriculum. All these areas are interconnected and important:
Three Prime Areas: Communication & Language, Physical Development and Personal, Social & Emotional Development.
Four Specific Areas: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding The World and Expressive Arts & Design.
Our EYFS curriculum is developing and shaping. We tailor it to the needs of the current cohort so it is not 'rolled out' the same each year.
The Early Years Curriculum
We believe that children learn most effectively when they are given choice about what they learn, how they learn and are provided with a supportive, fun and safe learning environment. We feel that all these factors contribute towards a child’s fundamental enjoyment of learning.
We understand that the first year in school is a crucial year for not only providing the children with a strong and secure base in the prime areas of learning but also providing them with the necessary core life skills, knowledge and confidence in their abilities for the next stage in their learning. As a result, our lessons are planned to accommodate child-initiated play alongside teacher-directed activities. This is essential practice to ensure that all areas of the curriculum are covered and making sure that children cover everything that they wouldn’t necessarily come to through their own choice or experience.
We carefully structure our day to balance short adult-led learning, with longer child-led sessions. We expect both approaches to foster the characteristics of effective learning and produce deep-level learning. We have clear progression in the skills needed across the Prime (Physical Development; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication and Language) and Core areas (Mathematics, Literacy, Expressive Arts and Design and Understanding the World). Daily mathematical, literacy and fine motor challenges are also set and children are encouraged to complete them.
Active learning and real life mathematics enable our children to develop skills and understanding. As part of our core provision, we offer a wide range of meaningful experiences such as cooking, shopping, games, den building, construction, problem-solving, measuring as part of creative experiences and understanding time as part of supporting sharing and turn taking.
We organise topic related class trips each year, as well as trips out locally to places such as the church. As well as trips out, we ensure we provide a range of high-quality, enriching visitors and experiences in school, including the SCARF life bus and the local Fire Brigade amongst others.
At Itchen Abbas Primary School, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Itchen Abbas Primary School, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
We understand that every child is unique and will have their own individual needs and ways of learning. We aim to provide an environment where all children can thrive and reach their full potential. Any children in need of extra support will be planned for and strategies shared with families and the team. In Squirrels Class we recognise that all children develop at their own rate and support and celebrate their uniqueness.
The safety of our children is our utmost priority. Staff carry out and regularly up-date Risk Assessments, involving the children, and ensure appropriate safety equipment is used. They teach the children to be aware of how to keep themselves safe especially when using large scale construction or when using the bikes and scooters in the outside area. Children are familiar with following procedures and practise fire drills on a regular basis. If any incidents do occur, we can care for the children effectively and have at least 2 members of our team Paediatric first aid trained.
Transition and parental partnership
We believe that for children to thrive in school they must feel secure and confident. For this to happen then parents must also feel secure and confident. In addition, understanding the interests and motivations of each unique child is central to effective learning, it is critical we engage effectively with both parents and pre-school provision both prior and during the child’s time in school.
We recognise that parents and carers are first and foremost the child’s first educators and therefore consider them part of our team. We maintain excellent liaison with parents through:
- A chance to meet the Squirrels class team during our summer term welcome meeting
- Visits for all children starting reception
- Contact with every pre-school/child minder during summer term
- Home Visits with parents where you can talk to us about your child, share any concerns/ queries and learn about the expectations at the end of EYFS
- Parents are invited into classrooms, throughout the year, to look through Learning Journeys and enjoy sharing books with their children