In our Early Years unit at Saint Augustine Webster Catholic Voluntary Academy, we ensure our children have the best start in life providing a safe and exciting learning environment nurtured in our faith community. We know the importance of how children develop and learn in different ways and we ensure that every child is cared for uniquely. Through our carefully planned learning environment, we know our children will develop their curiosity and resilience to become caring, creative, capable, confident, strong and independent individuals.
Children join our unit from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures and this rich and valued diversity gives each child their own starting point for exploration and learning. We value our transition programme and know that this enables us to build strong, positive relationships with families to provide the best possible learning journey for every child.
Our school virtues and statements to live by are embedded throughout school and are integral to the way we care for and educate our children. Our mission is to develop happy children who have the essential knowledge that they need, to find their way in the world around them and prepare them for their future success.
Practitioners teach children by ensuring challenging, playful opportunities both indoors and outside across the EYFS curriculum. We are sensitive and responsive to the children’s needs and their interests. Independence, curiosity, exploration and learning in the child’s play is encouraged and all efforts are valued and celebrated.
Knowledge and understanding of the children and their families begins with the transition processes between school, home, pre-school settings and external agencies. All information to support the child is shared with the relevant professionals in school i.e., School Leadership Team (SLT), Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and the Special Needs Coordinator (SENDCo)
This understanding of the child and their needs enables the practitioners to assess the children’s starting points for development and plan the curriculum to meet their needs. These assessments are both formal baseline assessments through the statutory ‘Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA), ‘Religious Education’ and ongoing teacher observations in provision.
Opportunities for focused teacher and child led exploration and learning are planned for and the long-term plan (LTP) ensures that further opportunities to revisit learning are in place throughout the year.
The academy virtues and statements to live by, are threaded through our approach to the love, care and education of our children and are specifically included in the Nursery and Reception LTP’s to ensure consistent focus. The ‘Come and See’ religious education programme supports our faith teaching across the school and this begins in Nursery.
The early years curriculum is designed to meet all the areas of the EYFS framework. The themes and continuous provision enhancements are adapted to meet the needs of each cohort. The attainment in each area is reviewed termly with strengths and areas to support noted leading to adaptions in the curriculum to meet individual children’s needs – an ongoing plan, do, review approach. The prime areas of learning – PSE/C&L/Physical – are always a key focus in Nursery with more focus on the specific areas – Literacy and Mathematics – in Reception. The Characteristics of Learning are woven through all that we do ensuring children have opportunities to play and explore, make links to learning and demonstrate the ability to maintain attention and focus.
Early reading is the gateway to developing imagination and learning with this being a huge focus point starting from the first transitional events. We work hard to ensure children and families develop a love of reading and know the importance of sharing a book with someone special every day!
Within EYFS, we introduce children to reading through the ‘Little Wandle’ synthetic phonics learning programme. The children in Nursery focus largely on auditory learning – hearing sounds in words and being able to orally blend. As children move into Reception, they begin to learn how to read sounds so they can work towards reading words and eventually sentences. Through this scheme they learn a number of ‘tricky’ words and the process involved to segment to spell words, with the intention that by the end of Reception, children will be able to write simple sentences.
Our aim is for the progress of children to be ‘Good’. We strive for all children to reach expected for the Early Learning Goals at the end of Reception, ensuring they are then in line with the National expectations for starting their journey in Key Stage 1. Teacher judgements, observations on Tapestry and the data on OTrack all help to carefully track and monitor the progress of each child to ensure they reach a ‘Good Level of Development. Through ongoing teacher judgements throughout the year, we are able to monitor whether children are on track. Where children are not on track, we are able to plan for interventions to further support learning and narrow the gaps.
If you were to walk into the Early Years Unit at Saint Augustine Webster, you would see:
- Warm, supportive relationships between adults and children.
- Happy, engaged children who are able to work both independently and collaboratively with adults and their peers.
- A stimulating environment that enables and encourages exploration, fosters play and develops the characteristics of effective learning.
- Systems and procedures that support the care and education of all children.