Rationale - Intent
The 2021/2022 cohort of children consist of 48% boys and 53% girls. 10% of these children are disadvantaged. These figures may change throughout the academic year.
At Heatherlands we believe that the children need 7 key skills as pre-requisite knowledge to starting school. School Readiness is when a child holds curiosity and enthusiasm for the world around them. They are able to co-operate and share with one another. They speak clearly in sentences whilst listening and understanding what others say. They move with co-ordination whilst able to address their care needs.
The bedrock of the practice in Early Years at Heatherlands Primary School is to promote the school values of respect, resilience, aspiration, motivation and independence. With these values embedded and fully understood by all children, we are creating excellent learning behaviours and productive and proactive learners. In order to become strong citizens of society the children need to make rapid progress in the prime areas of learning. These areas of learning underpin the children’s ability to effectively access the specific areas of learning. The balance of child-initiated and adult-directed learning along with the promotion of the school values encourage better than expected progress in the prime areas with high percentages of children exceeding the age-related expectations.
Early Years Practise
Language rich environments.
Well planned outdoor and indoor environments.
High quality resources.
Accessible resources to allow for open ended opportunities.
Child’s voice at the beginning and end of each topic.
Annual review of the curriculum.
The best for every child
Achievable challenges for all children.
Support for all children.
Individualised and differentiated work for all.
Child’s voice carried out at the beginning and end of each theme.
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have individual plans with achievable targets to work towards – these are reviewed half-termly.
The transition into school is robust and individualised when needed.
All early years’ staff are dedicated, knowledgeable and caring.
The child’s best interests are always at the centre of practice.
Strong and meaningful adult interactions and questioning during child initiated learning.
Self-regulation and executive function
Consistent and robust behaviour policy.
Small group work to help with focus and attention.
Trickbox provides tools to regulate feelings and behaviour.
There are seven key features which underpin practice in Early Years as outlined in Development Matters. This is how each of them look at Heatherlands Primary School.
Children’s progress is monitored half termly.
Learning environments are reviewed regularly.
Exciting and engaging themes which are reviewed annually.
Allowing for children to express their knowledge and ideas through Child’s Voice.
Opportunities for active learning both inside and outside.
Adults encourage critical thinking during child initiated learning through high quality interactions and questioning.
Partnership with parents
Home visits/parent teacher consultations.
Meet the teacher sessions.
Come and Explore sessions.
View Your Child’s Work termly.
Parent consultations twice a year.
Parent workshops on maths, phonics, writing and transition to Year 1.
Regular phonic updates.
Ongoing phonic assessment.
Half termly assessment against areas of learning.
Termly parent assessments.
Frequent meetings to discuss children of concern.
In Early Years we the use 7 areas of learning in Development Matters to plan. As a team we plan exciting and engaging themes which entice the children and allow for new opportuntites. Everything we plan for is enriched and developed from the children’s interests. Each theme is carefully planned with a focus on the knowledge and vocabulary that the children will gain from each one. New knowledge is planned for with the EYFS in mind and each theme is linked to many, if not all, of the areas of learning. A brief summary of each area of learning is outlined below.
Areas of Learning
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
See themselves as a valuable individual.
Build constructive and respectful relationships.
Consider the feelings of others.
Show resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge.
Identify and moderate their own feelings socially and emotionally.
Think about the perspectives of others.
Manage their own needs.
Communication and Language
Listening, Attention and understanding
Understand how to listen carefully and why listening is important.
Learn new vocabulary.
Use new vocabulary through the day.
Ask questions to find out more and check understanding.
Articulate their ideas and thoughts in well-formed sentences.
Connect one idea or action to another using connectives.
Describe events in some detail.
Use talk to work out problems and oranginse thinking.
Explain why things happen and how they might work.
Develop social phrases.
Engage in storytimes.
Listen to and talk about stories.
Listen carefully to and learn rhymes and songs.
Engage in non-fiction books.
Gross Motor Skills
Fine Motor Skills
Revise and refine fundamental movement skills.
Progress towards a more fluent style of moving, with developing control and grace.
Develop overall body strength, co-ordination, balance and agility.
Develop fine motor skills so they can use a range of tools.
Use their core muscle strength to achieve a good posture when sitting at a table or on the floor.
Combine different movements with ease and fluency.
Confidently and safely use a range of large and small apparatus.
Develop and refine a range of ball skills.
Develop the foundations of a handwriting style which is fast, accurate and efficient.
Know and talk about the different factors that support their overall health and wellbeing.
Further develop the skills they need to manage the school day successfully.
Read individual letters by saying the sounds for them.
Blend sounds into words, so they can read short words.
Read some letter groups that each represent one sound.
Read a few common exception words.
Read simple phrases and sentences made up of words with known letter-sound correspondeses.
Build confidence in word reading, fluency and enjoyment.
Form lower-case and capital letters correctly.
Spell words by identifying the sounds and then writing the sound with letters.
Write short sentences with words with known sound-letter correspondences using a capital letter and full stop.
Re-read what they have written to check that it makes sense.
Count objects, actions and sounds.
Link the number symbol with its cardinal number value.
Count beyond ten.
Understand the ‘one more than/one less than’ relationship between consecutive numbers.
Explore the composition of numbers to 10.
Automatically recall number bonds for numbers 0-10.
Select, rotate and manipulate shapes in order to develop spatial reasoning skills.
Compose and decompose shapes so that children recognise a shape ca have other shapes within it, just as numbers can.
Continue, copy and create repeating patterns.
Compare length, weight and capacity.
Understanding the World
Past and Present
People, Culture and Communities
The Natural World
Talk about members of their immediate family and community.
Name and describe people who are familiar to them.
Comment on images of familiar situations in the past.
Compare and contrast characters from stories, including figures from the past.
Draw information from a simple map.
Understand that some places are special to members of their community.
Recognise that people have different beliefs and celebrate special times in different ways.
Recognise some similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries.
Explore the natural world around them.
Describe what they see, hear and feel whilst outside.
Recognise some environements that are different to the one in which they live.
Understand the effect of changing seasons on the natural world around them.
Expressive Arts and Design
Creating with Materials
Being Imaginative and Expressive
Explore, use and refine a variety of artistic effects to express their ideas and feelings.
Return to and build on their previous learning, refining ideas and developing their ability to represent them.
Create collaboratively, sharing ideas, resources and skills.
Listen attentively, move to and talk about music, expressing their feelings and repsonses.
Watch and talk about dance and performance art, expressing their feelings and responses.
Sing in a group or on their own, increasingly matching the pitch and following the melody.
Develop storylines in their pretend play.
Explore and engage in music making and dance, performing solo or in groups.
Characteristics of effective teaching and learning
These characteristics outline how children learn rather than what they learn. They are reported on at the two parent consultations and in the end of year report and are as follows:
Playing and exploring:
Creating and Thinking Critically
The teaching of reading
At Heatherlands, children start learning phonics in their first week at school. A daily phonics lesson is taught, exposing every child to phase 2 and phase 3 phonemes by the end of Autumn term. We follow Letters and Sounds alongside Jolly Phonics to engage the children, using the songs and stories as reminders.
On their first day at school, children receive a reading pack. In the pack, children receive a book without words and once taught, 3 flashcards with words made up of s,a,t,p,i,n. As the children learn to segment and blend these words, more are added following the Letters and Sounds progression of phonemes. When the children can securely read all the flashcards with s, a, t, p, i, n they will receive their first book with words. They will not move onto the next set of books until they are secure with phonemes within it. This is to encourage fluency. Books are changed on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Children also have the opportunity to access books online through Bug Club.
Our aim is to read with every child individually once a week. Hotlist children are highlighted in a seperate reading folder to indicate disadvantaged children and children who have a lack of parental engagement. These children are read with as a priority.
Each theme taught has at least one key text, where story structure, fiction, non-fiction, key vocabulary and VIPERS are explored. We also have a good relationship with the local library who provide us with topic based books to use in our reading areas within the classroom.
Each week the children have two whole class reading lessons based around reading skills. The children are read half of the text on each of these days and asked questions related to the VIPERS.
The children visit the school library every week to choose new books to read as a class at the end of the day for pleasure. (COVID CHANGE – children will have the option of choosing from a selection of quarantined books that can be read for pleasure throughout the week in class)
In Early Years the children take part in the KS1 Heatherlands 100 Golden Reads where they are encouraged to read a variety of books at home in order to gain rewards throughout the year.
The teaching of writing
Children need to develop fine motor skills in order to have the muscle strength to be good writers. We endeavour to provide as many ‘funky finger’ opportunities as possible. During the first term we do daily ‘Dough Disco’ activities to strengthen the muscles in the children’s fingers, hands, thumbs and wrists. These are all of the muscles needed in order hold and control a pencil correctly. Children are encouraged to hold their pencil in a tripod grip.
The images below show the progression of pencil grips from fist grip to tripod grip.
At Heatherlands we teach the children to write in pre cursive where each letter has a lead in and lead out. The aim is to give the children a strong awareness of letter formation so that the transition to joined writing is smooth. Letter formation is taught during Busy Book time (when the children first come into school) and during phonic sessions as each new phoneme is taught. Letter formation sheets are sent home at the end of each week to allow extra practise at home.
Children write daily in their Busy Books. When the children first start school this is name writing practise. If they can already write their name, they practise writing it in pre cursive. This then moves on to phonic work such as initial sounds, CVC words, simple captions and simple sentences.
Within each topic, writing is carefully planned for. The children each have a writing book and will complete an adult directed and independent writing tasks linked to the theme per week. Writing is modelled to the children daily during whole class inputs and small group sessions.
Each classroom has an accessible writing area with many resources which the children can access during planning board times and ‘Let’s Learn’ sessions.
The teaching of Mathematics
In the children’s packs given to them on their first day of school are 2D and 3D shape cards and number cards to allow for practise at home.
In school we develop number skills through ensuring that the children really understand the value of number before introducing operations. We follow the Whiterose/Power maths scheme to ensure time is given to deepen knowledge. We work with numbers from 0-20 but cater for the exploration of larger numbers too.
During ‘Busy Book’ time the children practise the formation of numbers have the opportunity to practise newly taught skills.
Children are provided with numerous occasions through the year where they can explore 2D and 3D shapes. They are taught mathematical language to describe the shapes and review this during the maths input daily.
The children are exposed to a healthy combination of number, numerical pattern and shape activities. The ‘Counting Corner’ in each classroom has many high quality resources for the children to explore and embed their new mathematics skills during child initiated leaning. These resources are rotated to keep interest. Some counting resources are linked to the themes or seasons of the year.
At Heatherlands we value all parental support and believe that parents play a crucial role in their child’s learning and development. All parents are encouraged to read with their child regularly and are supported if they lack the confidence or skills to do so. Throughout the year, we invite parents to complete a termly assessment booklet based on their knowledge of their own child. These are then analysed and considered when completing in school assessments. We also encourage parents to complete WOW moments, linked to the school values, throughout the year, as regularly as they see fit. This is a lovely way of sharing something the children have done at home with the rest of the class and celebrating achievements, which have happened outside of school.
We welcome all parents who wish to come and hear our children read. Reading to a grown up often is crucial so any extra support is greatly appreciated. (COVID UPDATE – parents will be unable to do this during the pandemic.)
Home Learning is sent home each week and is linked to our theme and knowledge organiser. The home learning is achievable for all children and we aim to encourage parental enagegement through detailed discussions based on the current theme’s vocabulary.
Each classroom is unique. Each of the class teachers are encouraged to carefully plan for an engaging and purposeful learning environment to ensure high quality child initiated learning.
Each classroom has:
Timetable and routine
In Early Years the timetable is a working document which is changed throughout the year to allow for the growth and development of the children and their abilities. Generally the morning sessions are more formal and is composed of phonics, literacy and maths. During the morning some groups of children have access to child initiated learning and throughout the week, each child will have two sessions in the outside classroom. The children are encouraged to show independence and ownership of their learning from an early stage. During the literacy and maths sessions the children will complete an achieveable independent task based on that week’s taught skills. This will begin to prepare them for year 1. It also allows us as class teachers to gain a good understanding of what the children can achieve independently.
In the afternoon, we have ‘Let’s Learn’ sessions. This is where the children learn through planned and purposeful play. Learning through play helps young children to learn and develop through talking and exploring. At Heatherlands we plan for purposeful play by providing the children with opportunities to embed the skills that they have been taught during the morning sessions.
In ‘Let’s Learn’ the adults in the base work hard to interact with the children. These quality interactions involve questioning to challenge and extend their thinking. The children are encouraged to think critically and solve problems using their own ideas. The adults facilitate this by knowing when to begin the interaction with the child. All adults have specific training on observation and interactions and can all challenge the children appropriately, developing their independence and motivation through child initiated learning.
The children have a short morning and afternoon playtime where they can interact with other year groups.
During the summer term, Early Years children attend the Key Stage 1 assembly.
At Heatherlands, we value the individuality of all of our children. We are committed to making pupils strive to be the best they can whilst making a positive contribution to the school community and beyond. We realise this vision by taking account of pupil’s varied experiences and needs, offering a broad and balanced curriculum to motivate and engage the children. At Heatherlands, we are preparing our children for the future through the ‘Heatherlands Way’ which is our code of conduct and the umbrella term for our school values of respect, resilience, aspiration, motivation and independence.
Our equal opportunities and Accessibility Poilcy is intended to help to ensure that this school promotes the individuality of all children, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, attainment, age, disability, gender or background.
Transition - Pre-School to Early Years
The transition from the children’s preschool setting into school is a seamless one. The children settle very quickly and this is made possible through our transition process. The children and parents are invited to come to a ‘Come and Explore’ session where they explore the three classrooms, outside classroom and the creative area, stopping in each class to complete an activity if they wish. The parents are also welcome to talk to any of the adults around the base during this time. In July, the children then come to a ‘Meet the teacher’ session where they stay with their teacher and some of their classmates while the parents attend a workshop outlining key information and data. During July, the teachers also visit the main feeder nurseries to meet the children. During all of these activities and sessions, the teachers’ faces are becoming more familiar to the children.
In the first week at school the children have a part time timetable. In total they will have three half days (including lunch), the first of which is with only half the class. During this time boundaries and routines are explored. The children then start full time on the Monday of the second week. During the afternoons of the first week the teachers are doing home visits where they come to see the children in their own environments, this is a crucial part of the transition. Not only are the children becoming familiar with their teacher but it is an amazing opportunity to see the child in their own environment (often they are very different to how they are at school). The parents have the opportunity to ask any question or voice any concerns during this time that they may not want to ask or voice in front of other parents. (COVID UPDATE – tranisition into school in September 2021 looked different to the above. The above will resume as soon as possible.)
Transition – Early Years to Year 1
During the summer term the Year 1 teachers begin to visit Early Years. Teachers carry out a range of activities including story telling with all three classes so that all children can get to know all of Year 1 staff. This means that they know all of the adults that they will come across before starting in Year 1. Throughout the summer term, Early Years teachers work hard on preparing the children for the changes and the transition into Year 1.
Transition books and social stories are provided to children who show particular anxieties around change. After transition activities with Year 1, circle times are held in Early Years so that the children have the opportunity to voice any worries or concerns which can be addressed individually or as a class.
During the autumn term of Year 1, the children have familiar Early Years practices such as adult led focused activities and ‘Let’s Learn’ sessions which form part of the afternoon.
(COVID UPDATE – transition into Year 1 in September 2020 looked different to the above. The above will resume as soon as possible.)
At Heatherlands we assess children in a variety of ways. We complete ongoing phonic assessments and termly number assessments and observe and interact with the children during child initiated learning. We have meetings every three weeks to discuss children who are a concern and discuss barriers to learning and what can be done to ensure progress is made. We also take termly parent assessments into consideration. Observing children is important in gaining an accurate picture of the children’s progress, their individual needs, their individual learning styles and their interests.
We assess the children every half term to allow for careful analysis of any ‘gaps’ in learning. The information we gain from these assessments is used to shape new learning experiences through planning.
All of the observations and pictures are collated to create each child’s individual Learning Log. Each child has a Learning Log which is a scrap book documenting their individual learning experiences throughout Early Years. These Learning Logs are a celebration of the children’s achievements and are used to inform next steps. Throughout the year they are used as an assessment tool. At the end of the year parents get to keep them as a memory of the journey their child went on throughout their time in Early Years.