‘The understanding of how children learn and develop, and the practices through which we can enhance that process. It is rooted in values and beliefs about what we want for children, and supported by knowledge, theory and experience’ (Stewart and Pugh, 2007).
The school’s Head teacher and senior leadership team commit to providing a setting that acknowledges and supports each individual child’s needs from birth upwards, based on the overwhelming evidence that young children need a broad-based curriculum that encourages foundational learning and development across all domains, with particular emphasis on physical, social and emotional, and language and communication development.
‘EYFS represents a distinct curriculum and pedagogy that supports all that is known about children’s early learning and development.’
Our approach should serve to create a deep and broad conceptualisation of how children learn and how early years teachers facilitate that learning. This approach is explicitly centered around a critical awareness of a broad and diverse demographic where the needs of children can be very different, with regards to when they were born, gender, special educational needs and English as an additional language.
The school provides a staff team that understands how children learn before they plan what children learn. This expectation will promote a culture where the children’s own characteristics of learning define how we teach. This will require a commitment to understand a child’s development from birth and throughout their primary years.
All of the staff have a significant role to play to ensure that the quality of the provision is of a high standard, understanding the components that make for a supportive and engaging learning process. This means that staff will be knowledgeable about child development whilst directly engaging in purposeful planning, preparation, teaching and pupil interactions.
To ensure that the provision is personalised, we will constantly observe and assess all of the children’s characteristics before effectively creating provision that supports their next steps.
The school understands the pressures and demands of the national curriculum and the accountability with regards to outcomes in reading, writing and maths. This does not mean that other fundamental expectations for the youngest children from birth can be compromised. Our approach ensure that our children are able to successfully make positive contributions to their learning within reading, writing and maths. Sensitivity must be applied to make sure that the provision of reading, writing is within a more valuable holistic setting, drawing on all foundation stage experiences and with an acute awareness of individual needs. Good provision for reading, writing and maths should integral to the wider picture and not to the detriment of other outcomes that may often be more challenging to measure. In year one, we seek to integrate these core principles in a way that does not compromise a child’s long-term emotional needs and engagement. The academic gap between the early years curriculum and the year 1 curriculum relates to the adjustments made to the national curriculum and not to a shortfall within the early learning goals.
‘it is important for children to exercise their developing skills through activities that foster creative play and social connection, teach them how to cope with stress, involve vigorous exercise and, over time, provide opportunities for directing their own actions with decreasing adult supervision.’
The school understands that the process of aligning the reception and year one expectation relates to all areas of a child’s development as well as academic curricular measures. This approach takes into account primary school learning in its entirety, whilst carefully building from the value of specific early years pre-requisites. Research shows that an overly formal approach to learning is likely to promote anxiety, a lack of confidence, lowered self-esteem and poor motivation. Therefore we must work with an awareness and sensitivity of these possibilities, whilst promoting positive mindsets through good relationships.
‘Learning in year 1 should extend from the EYFS and sustain its breadth and depth’ – Association for professional development in early years.
These themes should be explicit within our provision throughout school - as we plan, prepare and discharge a curriculum that understands how children grow and learn.