What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?
The Early Years Foundation Stage is a very distinct stage of education, which covers children from birth to the end of the Reception year. It is a distinctive and key phase of a child’s education. At St Bernadette we aim to provide children with opportunities to ask questions, learn facts, develop skills, extend their thinking, refine ideas and foster their independence in order that they develop lively enquiring minds and become confident learners. Well-planned play is the key way in which young children learn and we aim to provide meaningful and relevant experiences, which challenge children and help them to progress. Planning within the EYFS therefore needs to be flexible in order to meet individual children’s needs.
What does this mean at St Bernadette School?
At St Bernadette our Nursery and Reception years form the Early Years Foundation Stage. It begins in our Nursery, which children can join in the Autumn term of the academic year in which they will be 4 years old. In the September following this, all children who have been allocated a place in Reception progress through the school.
The areas of learning and development
There are seven areas of learning and development that shape our educational programme. All these areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive, the prime areas:
- Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
- Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
- Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.
There are also four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied:
- Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest.
- 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.
- Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
- Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.
Planning within the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum is based on early learning goals and development matters, through which children progress during their time in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
As a Catholic school, we place an emphasis on the teaching of RE alongside the 6 areas of learning. This includes teaching the children about the Church year and some aspects of other faiths. Religious education in a Catholic school is the study of God, of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, of the Church and of what Catholics believe. We aim for the teaching of RE in our school to develop children’s free thoughts and attitudes in response to teaching about God and of the work of Jesus in our everyday lives.
There are many varied opportunities for worship in our school, including assemblies, Masses in Church, class Masses and religious celebrations, which may be held in class or in the hall. There will be times when you are invited to attend these. Each class also has its own acts of worship every week in the classroom.
Children in Nursery attend some Masses in Church for part of the Mass, usually from January onwards. Children in Reception attend all Masses in Church. Children at school Masses are expected to behave the same way we expect them to behave in school. They are taught respect for the Mass early on. We encourage parents to do likewise when you attend Mass with your child on a weekly basis.