In The Olives at Zaytouna Primary School we want our children to be happy. They should be excited and motivated to learn through rich and challenging learning experiences, opportunities to explore and take risks, and first-hand experiences. For us, it’s talk, talk, talk, talk, talk- communication all the way – as we know that this is fundamental to a child’s development and future success. Interactions change the architecture of the brain so it is important to us that we make the most of each and every interaction we have.
We have high ambitions for all our children but recognise that children have different starting points to their learning. We plan according to our children’s stage of development so all can thrive and develop. We aim for all our children to be well-rounded individuals who are independent, resilient, and confident in themselves and with others.
Our partnership with families means that parents have the opportunity to work closely with us to support their children’s transition into The Olives. We believe that an excellent partnership with parents is key to ensuring that parents feel secure in the knowledge that their child is well cared for and happy at school.
Every day, we provide opportunities for children to come together to share their experiences and have fun. Our children are happy, proud and feel secure knowing that we celebrate their successes and value their achievements. The curriculum is centred on children’s interests with a balance of child-initiated and adult-led learning.
Our learning environment facilitates child-initiated play and provides children with carefully planned opportunities which allow children to explore, create and learn through exciting, stimulating, interactive and accessible resources. We are a united team with play-based child centered learning at the heart of our practice. We aim to communicate and work cooperatively with parents and carers to support our children’s development.
As teachers we aim to remark on the remarkable, ensuring that we capture the key moments in a child’s developmental journey. We want our children to “approach all opportunities with curiosity, energy and enthusiasm.” (Birth to 5 Matters, 2021)
In EYFS, we meet the welfare requirements laid down in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. We actively safeguard and promote the welfare of all of our children. We recognise that children will learn most effectively when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met and when they have positive relationships with the adults who care for them. We aim to provide a setting that encompasses a safe and stimulating environment where children are able to enjoy learning and grow in confidence and independence.
Our EYFS classes follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and work towards achieving the Early Learning Goals. Our bespoke curriculum is based on our children and our community, but carefully constructed and sequenced so that learning builds secure foundations in the 7 areas of learning.
The core aim of the Foundation Stage is to provide a strong and solid platform on which all future learning will stand. To aid the early development of our children, we strongly believe that they should develop the three prime areas (P) first. These areas are particularly important for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving and stand them in good stead for developing the knowledge and understanding needed to be successful learners in the specific areas of learning (S). In turn, the three prime areas of learning are strengthened and applied.
Children in EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and
outdoor. Our outdoor areas are used all year round! We ensure learning experiences encompass the Characteristics of Effective Learning to ensure the best outcomes for children. These are:
- Playing and Exploring – children investigate and experience things, and have a go.
- Active Learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements.
- Creating and Thinking Critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.
Our Enterprises are driven from child-centred topics based on providing our children with ‘wow experiences’ which motivate the children, and are deeply rooted in the love of stories and reading. Subject knowledge of the EYFS curriculum is strong among all practitioners and is used to plan a broad, balanced and progressive learning environment and curriculum for all of our children.
We believe a robust reading for pleasure pedagogy encompasses four specific practices: reading aloud, informal book talk and recommendations, and independent reading time within a highly social reading environment (Cremin et al., 2014). These practices are underpinned by a teacher’s deep understanding of children’s literature and the children’s reading lives. Ultimately our aim was to build an immersive reading ethos and environment. One which creates, develops and nurtures a robust and sustained RfP pedagogy for our children.
Early reading is prioritised by following a nationally recognised synthetic phonics programme – Read, Write, Inc. Taught sessions take place on a daily basis following a set structure:
- Speed sounds (reading of phonetically decodable words by segmenting and blending). A new sound is introduced every day.
- Application of the above in Ditty Books
We teach the children to ‘bounce’ and ‘stretch’ sounds and support the children’s development using ‘dot and dash’ to visually support their learning of graphemes.
The children are taught in focussed groups based on their assessments.
Phonetically decodable and language rich reading books are available for the children to access in school and to take home. Our practice ensures that our children are read aloud to everyday in our classrooms.
Maths is taught following the Mastery Maths model through Power Maths supported by White Rose.
This follows the structure of:
- Retrieval of prior learning from last lesson and last week
- New learning is delivered via the “I do, we do, you do” approach
- The use of an enabling environment allows new learning to be applied and developed.
Through our enabling environment, our learning is not just adult lead sessions; children in the EYFS learn and develop by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outdoors. It is very important that they develop social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing and independence, which help them greatly in the next stages of their learning. The guiding principles that shape our practice in the Early Years are that children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them. Development is not an automatic process, however: it depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments.
Throughout the EYFS unit, staff quiz and question to develop children’s ideas and knowledge and remark on the remarkable, ensuring that they capture the key moments in a child’s developmental journey.
Through high quality provision, delivered at a consistently excellent level by all practitioners, all our children have the opportunity to grow and thrive. This equality of opportunity is embedded in all areas of the EYFS curriculum and our strong partnership with parents ensures it extends beyond the curriculum that is delivered in school.