“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
At St Bernadette’s, from the moment a child joins our school family, we create an inclusive learning environment, which builds relationships that support, enhance, and invite a child’s curiosity, confidence, and individual competency to flourish regardless of background, circumstance or needs. Each child is at the centre of everything that we do, so that they feel safe, happy, enthusiastic and show excitement as they fulfil our School Mission to ‘Grow in Faith, Love and Learning’.
From their first warm welcome at the door, to the clear and calm routines, that are embedded from day one, our children are encouraged to drive their own learning with confidence and resilience.
We work extremely closely with parents and build positive relationships even before the children begin in our setting. We work in partnership to recognise the children’s starting points, needs and prior learning from both previous settings and experiences at home through:
- Our Toddler ‘Bernie’s Bears’ Stay and Play group (from birth to 4),
- Our Starting Nursery/Reception Information afternoons/evenings (prior to starting)
- New Starter Taster Sessions for Nursery/Reception ‘Moving up Days’
- Summer Play date – for Parents to meet (Teachers and Headteachers to address any further questions)
- Ongoing Nursery & Reception Transition events throughout the year,
- Liaising with other settings prior to starting,
- Identifying children’s needs with our School Nurture & SENDCO, outside agencies and the School Nurse,
- Completion of the children’s Starting Nursery/School scrap books,
- Building valued relationships with Parents from our initial meetings and then communicating through our Parent App and Class Dojo.
Thus, providing the children with the best possible start and ensuring that each child reaches their full potential (from their own starting points), through their Early Years journey at St. Bernadette’s.
‘Growing in a Love of Reading’
As we ‘Grow in a Love of Reading,’ we have created a ‘literacy-rich,’ ambitious curriculum, which is designed to give all children firm foundations and ‘enlarge every child’s world’ through a love of books. Our love of books is central to everything we do in Early Years. Our intention is that all children read well, quickly and grow in their love of reading.
Through our Sounds~Write DfE Validated systematic synthetic phonics programme, we aim for all children including those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with SEND, to acquire a secure knowledge to become confident and fluent readers and writers. High Quality training and ongoing CPD has equipped staff with the pedagogy, practise, and confidence in teaching the skills of early reading. As parents are integral to each child’s reading journey, we support them through our Growing Together reading/phonics workshops, Weekly Dojo Growing Together News and videos, to develop their knowledge and skills and how to help their child read well. We aim to foster the love of reading through our weekly ‘Love of Reading’ books being sent home, trips to the library and fun reading events (e.g. Our Mystery Reader) throughout their Early Years journey.
‘Floating on a Sea of Talk’
As talk is inextricably linked to all children’s development, we aim for all the children to acquire a breadth of vocabulary within our ‘literacy-rich curriculum, which they use confidently and fluently. Our vision is to foster all the skills required across our Early Years, so that the children ‘Learn to listen…listen to learn’ and ‘Learn to Talk…Talk to learn’. This in turn promotes self-confidence, resilience and empathy which supports each child’s well-being. We recognise that the children’s language experience varies considerably and so give valued time, plan for and explicitly teach oracy, as they not only learn to talk, but learn through talk. We aim to identify any language delays swiftly and take the appropriate action through the WellComm and NELI programmes. Oracy not only improves academic outcomes but is a life skill to ensure success beyond school, in life and future employment.
Through early identification, we aim to remove barriers to learning, so that all children access the curriculum to reach their full potential as they ‘Grow in Faith, love and Learning’. We aspire for our curriculum to enable our children to develop their cultural capital, self-regulation, knowledge, understanding and skills across all areas of learning and development, so that they flourish and achieve their Early Learning Goals. Hence, our provision is adapted effectively to meet the needs of all learners, so that they thrive and succeed from starting their Ealy Years Journey.
Early Years Team
Our Early Years Team have high expectations in line with The Early Years Framework and the enhancement of skills for learning is achieved through a well-resourced, stimulating and engaging environment, that maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning. We foster a love of learning by ensuring that we capture and learn through the children’s interests as much as possible. Every opportunity is a learning opportunity!
Through working closely with all subject leads, our EYFS Lead has shared pedagogy and best practise, whilst developing curriculum maps, which detail a clear progression of skills from Nursery through to Y6. Ongoing EYFS updates and CPD ensure that all staff have a clear understanding of the EYFS Framework and the foundations of learning that take place within our Early Years.
Our Day and Environment
We carefully structure our day to balance short adult led learning, with longer child-led sessions. We ensure both approaches foster the characteristics of effective learning and produce deep level learning. We strive to foster excellent attitudes to learning by providing effective and timely adult interactions to ensure that learning is instantly captured and enhanced. We believe that high level engagement ensures high level attainment. Extended periods of play promote each unique child in our setting.
Our enabling environments and warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration right from the start, as in our motto ‘Let’s learn and explore as we play’. By following the children’s interests and ideas, we adapt our provision effectively to the children’s needs and interests. Thus, fostering a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school.
Our children are taught by a PE specialist who engages and supports all the children with their gross and fine motor skills.
Our key purpose is to ensure that children are ready for the next phase of school life, making at least good progress from their starting points and are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1. We focus on ensuring that all children have developed a sound base of early reading skills and phonics which gives them the foundations for future learning, especially in preparation for them to become confident and fluent readers. Our children love reading and being read too, it’s embedded in our school day. Thus, our School Mission of ‘Growing together in Faith, Love and Learning is at the core of our Early Year’s Curriculum and is driven by our high aspirations for all children to achieve and succeed.
Through ‘Growing together in Faith, Love and Learning, our knowledgeable staff, implement an ambitious and well-sequenced, inclusive curriculum that meets the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Our literacy-rich curriculum provides the foundations, ‘building blocks’ of learning to all children.
From their initial meetings with the children, the staff assess what the children know, understand and can do to plan and deliver a well-balanced curriculum, which is informed by the children’s next steps in learning and their dispositions to learning and interests.
Each half term, our EYFS staff introduce a new theme/ inspiration to provide inspiration for learning, whilst providing the flexibility for children to follow their own curiosity, interests and needs. Teachers use carefully selected, high quality texts, which links reading to the wider curriculum. These ensure that the children are being exposed to inclusive, diverse and new texts which inspires the children’s curiosity to learn.
Quality adult Interaction is the fundamental driving force to move children’s learning on, as they communicate and model language, show, explain, demonstrate, explore ideas, encourage, question, provide a narrative for what children are doing. Our Early Years staff facilitate and set challenges, through group work, activities and planned and child-initiated play.
Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have direct teaching during the day. The timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children. These sessions are followed by small, focussed group work. This means the teacher can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback. This strongly impacts the acquisition of new learning.
Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ through ‘play,’ throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in within continuous provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside environments and equal importance is given to learning in both areas. Thus, through their independent application of learning through ‘play’ the children are given a deep body of knowledge that is retained and can be applied.
Communication and Language
Oracy is at the forefront of everything that we do. We give valued time, plan for and explicitly teach oracy, as our children not only ‘learn to talk but learn through talk’. We enrich our curriculum through our ‘Word of the day’ and creating language topic webs to enrich all areas of the curriculum. Children are therefore given regular opportunities to develop their oracy to become articulate talkers, active listeners, and confident speakers in a range of settings.
In Nursery, the WellComm speech and language toolkit is used to screen, highlight areas of concern in language, communication and interaction development in order to ensure early targeted intervention. After assessment, a profile is drawn up for each child and The Big Book of Ideas provides focused teaching and intervention activities to meet individual needs. This is continued into Reception, where the Nuffield Early Language Intervention is used to ensure that ongoing speech and language needs are met. Pre-consultation meetings are undertaken following parental consent with Wigan Speech and Language Team. Early Years Staff also use resources from Wigan SALT (e.g. Keys to Communication and ELKLAN strategies and activities).
Personal, Social and Emotional Development & Physical Development
Our children’s Personal, Social and Emotional development and Physical Development (healthy lifestyles) is promoted and embedded within our Early Year’s curriculum. Our first theme in both Nursery and Reception each year celebrates the uniqueness of each child and what makes them special. Through our ‘literacy-rich’ curriculum and our Catholic Values, children are taught the language of feelings through our whole school Zones of Regulation approach. From meeting the Colour Monster in Nursery to learning about when the Colour Monster goes to school. We follow the Life to the Full ‘Ten Ten’ programme, which is underpinned with a Catholic faith understanding that our deepest identity is as a child of God. It’s spiralled approach to learning, includes teaching about personal health, physical and emotional well-being, relationships, the dangers of social media. Children enjoy a wide range of experiences to develop their physical development and emotional literacy, including Growing Together in Zones of Regulation Workshop, yoga, mindfulness, PE lessons taught by a specialist teacher, half-termly physical challenges based on the fundamental movement skills and high-quality provision in outdoor learning.
In Nursery, the children meet their Y6 Buddy in the Summer Term. Throughout the year in Reception our Year 6 Buddies help to settle the children into school life, play at lunchtimes and take part in school events whilst looking after their Reception Buddy. This nurtured bond between the Y6 child and Reception child, ensures that our children become a happy, valued member of our St. Bernadette’s family.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and our purpose is to ‘grow a love of reading’ right from the start of our children’s learning journey at St. Bernadette’s. Our children are immersed in a literacy-rich environment which fosters our love of reading. Children enjoy reading books for pleasure and regular quality Storytime.
In the EYFS we have our core texts and ‘Reading Spine’texts. These are read and revisited throughout the year. The spine is a core of books that create a living library inside our children’s minds. It is a store of classics and essential reads that help children engage at a deeper level and enter the world of the story. The aim is to expose children to a variety of books which not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their oracy, vocabulary and comprehension. Central to this is exposing children to books from a range of cultures different to their own in Shevington. These books are embedded in our provision through activities, story sessions and on display for children to access independently. Through this, children begin to internalise new vocabulary, language patterns, begin to retell stories and experience lives which are different to theirs. Thus, giving the children a range of rich reading experiences.
Children are encouraged to read at home and are listened to regularly in school. They are given books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers. Alongside these the children are given a ‘Love of Reading’ picture book each week to share at home. Throughout their Early years Journey, we encourage the children to engage in whole school reading initiatives and opportunities. In the Autumn Term, all children and parents were invited to come and join Shevington Library. We also attend the library for fun filled events lead by Wigan Library services and have Mystery Readers come to read with us.
Parents are involved and engaged in supporting their child to learn to read from our Initial New Starters meetings, Afternoon Tea Welcome Meeting in September, to our Growing Together in Reading & Phonics workshops throughout the year, weekly Class Dojo Growing Together Newsletter and comment in their Reading Records. We also provide time for our Year 6 Buddies to come and share books with our Reception children, whether that’s a book from our book corner or hearing them read their own reading book.
The Foundations of Phonics, (Phase 1)
Phase 1 phonics is taught in our Nursery through daily speaking and listening activities that are ‘well matched to children’s developing abilities and interests’. These draw upon observations and assessments planning for progression and identifies children who need additional support, for example to discriminate and produce the sounds of speech’. Our rich and varied environment supports the children’s language learning through Phase one both indoors and outdoors.
Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds concentrates on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts Reception class. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects, however at St Bernadette’s we focus on aspects 1-6 so the children are prepared for Sounds Write Initial Code in Reception. Each aspect contains three strands: Tuning in to sounds (auditory discrimination), Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing) and Talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension).
In the Summer Term, the Reception staff set the children up for the Initial Code, by teaching them the behaviours for learning/drills for Sounds~Write in mini-Sounds~Write sessions.
Sounds~Write DfE Validated Systematic Synthetics Phonics Programme
Following comprehensive training in the pedagogy and practice of teaching Sounds~Write, all Reception Staff are trained in Sounds~Write. Over the Reception year we work on the Initial Code of Sounds ~Write and whole class phonics lessons are taught by class teachers, as part of quality first teaching. To enable children to ‘keep up’ and not ‘catch up’, interventions are delivered to targeted children, both within the phonics lesson and by our Teaching Assistants outside the lesson, through short and concise sessions. Diagnostic assessments are initially undertaken to score a baseline and ongoing assessments of units are undertaken to identify any sound gaps, monitor progress and inform planning and intervention. All children are given at least one decodable book each week that matches our Sounds~Write phonics programme and parents and carers are encouraged to listen to their child re-read this book at least four times a week. Teachers ensure that children practise their reading of decodable books to support them to become confident and fluent readers, through weekly reading sessions and targeted individual reading sessions.
Writing is embedded in all areas of the curriculum. Children are praised and encouraged from the first marks they make, so that by the end of their Reception journey they are confident to use all the language and phonics skills they have learnt to express their ideas. From starting to mark make in their ‘Squiggling Books’ in Nursery to their ‘Writing Books’ in Reception. Every mark matters! Gross and fine motor skill development is at the forefront of developing these skills.
A comprehensive Mathematics curriculum is taught and then embedded through the wider curriculum, ensuring that children in Early Years develop firm foundations to become ‘expert’ mathematicians. Staff are confident and knowledgeable about the teaching of early mathematics. We believe that Maths (as all subject areas) must be purposeful and connected to real life situations for children to learn. Children are supported to develop long-term knowledge, through careful planning of continuous provision that links to direct teaching, and adults providing a narrative to mathematical play.
We draw upon the NCTEM Mathematical Fluency, White Rose Maths planning and supplement this with MASTERING Number sessions to extend and deepen learning in Mathematics. To support mathematical fluency, revisiting and repetition are crucial for long- term memory. Our children learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives and pictorial structures and representations which are then rehearsed applied and recorded within their own child-led exploration. To support their children’s learning at home we share our weekly ‘Number of the Week’ poster and activities linked to our learning.
We are always striving to provide a high-quality Maths curriculum. We have worked with the North West Early Years Maths Hub to enhance our understanding of Early Mathematical Fluency and progression. We also completed Action Research Cycles on developing maths in everyday routines. This year we are working with the Northwest Three Maths Hub to develop our CPD and provide a high-quality Maths Curriculum. Alongside this we are working on the NCTEM Mastering number programme.
Wider Curriculum – Understanding the World & Expressive Arts and Design
Our wider curriculum is taught through the learning areas; ‘Understanding of the World’ and ‘Expressive Arts and Design.’ EYFS staff have a sound understanding of how ELG’s feed into the National Curriculum through our robust planning and CPD opportunities. In reverse, colleagues throughout the school are also aware of the key ELG’s that link to each foundation subject and the progression of the subject.
Children have access to a high-quality learning environment covering all the required areas of learning. Staff are skilled at asking questions that encourage children to think more deeply about their learning, to extend their use of language across the curriculum and to make connections to embed new learning. Regular opportunities are planned to reinforce new learning and for staff to check understanding.
Exciting, purposeful, and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. For example, building a boat for their favourite toy enables them to think like a ‘Scientist’ and ‘Engineer’ as they explore a range of materials and test out their own ideas.
Building further on our oracy focus, children are encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology in foundation subjects, and such vocabulary is modelled, both verbally and orally, by supporting practitioners.
Children have access to a high-quality learning environment covering all the required areas of learning and which supports our ‘literacy-rich’ curriculum and builds upon our children’s interests and needs. Our environment is a place where we encourage children to feel safe, take risks, and ‘Explore and Learn as they play’, whilst applying and acquiring new knowledge and skills. All resources are carefully chosen and areas well-planned to scaffold and build on learning, with clear progression from Nursery to Reception, through the Early Learning Goals. This draws upon staff knowledge of child development and their current cohorts needs.
Within the environment, staff are skilled at asking questions that encourage children to think more deeply about their learning, to extend their use of language across the curriculum and to make connections to embed new learning. Regular opportunities are planned to reinforce new learning and for staff to check understanding.
Our Calm Room gives children the opportunity to develop their senses and emotional regulation, through a calm, multi-sensory space when required.
To enhance our well-planned Early Year’s curriculum, children are given enrichment opportunities to ensure that they experience ‘awe and wonder’ of the world in which we live (through visitors and trips). Thus, preparing them for future success and prepare them for future success in their learning journey.
Assessments are relevant, purposeful, and not time consuming, leading to improved outcomes for children. Our assessments are about noticing what children can do and what they know. Then planning for their next steps in their learning, and where children can be challenged through our ambitious curriculum. Floor books and our ‘Wow Moments’ floor books allow staff to record key learning and to note wow moments. Practitioner knowledge of their children is central to all of our assessments, informed by Child Development Matters Non-Statutory Guidance and the Statutory Early Learning Goals.
Intervention – ‘Catching Up’
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we have a range of additional intervention and support for children who may not be reaching their potential or are showing a greater depth of understanding and need further challenge. Intervention is crucial and happens daily so that gaps are plugged, and children are not left behind (‘Keeping Up’). Our intervention groups (‘catching up’) are fluid and focus on a range of skills from phonics, reading, gross/fine motor skills, speech and language using the NELI programme and basic maths skills.
Our children with SEND Needs have One-page profiles and bespoke plans, as their learning is planned carefully to ensure that they make ‘small steps’ in their development. Parents, school and outside agencies work together to provide the best outcomes for each individual child.
Parental partnership is at the heart of everything that we do in Early years. We have strong relationships with parents and families, to ensure that children are happy and make the best possible progress in their learning. From their initial visits to our New Starter programme of events, we ensure that all families receive a warm welcome and get to know us, as well as we get to know them and their children. We welcome our families into our school family at our New Starter Meetings.
Our ‘Welcome to Reception/Nursery Days’ in the first week of school, where the children come to school in smaller groups, allows us to continue to build upon those initial relationships we started on our ‘Moving up Days’. Our Afternoon Tea party in September, Nursery Keyworker events, Growing Together Workshops and Parents Evenings throughout the year, enable us to support parents and give advice on how they can help their child in their learning and development.
Our Class Dojo allows us to share our weekly learning journey together and as we share activities and video’s to help support their child’s learning. This also enables parents to receive and upload photographs and comments of learning and development from both home and school. Parents are successfully encouraged to contribute to their child’s learning journey, through capturing and sharing ‘wow’ moments which are celebrated in school. Regular meetings with parents ensure that all parents make valuable contributions to their child’s education.
Our SLT and EYFS Subject Lead ensure that they keep abreast of the changing world of Early Years theory, research and practice and adapt it to our St. Bernadette’s way, so that every child receives the best Early Years experience and education. Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the EYFS Subject Lead ensure that we have a good working EYFS action plan which feeds into our School Development Plan. Working in Partnership with other EYFS Subject Leads from local school, ensures that we work together to share good practise and develop in our ever-changing world.
As an Early Years Adopter school this enabled us to gain valuable insight and practise into the changes for the new EYFS Framework in September 2021. The EYFS Subject Lead ensures EYFS staff develop good subject knowledge and receive CPD specific to Early Years to develop their practice. For example, through our Yearly Early Years Inset, which is adapted to the priorities identified within Early Years on our School Development plan and through regular EYFS Workshops lead by the EYFS Subject Lead.
As part of the St. Bernadette’s’ family, as the children ‘Grow in Faith, Love and Learning’, they finish their Early Years Journey as well rounded, happy and confident little learners who are ready for the next stage, as they transition into Y1. They are independent, active and self-motivated little learners, who know what is expected of them. Their positive attitudes to their learning, show that they take on challenges/risks with increased resilience. They know that making mistakes is an essential part of their learning. They are proud of their achievements and those of their friends. .
By investing time from the start, in ensuring that routines are well embedded, and expectations of children’s behaviour are high, our children behave very well. They develop high levels of personal, social and emotional skills, as they learn to manage feelings, self-regulate, make positive choices whilst building strong relationships with their teachers and peers. Through developing their fundamental physical skills, they are physically competent and have a good understanding of living a healthy life.
Our ‘literacy-rich ‘curriculum grows their ‘love of reading’ and through our Sounds~Write programme they learn to read and write words and simple sentences with increasing speed and fluency. Across all areas of the curriculum, they develop adventurous language and use this independently in their play. Most children achieve their Early Learning Goals, particularly in Literacy and Maths, representing high achievement from on occasions low starting points. They are growing into little mathematicians who have mastered good early number skills. The children enjoy their learning and the participate eagerly and enthusiastically. They show good attention and listening skills, both in teacher led activities and whilst in continuous provision.
As a result of our high-quality Early Year’s curriculum implementation, our children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds and children with SEND, achieve well, from their individual starting points. Our children generally enter our Nursery setting working below the expected level of development (within Birth to 3 Months). However, our children leave our EYFS having all made progress, regardless of their starting point and the majority of children achieve their Early Learning Goals. Our percentage of pupils achieving GLD was above National at the end of Reception (73.7% of our children achieved GLD (Local 65.1% & National – 62.1%).
Thus due to the creative, stimulating environment we provide, by the end of the Foundation Stage our children flourish and develop into confident, motivated and independent learners, who understand right from wrong and are ready for the next stage of their learning journey as Writers, Mathematicians, Scientists, Historians, Artists, Musicians and Geographers.
We measure progress and children’s learning across the year through formative and summative assessments which are based on the teacher’s knowledge of the child.
Prior to children starting, our team spend time getting to know each child’s Learning Journey so far. By speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and reading previous learning journey’s they gain an understanding of the whole child and where they are at.
During the first half term, all staff use ongoing assessments, observations and conversations with the child and each other to develop a baseline assessment. This identifies each child’s individual starting points in all areas so we can plan experiences to ensure progress. The following baseline assessments are also carried out.
The RBA (Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment):
This assessment focuses on ‘Language, Communication and Literacy,’ and ‘Mathematics.’ The purpose of this is to show the progress children make from Reception until the end of KS2.
In Nursery, the WellComm speech and language toolkit is used to screen, highlight areas of concern in language, communication, and interaction development in order to ensure early targeted intervention. After assessment, a profile is drawn up for each child and The Big Book of Ideas provides focused teaching and intervention activities to meet individual needs.
NELI (Nuffield Early Language Intervention):
NELI is an evidence-based oral language intervention for children who show weakness in their oral language skills and who are therefore at risk of experiencing difficulty with reading. The assessment informs us if the child is at expected for their age or requires intervention from trained NELI practitioners.
All ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children and excessive paperwork. Practitioners draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements through discussions with other practitioners, photographs, and physical examples such as a child’s drawing / making. Some observations are uploaded and shared with the supporting parents and carers and examples – Star Moments recorded on Dojo.
Sounds~Write diagnostics (at the start of the year) and ongoing assessments are carried out using every half term to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ where possible.
Assessments are completed three times per year and shared with parents, whereby the Class Teacher updates the progress children have made. In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where teacher judge whether the child has met each of the 17 ELG’s. They will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected.’ Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers, have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher.
The judgments of our school are moderated with other schools in our Local Authority. The EYFS Subject Lead also works together in partnership with other schools collaborate and share best practice.
EYFS Nursery Curriculum
KEY EYFS DOCUMENTS
RECEPTION BASELINE INFORMATION FOR PARENTS
Click on the links below