Our vision: Learn. Inspire. Achieve.
‘Children are nurtured from the outset and given exciting opportunities, which motivate them.’ Ofsted.
Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high-quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.
The Early Years framework sets the standards to make sure that children aged from birth to 5 learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. In 2021 the new EYFS framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage will become statutory for all nursery and reception settings. At Mount Stewart, we are currently an Early Adopter school of the new framework and have been using the new framework this academic year in preparation for September 2021. To support us with the delivery of the framework we refer to the Development Matters non-statutory curriculum guidance for the Early Years foundation stage.
At Mount Stewart Schools, we believe that children deserve the best possible start to their education. Our Early Years team strive to provide an environment where children feel safe, happy, supported and secure. We consider each child's interests, wants and needs so that they are ready to learn and achieve well. We are committed to providing a quality Early Years education that is; creative, challenging, active, and broad to develop a thirst and excitement for learning.
We believe that the Early Years are critical in children's development and that the EYFS builds a firm basis for future learning, development and independence. Therefore we educate the whole child and promote independence, curiosity, respect and resilience.
WE AIM TO:
Identify and value children's strengths, interests, and learning styles to develop confidence, respect, independence, and high self-esteem.
Develop and build solid relationships with our children and their families.
Cultivate children's attitudes to learning, self-motivation, curiosity, self-confidence and responsibility.
Nurture and encourage children's curiosity, reflectiveness, creativity and resourcefulness.
Develop children's responsive thoughts and ideas, and value their work, conversations and feelings.
Provide the highest quality learning experiences for all children. Learning that is exciting, creative, real, challenging, encouraging risk-taking and fun.
Provide the highest quality teaching and learning that considers the interests of the children, their developmental and relating needs, and allows them to make progress.
Support children's learning by providing them with first-hand learning experiences rooted in purposeful, resilient play.
Support the children in making the transition from their first stage of education to the next with confidence.
'The outstanding teaching and support from staff in the Early Years provision mean the majority of children make rapid progress to meet or exceed the early learning goals. As a result, the children are exceptionally well prepared to enter Year One.' Ofsted.
Foundation Stage Curriculum
In the Foundation Stage, we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). We support our children to become independent and collaborative learners by providing a range of activities and experiences. Through these experiences, we encourage children to take risks, discover and make links between their explorations. We also introduce and begin to embed our Values: Respect, Resourceful, Risk Taking, Reflective, Resilience, Responsive, Relating and Relationships.
Within the EYFS, there are seven areas of learning and development, with all areas of learning and development important and inter-connected. The areas are split into prime and specific. The prime areas of learning are fundamental to children's successful learning in the specific areas. They are vital as they lay the foundations for children's success in all other areas of learning and life:
Prime Areas of Learning
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
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 abilities.
'Children socialise well together and behave respectfully towards each other and staff. They know that the staff expect them to be kind and thoughtful, and they are!' Ofsted.
Physical Development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their coordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity and make healthy choices concerning food.
Communication and Language
Communication and Language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves, and speak and listen in various situations.
The specific areas provide the range of experiences and opportunities for children to broaden their knowledge and skills:
Understanding the World
Expressive Arts and Design
Specific Areas of Learning
Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Within the classroom, we encourage this with the use of Talk for Writing and daily stories. This is where the children can tell their own stories, which adult scribes, and then perform them to the class.
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 describing numerical patterns. We follow the CPA (Concrete, Practical and Abstract) approach in maths. It is a highly effective approach to teaching that develops a deep and sustainable understanding of maths in pupils. This approach is continued throughout the school.
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their past and present world, people, culture and community, and the natural world through opportunities to explore, observe, and find out about people, places, technology, and the environment.
Expressive arts and design involve enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. Providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through various activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology. All classes have music lessons delivered by Brent Music Service.
Children's learning is recorded in a learning journal and via Evidence Me, our online platform. These show examples of written observation, examples of mark-making, parent observations and evidence of learning across the Early Years Foundation Stage. Parents and children can log in and access learning journeys from home. We encourage parents to add their own 'WOW' moments, comments and observations of their children at home, which we regularly share with other professionals during moderation.
Special visits, family and friends
We enjoy welcoming guests and visitors from the local community into our classroom to make our learning more exciting and real. We love them to help us with creative projects, school trips, watch our infant nativity, parent learning sessions and parent learning assemblies, listen to us read, or play games with us. We also welcome parents to come into the classroom and share their skills and time with us.
We work closely with parents, which is encouraged from before our children start at Mount Stewart Schools. We have many transition events open to families, which enable us to get to know our families well. Teachers also visit children in their nursery or preschool settings and complete home visits before Mount Stewart.
We encourage parents to come into school through transition meetings, school lunches, picnics and open afternoons. Parents are always welcome to make individual appointments with the class teachers after school.
At Mount Stewart, we strive to cater for the individual needs and interests of our children. Children may choose from a wide and varied selection of activities:
Creating imaginative games in the role play
Sharing stories and books in the book camp.
Using a variety of construction toys to create interesting models and structures both inside and outside
Choose their mark-making tools and media to develop early writing and drawing skills
Get messy with sensory play such as snow, gloop and shaving foam
Making delicious creations in our mud kitchen
Paint, print and explore colour, shape, pattern and texture
Get creative with dough, collage materials and junk modelling.
Interactive learning on the whiteboard, iPads and laptops
Explore and investigate sand and water
Build dens and structures with loose parts outside
Make roads and ride the trikes and scooters on the infant's playground
Climb the frame, walk across the bridge and slide down the fireman's pole
We have large outdoor grounds, and children are encouraged to learn through investigating their environment, building confidence, resilience and independence. We provide children with waterproof clothing to get active and dirty and encourage children to bring in their wellies to use the outside space all year round.
Additionally, we teach our children about the importance of a healthy diet, keeping fit and being clean. We have a snack during the day where children are welcome to have a piece of fruit. Children bring in their water bottles, which are kept in the classroom and are accessible throughout the day.