Early Years Foundation Stage
Benedict Biscop CE Academy is recognised as one of the DFE Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs, supporting early years settings in Sunderland, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Gateshead, Newcastle and North and South Tyneside. At Benedict Biscop CE Academy we combine outstanding provision with outstanding practice, resulting in exceptionally high standards.
We see our children as curious individuals with the power and potential to develop and learn from their environment and the relationships they build with others. The school has been successfully received many awards and were revalidated in 2022 for the Early Years Quality Mark – recognising the strong provision, standards and high-quality leadership.
Our unique EYFS vision, based on our whole school believe that ‘all things are possible’, is focused on our belief that children are central to their own learning and development. By believing in them and providing them with well thought out opportunities they are able to achieve. We share with our children:
‘You are powerful…
You are curious…
You are rich in potential…
You are confident…
You are a researcher…
You are resilient….
You are competent….
All things are possible’
At Benedict Biscop CE Academy, we have a 90-place mixed Nursery and Reception open plan provision. Our provision is Reggio inspired. Leaders and staff have ensured that the environment they have created encourages the children to be curious, building upon the Reggio philosophy and effective early years practice. This means that we have intentionally and purposefully designed our learning environment to act as a ‘third teacher’. When creating our provision, we have tried to create a sustainable environment, using natural and real-life materials, which provoke exploration. Resources are chosen to be more open-ended and pupils should be able to access them when needed.
Our early years practitioners make effective use of Development Matters to support and scaffold children’s personalised curriculums towards the end of year expectations for our reception. Alongside this, Leaders have created a subject based curriculum that is coherently sequenced and progressional, ensuring that opportunities are still provided to ensure that pupils are ready to start the curriculum in Key Stage 1.
Early Year’s curriculum medium term linked to National Curriculum Subjects:
To ensure that learning is purposeful and meets the intended curriculum outcomes, staff will provide well planned ‘provocations’ within the continuous provision to challenge the children’s thinking, enable them to solve problems, investigate and experiment. On a daily basis, staff plan exciting opportunities which take account of the children’s interests. However, teaching remains firmly focused on ensuring the children learn specific knowledge and skills [mapped out in our curriculum plans, in line with the reformed statutory Early Years Framework 2021 and non-statutory Development Matters guidance].
The provision is evolving constantly, where children having greater ownership for their learning. The confidence and enthusiasm for learning is evident throughout the provision. Children are becoming more able to lead their own learning, to share their ideas and resources and where there were challenges, mostly this was resolved by compromise.
Discrete adults led sessions are used in areas such as English and Mathematics. Basic skills are then applied throughout the provision where there is an appropriate balance of adult led and child-initiated learning opportunities. Communication and Language, vocabulary and reading underpin all areas of the curriculum. Children experience a wide range of stories, rhymes and songs to help them develop their vocabulary and language is constantly modelled to children.
We have created distinct areas within our provision both indoors and outdoors. Inside we have three distinct spaces: the snug, the studio and the garden.
The snug is a space that replicates the home, and like a home, it has many rooms [areas] within which provide a different experience and opportunity. Children are able to express themselves through role play, learn about and develop relationships and community. Different cultures are celebrated. In our studio, pupils are provided with a range of creative mediums, resources and stimuli. The space provides an environment to develop fine motor skills and artistic techniques. There are also small discrete areas, providing environments for specific needs and interest i.e., our sensory room.
We know that some children will prefer to work at times indoors and at times outdoors. We have therefore created mini climates that provide an alternative experience. For example, our Garden area replicates the outside inside and our poly tunnel provision outside also provides an indoor provision outdoors. Within the garden space, the children are given the opportunity to explore and apply scientific concepts. They explore and engage with nature, developing a respect for the world and become more environmentally responsible.
In our outdoor environment we have a sand and water ‘beach’ experience, where pupils are able to design, construct and explore structure and textures. Children are able to explore materials and forces, developing an understanding of capacity and measures. This is extended further in our water wall. In the Forest our children are able to explore the natural world, observe changing seasons and gain a knowledge and understanding of the world around them. In the mud kitchen pupils use mathematical concepts in ‘recipes’, children live real life experience of being in a kitchen making ‘food’. The water and mud allow the children to do this whilst exploring a range of textures in a creative environment. The garden areas allow children to understand the world where they can identify and classify plants and animals. They learn about caring for our environment, growth and life cycles.
Staff ensure that learning is documented and to support a raised awareness of where pupils are working at, their interests and needs for all staff within the provision. Staff will document ‘the child’s voice’ and also keep a record of pieces of work completed independently within the provision. The EYFS team will then use this evidence to help inform assessments against the Early Years Framework.
When children are ready (completion of foundation for phonics) they begin phase 2 phonics and are given a book matched to ability to take home. School have chosen to follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised validated programme. Each lesson follows a cycle of review, teach, practice, apply allows children to do just that developing long term memory and visual clues for vocabulary. As the pupils progress within the phases children will move onto written application of sounds, extending into words and sentences. Pupils are then provided with numerous opportunities throughout the day, within the continuous provision to apply their skills in contexts relevant to them. This has been really successful in motivating pupils to write and increasing writing opportunities across the curriculum.
Children are then given home reading books carefully matched to their phonic ability; this allows children to apply their learned phonics sounds. In addition to daily phonics, in the afternoon, staff also follow the Little Wandle reading model, which means books sent home is also practiced in school as part of reading sessions with 3 discrete foci;
This is continued within into year 1 supporting continuity. To ensure that parents are supported with the introduction of phonics, upon entry to our foundation stage parents are provided with materials and workshops are run to stress the importance of basic skills.
As a school in Sunderland, a coastal city, we believe that it is important that our children have the opportunity to explore their locality and visit the beach from an early age. Once our pupils start Reception, we begin Beach School. Each week, pupils are be taken to explore the beach and the adjoining village of Seaham. Learning is taken from our Geography curriculum and the children’s interests. Children are involved in benefit risk assessments based on the tide, weather and time of day. Once at the beach the children will be provided with a range of provocations, whilst having the opportunity to explore physical and human features of the beach such as the sea, caves, harbour and rock pools.
Prior to starting at Benedict Biscop CE Academy, staff will arrange a home visits. This valuable opportunity allows us to meet our new pupils in an environment where they are most comfortable. Staff will spend 1:1 time with families getting to know the children and any individual requirements.
Transition into school will then be staggered to ensure children are happy and settled and ready to begin their journey in Early Years.
Guidance for parents – how can you help prepare your child for early years?
– Talk to your child about starting early years and about how it is an exciting experience, something he or she will enjoy.
– Encourage your child to play with other children and share toys with them.
– Children should be able to attempt to put on items of clothing such as coats and shoes and be able to ask for support if needed
– Encourage him or her to tidy up after him/herself.
– Encourage your child to talk clearly about everyday experiences
– Look at books together, talking about the stories and pictures.
– Give your child opportunities for drawing his or her own pictures and if you do teach your child to write his or her own name, please do not use all capital letters.
– Involve your child in counting and sorting everyday things.
– Allow your child to practise cutting out using small scissors with rounded ends.
– Encourage your child to use basic cutlery and drink from a cup
– Where possible, children should walk to nursery and not be reliant upon pushchairs
To view our admission policies click here.
Interested in finding out more?
If you would like to find out more about our curriculum. Please contact the school office by emailing BBinfo@nllt.co.uk and we will ask a member of staff to get back in touch a.s.a.p.