Children start school in Reception in the year in which they turn five. In their first year they follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. There are seven areas of learning that follow on from the children's preschool experiences.
- 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.
- 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.
- Communication and language 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.
- 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 of 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 art 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.
Children engage in learning primarily through first hand experiences and each of the seven areas is implemented through planned and purposeful play with a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities. The children experience this exciting, creative and play-based curriculum both indoors and outdoors. Children are encouraged to become independent and active learners. We ensure that there is a balance of activities to inspire the children to gain a curiosity of the world around them, develop their social skills and be motivated and confident to try new activities. Learning and teaching is planned to enable the majority of children to achieve the Early Learning Goals for each area of learning by the time they move from the Reception into Key Stage One.
Assessment is ongoing throughout EYFS and is made through observation of children's learning and development as they take part in everyday activities and planned observations, where adults spend time on a specific task with an individual child or small group. At Biggin Hill we use Tapestry, which is an online learning journal, to record these observations together with supporting photographs. Parents and other carers can also contribute to the child's assessment profile and add comments and photographs. This is then a record of achievement comprising photos, pieces of work and observations about the child's development during their first year at school.
In EYFS at Biggin Hill we use the Learning Challenge Curriculum as a basis for our planning as it is built around the principle of giving children greater involvement in their work and their essential skills are developed, alongside Early Years Foundation Stage requirements. For example this year one of our questions was Is it always cold in winter? From this initial beginning we learned about migration and hibernation, animals that live in the Antarctic, ways to keep warm, freezing and melting and even thought about where Father Christmas might live using books as a basis for our work.
From September 2015 we will be introducing the new required ‘baseline check’ is to assess each child's level of development at the beginning of their formal schooling in order to measure how they've progressed by age 11. This will give us a picture of each child's initial skills, and indicate a child's ‘baseline’ abilities in very basic literacy, mathematics, reasoning and cognition (how a child understands and acts in the world). The check will be supplemented by teachers' broader assessments and observations of a child's development. By giving each child a baseline assessment when they first start primary school, we will not only have a clearer idea of how much progress the children are making but will also help us identify which children are likely to need most help to achieve their full potential.