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Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Intent - The vision

At Holy Trinity Pewley Down (HTPD), we highly value the development of children as individuals, and know the importance of providing them with the skills, knowledge and understanding that they need to “embrace the future with hope and confidence”. Our aim in the EYFS is to build strong foundations, rooted in learning through play, so that the children go on to be active citizens of society, and happy, curious life-long learners.

Our children arrive in Reception from a variety of Nursery and Pre-School settings from across Guildford and beyond. We invest time in teaching children how to listen, speak, and meet our high expectations for behaviour by working together and being kind; it is a joy to welcome the youngest members of the HTPD community to the school, fostering their sense of belonging to something greater and beyond their own individual self.

We prioritise personal, social and emotional development, and communication and language within our carefully-planned curriculum, as well as developing children’s love of reading, writing and number. We are delighted to have an expert team of adults who can support the children as they learn through play and exploration within our enabling environment.

Our holistic EYFS curriculum maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking, which follow children’s interests and ideas. We value imagination and creativity, and seek to create enjoyment and fascination of learning through a vibrant, continuous indoor and outdoor provision, alongside weekly sessions at the Wild Place and half-termly visits to the local library, Holy Trinity, our partner church, as well as to other locations in the town.

Implementation - How we achieve our goal

The children learn through a balance of adult-led sessions and child-initiated activities. Our Reception timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching in maths and phonics every day. We also have PE and music lessons during the week, as well as Thoughtful Time and RE sessions, which usually take the form of a whole-class circle time where children feel empowered to use their voice to share what they think and believe.

When the children are not participating in these whole-class sessions, they have the opportunity to choose their own learning during ‘Discovery Time’. Our environment is carefully laid out so that children can choose where and how they would like to learn, taking responsibility to look after what they are using and managing their own risk within a safe and supported environment. We carefully resource our indoor and outdoor spaces so that children have the opportunity to free-flow between all of our areas, depending on their interests. We are fortunate to have a wonderful outdoor learning space, which includes a large sandpit, a ‘risky-play’ construction area, and a large covered outdoor classroom, the Rainbow Room. We embrace the outdoors in all weathers, ensuring that the children wear waterproof onesies and wellies during colder weather, and sunhats when it’s warm and sunny. A rainy day does not stop us going outside; it is an opportunity to jump in the puddles, use powder paint on the ground to watch the colours mix, transport water from the water butt to different places in our garden, and build a den that will keep us dry.

Adults spend focused time during the week with the children, giving children the chance to express an interest in something they would like to learn/do. For example, one child may decide that they would like to sew a cuddly toy, another might like to work together with their friends to plan a birthday party and make a big chocolate cake, whilst one may like to make a sandcastle in the sand pit. The adults help the children to engage with what they have chosen to do over a period of a few sessions or days, promoting sustained thinking and active learning, and providing enhancements to play where necessary. In this way, we ensure that the children have agency over their environment and can ensure that the provision leads to depth of learning across the curriculum. As well as using brilliant questioning, our skilled adults are quick to take on the responsibility of co-players, and use the power of play to extend children’s learning during their Discovery Time sessions.

Play is the highest level of child development. It is the spontaneous expression of thought and feeling. It constitutes the source of all that can benefit the child… At this age play is never trivial; it is serious and deeply significant

(Froebel in Lilley 1967:84)

Impact - How do we know our vision has come to fruition?

We really believe that the children’s time in Reception at HTPD is not just preparing them for Year 1, but that it is equipping them with the foundational skills and tools they will need as they continue to step out confidently into the world, making positive changes as they go. When we look at the children within HTPD, beyond EYFS, we see life-long learners. By supporting children in the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ (Playing and Exploring; Active Learning; and Thinking Creatively and Critically), we believe that we are giving children the best start in life.

We know that we cannot predict all of the different kinds of challenges that children will undoubtedly face in this complex and quickly changing world, but we can already see the ways that the excellent foundation that children build in Reception at HTPD – through facing challenges, learning how to learn, and taking responsibility – empowers children to respond positively to their unfolding futures.

Lilley, I. (1967) Friedrich Froebel: A Selection from his Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.