Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage includes Nursery and Reception and at Hilltop, these children are currently in one classroom, called Yellow Class.

OFSTED’s judgement for the Early Years Provision at Hilltop is currently ‘Good’ (December 2018.) The inspectors made the following comments:

“Children are well settled and behaved.”

“Staff set high expectations.” 

“Parent partnership is highly effective.”

“Children make good progress and are enthused.”

At Hilltop, we provide a rich and vibrant Early Years curriculum. We want all our children to foster cultural capital and take part in exciting experiences. During the induction process, every child is baselined within the first few weeks of starting school. We then assess the children throughout the year through observations and play-based opportunities. 

We plan using the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework and deliver the curriculum to enhance independence, awe and wonder, and basic life skills. Likewise, the children can access the continuous provision involving a range of resources such as: sand, water, craft area, reading, construction, maths, role play, writing table, outdoors, exploration and investigation table and the colour of the week. 

Parent partnership is vital within the EYFS. At Hilltop this is strongly promoted through a weekly newsletter, a parents’ noticeboard, ‘WOW’ moments, meet and greet in a morning, workshops, parent evenings, class dojos and regular letters to ensure that each parent is kept up-to-date on their child’s learning and development. 

Areas of learning

The areas of learning in the EYFS are as follows:

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Personal, Social and Emotional Development in the EYFS supports children to learn to get on with others and make friendships, understand and talk about feelings, learn about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and develop independence. In Yellow Class there is an established routine where the children all feel safe and stimulated. 

Within the group we follow Jenny Mosley’s Golden Rules based around moral values. We have firmly embedded the following classroom rules: 

  • Listening ears 
  • Looking eyes 
  • Thinking heads
  • Speaking mouths and inside voices 
  • Walking feet 
  • Kinds hands
  • No toys from home. 

Alongside this, we support each individual’s mental health and well-being by encouraging turn taking, sharing and talking about their feelings and developing resilience. 

Communication and Language 

Communication is fundamental to children’s development. As children develop speaking and listening skills they are building the foundations for literacy and learning. 

The EYFS group use simple Makaton signs to help communicate with friends who find it difficult. They are able to sign for ‘milk’ or ‘water’ at snack time and to simple rhymes. The group are able to listen to stories with full attention, follow and respond to instructions and express themselves confidently. 

At Hilltop we support children to develop their speech and language skills by: 

  • Making eye contact 
  • Labelling objects 
  • Effective use of questioning 
  • Speaking clearly and calmly 
  • Listening carefully 
  • Giving plenty of time for the child to respond 
  • Repeating sentences back to the child 
  • Sharing ‘weekend news’. 

Physical Development 

Physical development in the Early Years is the process of developing a child’s movement, handling of objects, understanding of their own body, health and levels of self-care. 

Yellow Class participate in a PE session (Real PE) every Tuesday afternoon, where they experiment with different ways of moving, negotiating space well, jumping off an object and landing appropriately, adjusting their speed and running skilfully, changing directions. Some firm favourites in PE have been:

  • Yoga 
  • Taking risks on the large equipment 
  • Developing our ball skills with the Soccer Stars team 
  • Eggs in the basket 
  • Ring games including ‘duck, duck, goose’, ‘farmers in his den’ and parachute games. 

The group also know the importance of good health, diet and ways to keep safe. At Hilltop we are always encouraging independence and helping children to develop their manipulative skills. 

Our pupils also enjoy taking part in cookery opportunities, which also links in with PSED (confidence and exploration). For example, we have recently made the following: 

  • Jam tarts 
  • Gingerbread men 
  • Jam sandwiches
  • Loaves of bread 
  • Vegetable soup 
  • Fruit kebabs 
  • Animal biscuits. 

Literacy

Literacy covers speaking and listening and reading and writing. Literacy in the Early Years is particularly important for children as it gives them a head start in learning these essential life skills that they will use on a daily basis. 

Within the EYFS they are able to access a range of text (fiction, non-fiction, comics etc) freely in a cosy, quiet book corner amongst soft toys and cushions.

We also follow the Talk 4 Writing approach where the group enjoy creating memorable, meaningful story maps with actions. 

We do guided reading sessions on a Wednesday morning and structured handwriting sessions (Write Well) on a Friday morning, plus independent reading at least twice a week from the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme. We share sound cards and tricky words in line with the DfES Letters and Sounds programme. 

We also lead daily Jolly Phonics sessions, to help improve children’s vocabulary, reading comprehension and decoding skills. 

At Hilltop we encourage the children to access early writing opportunities through:

  • Playdough
  • Lacing thread
  • Scissor practise  
  • Writing lists 
  • Whiteboards 
  • Finger gym activities 
  • Tweezers/pegs 
  • Shaving foam.

Mathematics 

Maths in the Early Years includes both Number — where children will learn skills such as number recognition, counting and calculating — as well as Shape, Space and Measure, where children will begin to gain better knowledge about shape, size, weight, position, distance, money and time. 

Our Reception children follow the White Rose Maths guidance through play and exploring and active learning. Consequently, the group are familiar at using apparatus such as: numicon, unifix, counters and dice. 

Understanding the World 

We help our pupils to make sense of their physical world and their community, by giving them opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. 

We have provided a range of ‘awe and wonder’ opportunities, such as:

  • A walk to the local Church where we created our own stained-glass windows and discussed different places of worship
  • Visits from the police, fire service, a paramedic, a hairdresser and real owls
  • Completing age-appropriate games on the chrome netbooks
  • Science experiments such as: the alka seltzer rocket, growing our own grass, rainbow skittles, colouring carnations and swimming gingerbread men 
  • Celebrating the Hanukkah festival, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Bonfire night, Harvest, Pancake Day, Valentines Day and Mothers Day
  • Helping to raise money for Sports Relief and the Australian bush fires
  • Trips to Matlock Farm Park and The Tropical Butterfly Park. 

Expressive Arts and Design 

Expressive Arts and Design is used to develop a child’s imagination, creativity and their ability to use media and materials. Children do this in a range of ways including singing songs and making music, dancing, playing with colours and textures. 

Our Nursery and Reception pupils love constructing with the Kapla bricks, stacking both vertically and horizontally with a purpose in mind. They particularly enjoy Friday mornings, when we explore the different sounds instruments make and learn new songs. They were curious to find out what happened when colours were mixed and are now starting to use colours for a purpose. The EYFS work well as a team and play co-operatively as part of a group. 

Our pupils are also able to use the home corner freely where dressing up clothes, a play kitchen, pots and pans, writing materials, everyday technology, reels, cushions and dolls are available.