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Early Years

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Our Foundation Stage provides a secure, happy and caring environment in which every child can develop and learn.  We are passionate in our commitment to make a difference to each individual and believe that by providing purposeful and carefully planned play we enable children at all stages of development to thrive.  The early years of a child’s life are a vital stage, where the foundations for future development are established.  We aim to guide children to become good learners for life.  Through an appropriate balance of adult led and child initiated learning activities we challenge and support every child to be the best they can be.  Before the children enter our Reception classes, we work closely with preschool settings to get to know the children and ensure a smooth transition.  We begin to build relationships with parents at our two information evenings and our teddy bears picnic in July.   The class teachers and learning support assistants will be present at these events and will also visit the family in their home setting at the beginning of September.

The curriculum is carefully planned to ensure continuity and progression of skills in seven areas of learning.  All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.  The three prime areas reflect the skills and capacities all children need to develop and learn effectively and these are:

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development

There are also four specific areas through which the prime areas are strengthened and applied:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

In planning and guiding children’s activities staff must reflect on the different ways that children learn.  We believe that it is as important to respond not just to what children learn but also how they learn.  Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:

Playing and Exploring

Children investigate and experience things and ‘have a go’

Active Learning

Children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties and enjoy achievements

Creating and Thinking Critically

Children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.  These characteristics of engagement, motivation and thinking are not just for Early Years but are the learning values that are promoted throughout the children’s time at New Horizons through our learning heroes.

Learning Journey

Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process, it involves staff observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles.  All staff are involved in making meaningful observations for all children.  Observations are made electronically with an additional literacy and numeracy book.  The learning journey is completed electronically using 2Build a Profile.  This allows us to capture children’s achievements through photographs and link them to the Early Years profile. All adults, as well as parents, should contribute.  They are sent to parents electronically via email at least three times a year.