Early Years Department

The Early Years Department provides a secure and stimulating environment in which the children can explore and develop at their own pace with an adult supporting the children and their learning.

The Early Years Department comprises of two classes: Oaks and Firs, each with three members of staff and a further full time member of staff who works across the department. In both classes, there are children in Reception, Year One and Year Two. A key worker system operates, with every member of the staff team responsible for a small group of children each.

For the most part the classes are mixed with access to a wide range of activities available within the department however the children stay in their class group for greetings, tuck, dinner and home time as part of the daily routine.

During activity time each classroom has a mix of both ‘pupil and adult led' activities. A variety of equipment is available for the children in both rooms for them to explore and engage with at their own interest level.

During 'adult led' activities the children are withdrawn to work either one to one or in small groups on a structured planned activity. Children are grouped according to their development, need and learning style. Our ethos is to educate children through play. If they play with self-chosen activities and resources, they will engage in the learning process attentively. Children's individual interests inform weekly planning which also incorporates planned themes. This ensures that children are motivated to learn through carefully planned play opportunities. Play is a central part of young children’s learning. Through play, children explore ideas, feelings and relationships. They take risks, make mistakes and try things without fear of failure.

The children have access to a quiet space ‘the pod’ when working on personalised targets such as; IEP’s, speech and language, physiotherapy, sensory programs or occupational therapy targets.

We are really fortunate to have a large outside area and we believe strongly that having the opportunity to learn outdoors provides young children with one of the best possible environments in which to learn. Being outdoors enables our children to experience and learn from the natural world, our weather and the seasons.

"The best kept classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky"

Margaret McMillan (c1925)
Nursery Schools and the Pre-school Child NSA Publication

The outdoor classroom allows children the freedom to utilise effective modes of learning – play, movement and sensory experience. The Dell allows the children to enhance the development of motor skills (gross and fine); and develops co-ordination, balance and body awareness.

Our forest area provides the children with a controlled, safe environment which ensures that children taking part naturally learn to assess risk. Much of the learning for a child comes as a result of the opportunities they have for testing their own abilities in a real life context. All the areas of learning can be achieved outside while the children’s long-term social, emotional and mental health are being enhanced.

Some examples of the characteristics of effective learning can be seen in our fabulous outdoor areas.

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of all children from birth to five years old. The Early Years Foundation Stage is used to inform the planning of the department’s curriculum. Our staff assess each child’s progress which helps them to create the best learning foundation and ensures that every child is given the broadest range of high quality play experiences. The development of each child within the department is recorded in a learning journal which records milestones, and wow moments.

The EYFS is divided into seven areas of learning and development, all are important and inter-connected.

The areas of learning are:

Prime Areas

  • Personal Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
Specific Areas

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design
Our curriculum is based on the four themes of the Early Years Foundation Stage of learning. They are:

  • A unique child. We believe all children are unique, special and talented.
  • Positive Relationships. We believe children learn best when they feel supported and encouraged.
  • Enabling Environments. We believe in strong partnerships between home and school. We aim to create a learning environment where all children's experiences are valued and nurtured.
  • Learning and Development. We believe children learn and develop in different ways.
Additionally we endeavour to offer the children a range of trips and outings to enhance their opportunities outside of the classroom. These include fortnightly visits to the donkey riding sanctuary, theatre productions and topic related visits e.g. Sealife Centre, local shops, farms and the zoo.

Every week we have shared music lessons with Coppice reception class and Little Rainbows nursery.

We have excellent links with local schools and settings and work closely with other professionals, ensuring that each child experiences a smooth transition with the support they require.