Early Years Provision
The curriculum in the Early Years Department
The Early Years Department works under the broad remit of Every Child Matters, and follows the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory framework. We are fully supportive of the 4 main themes of the EYFS, and strive to operate according to the overarching principles enshrined in this document. These 4 themes are:-
- A unique child
- Positive relationships
- Enabling environments
- Learning and development
The broad principles under which we operate are described more fully in our Early Years Policy.
We seek to adhere to all the principles of the EYFS framework. This does not prescribe a particular teaching approach, but recognises that effective teaching in the Early Years requires skilled use of a teaching repertoire which responds appropriately to the age and needs of the children being taught.
The revised EYFS framework includes the following definition of teaching from Ofsted’s Early Years Inspection Handbook 8:
‘Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term that covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language; showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas; encouraging, questioning, recalling; providing a narrative for what they are doing; facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment adults provide and the attention given to the physical environment, as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations.
Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do, as well as taking account of their interests and dispositions to learn (characteristics of effective teaching and learning), and how practitioners use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.’
Although some of the practices outlined in this definition are not appropriate for learners at the earliest stages of development, the child focussed, needs led, flexible and responsive approach it describes are very much at the heart of our practice here at Rosewood. This is what we refer to as the SCRUFFY approach (Student-led, Creative, Relevant, Unspecific, Fun, Facilitated by You).
In addition to the EYFS framework, Rosewood School has adopted a Key Skills approach to curriculum delivery throughout the school, in order to meet the very specific learning and developmental needs of our pupils. Our ImPACTS Curriculum covers 5 Key Skill areas and provides detailed assessments and profiles for each child in each Key skill area alongside a supporting curriculum for each area. The curriculum is delivered in such a way that these Key Skills are addressed through all areas of learning and development. The 5 Key Skill areas are:-
- Cognitive Skills
- Physical Skills (Gross and Fine motor)
- Personal, Social and Emotional Wellbeing (Self-help and Self Advocacy)
- Environmental Control (EC)
These link into the Areas of Learning and Development for the EYFS. The 5 Key Skill areas in ImPACTS are broken down into strands (currently 46 in total). 10 of these will be addressed via each child’s Learning Intentions Profile (IEP), once these are in place. However, we want to encourage learning across the whole breadth of the curriculum as part of our Scruffy approach.
Schemes of work for Routine and Essential learning opportunities as well as regular group sessions identify all the strands from ImPACTS covered by that activity, and ensure that opportunities are offered for learning from each strand for every learner every week. Additionally, the Schemes of Work identify the Areas of Learning from the EYFS which are covered. As learners at Rosewood are working at the earliest stages of development Communication and Literacy are combined as are Understanding the World and Mathematics. Neither Mathematics nor Literacy will therefore appear on the planning or timetabling as separate sessions for Early Years’ learners.
School based Assessment (including ImPACTS)
Prior to school entry all pupils receive a home visit during which information is gathered about the child and their needs in a ‘My Unique Child’ booklet. Where possible some of this information is gathered from families ‘One and Only documents’.
On School entry, pupils are assessed using our ‘My Observation Notes’ booklet, which is linked to ImPACTS. The observations cover their interaction, visual, listening, feeling, smelling, taste and physical skills and responses. These observations are used to inform the school’s assessments and profiles in the 5 Key Skill areas which comprise the school’s ImPACTS assessment. This helps to establish each pupil’s current abilities and to identify the next steps for learning. Additionally class teams begin to identify the Individual Involvement and Well-being Indicators for each child, which will help to identify high levels of learning and the contexts within which these occur.
Once the initial assessment has been completed, an I.E.P. is drawn up for the learner in liaison with the multidisciplinary team, identifying 10 priority learning intentions. Each pupil has 3 Communication targets, 2 Personal, Social and Emotional targets, 2 Physical Skills targets, 2 Cognitive skills targets and 1 Environmental Control target. The Key Skills may be worked on in any session, and progress towards individual targets is recorded on ‘Observations of my Learning Journey’ sheets, alongside any other noteworthy observations. Additional recording sheets are used for specific activities such as intensive interaction, ACA, looking or listening to ensure that the fine details of observations can be noted and shared.
The first scores recorded on ImPACTS for each child additionally provide a base-line from which individual progress can be tracked over time. This will usually be undertaken during a child’s time in the Nursery. We do not undertake a separate baseline assessment at the beginning of Year R, as we already have a very detailed shared understanding of our children’s learning needs.
Photographic and video evidence of each pupil’s learning is collated using Dojo – an online system for storing and sharing media safely with families. Families are also able to share video of children’s learning and experiences from home.
Children’s successes are celebrated ‘in the moment’ with the learner, and are shared with families via Class Dojo, the home school book, telephone calls or in person. Particularly significant achievements are celebrated with the presentation of a certificate to take home.
All children attending Rosewood School will be entitled to an ‘Education Health and Care (EHC) plan’. This may be in place before a pupil joins the school, in which case it will be reviewed at least 6 monthly until the child reaches the age of 5. For those children who do not have a plan in place, it will be the role of the Nursery teacher to support the family through the process; completing an application for an EHC plan, providing observational and assessment information for the nominated ‘assessment co-ordinator’ and Education Psychologist, and checking the draft plan before it becomes final. Parents are involved at all stages of this formal and statutory process.
Children’s wellbeing is paramount, and, particularly whilst new children are settling into the school environment and beginning to develop relationships with their key carers, PSED will take precedence over all other areas of learning and development.
Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met and when they have positive relationships with the adults caring for them. EYFS Statutory Framework
Children joining the Nurseries undergo a period of detailed assessment from the multidisciplinary team. Learners are constantly being observed as they respond, interact and play, and these observations are recorded and shared within the team, in order to comprehensively assess children’s current skills and abilities. This will contribute to a full ImPACTS assessment when learners have been in Nursery for about 6 months. At this stage learners will have their first IEP drawn up. Observations of these learners continue to inform adult practice and the learning opportunities and challenges offered to children.
Communication is a priority for all learners at Rosewood, and Nursery children will experience warm, highly attentive, responsive and interactive relationships with the adults who play with them throughout their time in school. The school’s multidisciplinary team, including a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and a conductor work in conjunction with class staff to devise active therapy programmes and positioning strategies for each child. These programmes and positions are incorporated into the child’s Nursery day.
Rosewood Nursery children attend part time, up to a maximum of 15 hours each week. They therefore have less time to access all areas of learning outlined in the EYFS framework. The Nursery curriculum consequently focuses strongly on the three prime areas identified as priorities for younger children in the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Guidance (para 1:7) These areas are;
Personal Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
Communication and Language (CL)
Physical Development (PD)
The Nursery timetable is colour coded to identify parts of each session which allow for focused activities in each of these areas, although in reality children will be learning in all these areas most of the time.
Because of the age and stage of learners in our Nursery classes, they will not be following a whole class timetable, but rather will be encountering the full range of Areas of Learning delivered by skilled adults (predominantly their Key person) through the course of their Nursery sessions. As for all young learners, the Prime Areas of Learning (Personal Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development) are the major focus. These are interwoven into the fabric of Nursery practice, and will not be delivered as isolated areas of learning.
Children’s well-being is constantly being monitored, and we also have individual well-being indicators for this. Improving low levels of well-being will take priority over all other areas of learning.
We are following our Scruffy pedagogy and seeking to help all learners achieve level 5 Involvement irrespective of the session or interaction they are part of.
Sessions are therefore very fluid, with adults responding to the needs of individual learners, and maximising the learning opportunities afforded by every part of the day. Our planning and the careful use of adult directed learning opportunities ensures balance over time.
Structure is provided within the Nursery sessions through use of routines such as ‘Hello’, snack and lunch times, and bathroom visits. These are important learning times for our children, and all have schemes of work to support them. Classes have access to the specialist resource areas in school such as the Hydro pool and Multisensory room, and these sessions are also timetabled into the Nursery week. Although teachers create a daily plan of learning opportunities, these are, of necessity, extremely likely to be adapted to changing needs as the sessions progress. There are opportunities during the week for learners to engage with whole class, small group and individual sessions.
Class teams work closely with members of the school’s therapy and medical teams, and the school’s family link worker, as well as with external support agencies who are involved with learners, so there are often additional adults supporting learners in the Nurseries.
There is an open door policy for families of learners in the EY department. As well as supporting their young child as they transition into school, there will often be family members in Nursery dropping children off or collecting them, observing particular activities such as hydro sessions, working alongside a physiotherapist, or attending appointments in school. Supporting families at the start of their child’s school days is an important priority for us, and is done in conjunction with the School’s family link worker.
Children in year R continue to follow all the guidance provided in the EYFS as well as working on Rosewood’s ImPACTS curriculum. Children attend full time, so are able to access a wider range of activities each week. The primary approach continues to be play based responsive interactions between learners and adults. Sessions continue to be informed by our Scruffy pedagogy and are responsive to the needs and interests of learners. Involvement and well-being indicators help adults meet the learning and care needs of each child as these fluctuate throughout the day.
Individual opportunities for play are built into every day, as well as frequent opportunities for intensive interaction. Learners continue to have Key people, who form special attachments with them, but most children are likely to be confident enough by this stage to work with all the adults in their team. Their Key person continues to form an important emotional anchor for them, and will also act as their advocate when they are being supported by less familiar adults.
Close working with families and the wider multidisciplinary team continue to be of paramount importance to ensure that the wider needs of the child and their family are met.
Class teachers adapt the Routine, Essential and Additional Schemes of Work to meet the needs of their particular learners, and these continue to offer at least 4 opportunities to meet every strand of the ImPACTS curriculum every week.
Although timetabling is still very individualised to ensure that every learner has their needs met, and sessions continue to be fluid, more activities are likely to happen in a group situation. Within these sessions ample opportunities are provided for children to lead their learning, and adults will continue to respond to their communications and interests. Children will have the opportunity to participate with a larger variety of sessions covered by the additional schemes of work and also with more enrichment or topic based activities.