The quality of education in the early years is good. Effective leadership and teaching ensure that pupils make good progress from their starting points.
Children enter the early years with skills that are well below or below those typical for their age, as reflected in their learning journeys. However, children make good progress in the early years. The proportion of children, including disadvantaged children, who reach a good level of development has risen over the last three years and is in line with the national average. Ofsted, Feb 2018
In the Foundation Stage (Reception year) children follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. There are seven areas of learning and development that are taught in early years. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, the prime areas, are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development.
Children are also taught in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design.
In planning and guiding children’s activities, staff reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice. 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.
Each area of learning and development is taught through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults. Activities are planned for, taking account of the children’s interests where possible.
"Children are well behaved, maintain good levels of concentration and listen well to each other in reflection time. They are kind to one another, take turns and share the equipment well. Both indoors and outdoors, they use equipment safely."
"The school provides a safe and caring learning environment. Teachers and support staff know the children well, and can talk confidently about every child’s strengths and areas for development."
(Ofsted, Feb 2018)
Assessment plays an important part in helping staff and parents to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. On-going 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, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations. At Bishop Creighton Academy we use Tapestry, an online learning journal, to record observations. These are then shared with parents who are encouraged to make comments on the observation and to also upload their own observations from home.
At the end of the year children are assessed against the Early Learning Goals as either Emerging, Expected or Exceeding. This is reported to parents in the annual end of year report. A child who has achieved at least ‘Expected’ in all of the Prime Areas as well as Literacy and Mathematics is classed as having a ‘Good Level of Development’.
"Detailed records are kept of what the children have achieved and their next steps in learning. These are used to provide the children with support so they can continue to improve their skills. Staff are skilful at modelling and correcting vocabulary and pronunciation. Detailed plans are put in place to support children who have areas of learning in which they need additional support, often in the areas of social and communication skills. This work is effective."
"The early years is managed effectively so that children have a good start to their education in the Reception class. All groups of children make good progress and almost all are prepared well for Year 1."
(Ofsted, Feb 2018)