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Early Years Policy

Early Years policy

Vision and values

At Farsley Springbank we aim to provide a caring nurturing environment where all children achieve their potential, becoming confident individuals and successful learners who can work collaboratively and communicate effectively. Through responsive and reflective teaching and a curriculum which is engaging, relevant, challenging and fun, our children are able to develop the skills they need to become lifelong learners and to have a love of learning. We promote the importance of respect and community and aim for our children to become responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society and show respect towards all others. We encourage our children to demonstrate resilience and perseverance when faced with challenge as it is our overarching aim for everyone at Farsley Springbank to ‘Be the best you can be’.  


The curriculum

The Early Years Foundation Stage refers to all children from birth to the end of the Reception year. Here at Farsley Springbank we cater for children who are in their Reception year, their last year within this stage, before they move into key stage one to continue their school career.


Within this year children follow the Early Years Framework as set out in the Development Matters document and Early Years Handbook. Our curriculum covers 7 main areas of learning which can be broken down further into 17 different areas of learning, all of which are interconnected and therefore equally fostered and valued throughout the children’s time with us.


Although all of these areas of learning are seen as important, there are three areas which are seen as particularly important as they support and underpin learning in all other areas. These three areas are known as the prime areas. Due to the fact that learning in these areas supports all future learning, teaching is particularly focused on these during the beginning of the Reception year, building upon all of the skills that children have learnt up until this point.


The prime areas of learning are as follows:

  • Communication and Language – Listening and Attention, Understanding and Speaking
  • Physical Development – Moving and Handling and Self care
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development – Making relationships, Managing feelings and behaviour and Self-confidence and Self-awareness


As the year goes on, more focus shifts to the remaining 4 areas known as the specific areas. The specific areas of learning develop essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully during the remainder of their school lives.


The specific areas of learning are as follows:

  • Literacy – Reading and Writing
  • Mathematics – Numbers and Space, Shape and Measures
  • Understanding the World – People and communities, The world and Technology
  • Expressive Arts and Design – Exploring and using media and materials and Being Imaginative


During the Early Years children also develop the skills of ‘how’ to learn known as the characteristics of effective learning. These characteristics teach children the importance of having a good attitude towards learning and nurturing their ability to ability to play, explore and think critically in order to achieve their full potential.


The characteristics of effective learning are as follows:

  • 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.


How we teach

Teaching in Reception happens through a variety of methods, each valuable in furthering children’s learning in a different way, catering to the different needs of the children and recognising how each child learns best.


The first method of teaching is whole class, adult led teaching. This method of teaching most resembles the teaching throughout the rest of the school. The main difference between Reception and other year groups is that our sessions are much shorter and more interactive. Children take part in whole class learning on the carpet for phonics, maths, understanding the world and story time every day. Every whole class session is carefully planned to address the needs of all children. It is essential that all children make progress and can access the learning during every session. Whole class teaching also helps to builder wider skills for learning including learning as a group, listening to the teacher and each other, taking turns to answer and maintaining behaviour and concentration.


The next method of teaching is adult led tasks and group work. Both teachers and teaching assistants work with all children throughout the week within one to one and small groups. These activities range from focusing on teaching new skills, addressing gaps in learning and providing additional practise and support in areas of particular need. All children will have access to at least one session of guided writing or maths per week and another one to one reading session.


Another method of teaching is adult initiated activities. Areas of provision around the classroom are enhanced to reflect the current topic being taught and the new skills that children are learning each week. Children’s interests are also used as a starting point in creating stimulating, meaningful and active play opportunities. Many opportunities in provision allow children to apply the skills that they have learnt during adult led learning, practising and consolidating these skills at their own pace so that they can apply them without adult support.


The final method of teaching is child initiated learning as supported by enhanced provision. A big part of learning in Reception is learning through play and this is why free flow time makes up such a large part of our time table. During this time, children are able to follow their own interests, explore the opportunities around the classroom through their play, and think creatively and critically alongside other children as well as on their own. Children learn best from activities and experiences that interest and inspire them and seeing peers engrossed in learning they love can be equally motivational. Playing with peers during free flow play is also when children are most likely to practise skills from the prime areas of the curriculum, learning to adapt, negotiate, communicate, discuss, investigate and ask questions. During child initiated play it is also important that adults continue to take an active role observing, modelling, facilitating and extending their play, ensuring that adult interaction positively impacts opposed to interferes in the learning already taking place. The interaction between the adult and child is essential as the adult’s response to children builds understanding and therefore guides new learning.


Getting the balance right between child and adult initiated learning is a balancing act across the year which often involves learning becoming more adult initiated as children near transition into key stage one.


How we assess

Assessment is an essential part of learning and development within the Early Years. It is through assessment that we as teachers build up a well-rounded view of each child’s strengths, areas for development and personal interests, allowing us to plan for and provide high quality learning opportunities that inspire, extend and support the learning of each and every child. We assess all children across all 17 areas of the early year’s curriculum. In order to assess across such a wide spectrum of skills we use a number of assessment strategies as outlined below.


Observation and electronic profiles

In Reception we complete assessments of children known as observations. At Farsley Springbank we complete electronic observations using ‘Tapestry’. Tapestry is a programme that allows us to take a photograph of a child and their learning, write up an observation and assign objectives from the curriculum to that observation all at the same time, using the same tool. Observations can be long or short depending on what sort of learning has been witnessed and the amount of detail in each observation will vary according to the type of learning that has been captured. Teachers gather observations of all children across all areas in order to build a picture of the skills, interests and behaviours of each child.



In Reception, less physical evidence of learning is gathered than in the rest of the school due to the practical nature of reception and also the ability of children to record during this early stage in their development. Where there is physical evidence of learning, it is catalogued in a learning journey (consisting mainly of art and topic based learning) a combined literacy and maths book (consisting of a mixture of adult led and child initiated writing) and an independent writing book known as a busy book.


Feeding back to parents and parent contribution

Feedback from parents and carers is a vital part of the assessment process. As teachers we only get to know the children in our care between the hours of 8.30am and 3.15pm Monday to Friday but children are learning all the time, from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed and no one knows them better than the parents and carers at home. In order to get the greatest benefits from the knowledge of parents and carers we ask for regular feedback from home.


Parent’s first opportunity to contribute to our knowledge of the children is through the ‘My Unique Child’ booklet sent to parents shortly after they have accepted a place at the school. Within the booklet parents are asked to discuss a range of questions covering health, behaviour and family. There are then a number of transition opportunities arranged before the summer holidays where parents can discuss their children further.


Additionally, one of the benefits of the tapestry programme used in school is that it allows teachers to share observations of children with parents on a regular basis. Shared observations can then be responded to by parents. In addition to this, parents are also able to send in their own valuable observations from home which capture a range of learning, some of which is not always seen inside school.


As well as using tapestry and sending in observations, parents also have the opportunity to approach and speak with staff every day at the beginning and end of the school day, attend two parents’ evenings, attend 3 open afternoons and take part in multiple parent workshops. We also encourage parents to give feedback and ask questions within the home learning and reading diaries or phone into school if they are not able to regularly pick up or drop off their child but would still like a regular dialogue with the class teacher. All of these opportunities give parents the chance to discuss important information about their children and their progress. We want all parents and carers to feel comfortable and confident discussing their children with us in school.


Data analysis and submission

Based on the observations gathered from all staff, feedback and observations sent in by parents and physical evidence catalogued in books, staff record levels of achievement (based on the ages and stages descriptions from the Development Matters document) half termly using the online system Otrack.


Regularly recording data allows teachers to identify patterns of attainment within the cohort and adapt planning to suit the needs of individuals and groups.

The first assessment recorded is at the end of the first autumn half term known as the baseline assessment and the final assessment is submitted during the final summer term. The final data set is assessed against the early learning goals and children are judged as being emerging, expected or exceeding across all 17 areas of the curriculum. Parents are regularly made aware of their children’s progress towards these goals and their final outcomes are shared through a detailed end of year report.



Monitoring and evaluation features highly in Reception and is an essential part of ensuring the best outcomes for children.


All data is moderated half termly by the Early Years Leader and further cross key stage, department and cluster meetings are held to moderate specific areas of the curriculum on a termly basis. Data is also shared with the wider SLT and governing body on a termly basis who have the opportunity to question outcomes and proposed actions in the follows term.


Lesson observations and learning walks are a regular occurrence and provide valuable feedback for enhancing the teaching and learning within the Reception classrooms. Planning and books are also scrutinised over the year by subject leaders and SLT.



All staff at Farsley Springbank School have a responsibility to maintain positive attitudes to diversity and difference and ensure that inclusive practice is delivered at all times. All children irrespective of gender, ability, ethnicity, culture or religion, and social circumstances have the opportunity to attain the school ethos and ‘be the best you can be’.


We strongly believe that early identification of children with additional needs is crucial in enabling us to give all children the support that they need. Sometimes this means working with other services and organisations, such as speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, school nurses etc. is essential to our practice in order to meet the needs of our children and at times we may need to share information with other professionals to provide the best support possible. In such cases parents will always be consulted first and involved in any discussion held with an outside agency.


The learning environment

The classroom is set up to reflect the needs of the children and therefore changes throughout the year as the needs of the children develop. However, the classroom is always arranged so that it contains a home corner, book corner, small world area, ICT station, literacy area, construction space, funky fingers station, maths area, managing me space for exploring feelings and emotions, arts and crafts area, malleable, sand and water station. It is important that there is a level of consistency within the classroom throughout the year so that children feel safe in their environment and can continue to learn using resources they are familiar with, as well as having opportunities to learn across the seven main areas of learning. In addition to the continuous provision stated above, the classroom is enhanced to promote learning in specific areas, engross the children in a particular topic and engage the children through their specific interests. As part of the enhancements children are also exposed to regular challenges that encourage them to practise certain skills and use certain strategies to problem solve and explore. All areas within the classroom are clearly labelled and allow children to self-access their own resources.


Learning outside is set up in a similar way with children having self-access to a range of resources across all 7 main areas of learning. The physical layout of the playground provides opportunities for gross motor skills including crawling, climbing, balancing and jumping, there is also a large range of equipment that further encourages gross motor development including skilled bikes, spinning top, steppers, stilts and body boards to name but a few. Other permanent features of the outdoor environment include a sand pit, mud kitchen, growing garden, bug hotel, small house and den building posts. Activities are set up outside daily to reflect the needs being targeted within the classroom so that children have access to a rich, well thought out provision whether they prefer learning indoors or out.



At Farsley Springbank we know the importance of a thorough transition process and have endeavoured to create a process that settles both children and parents into their new school as effectively as possible.


Not long after children have accepted their place at the school packs are sent home to parents including an induction booklet containing all the need to know information about the school and year ahead, important documents to be returned to the school before starting in September and a ‘My Unique Child’ booklet to be filled in and returned to school as a point for discussion at the home visits.


Next is the parent induction meeting where all the information in the starting school booklets is discussed in more depth and parents have the opportunity to ask any questions and take a tour of the school. At the parent induction meeting parents will sign up to a home visit with their new class teacher. During these short home visits, teachers will take the opportunity to ask any questions that may have arisen as a result of the ‘My Unique Child’ booklet and parents will have the opportunity to discuss any information they feel may be important to their child’s settling and learning in the future. During the home visit a second member of the early year’s team will take the opportunity to play with and make a bond with the child so that they feel they have someone they know on their first visit to the setting.


Shortly after the home visits are the stay and play sessions where children come into the setting with their parents. During the first stay and play session children often rely on their parents being there for support in the new environment, especially if they have not previously attended a nursery or have no familiar friends transferring from their setting with them. During the second stay and play session children are generally much more confident and parents are encouraged to step back from their children in order to let them start to bond with their peers and find their own feet in the classroom room.


The final stage of transition is the staggered entry where children start school over 3 different dates. Children who have never attended a nursery or are the only one from their nursery generally start school on the first start date as this gives them more time to acclimatise and feel comfortable in the setting before more children arrive. A second group of children then joins these children after approximately 2 days before the final group, usually containing siblings from further up in school, arrives to complete each class after another approximately 2 days. The whole process takes only a week but is regarded as best practise in terms of settling and not overwhelming the new children coming in.


Transition is also thoroughly planned for at the end of reception with teachers from Reception and Year 1 holding a number of meetings to discuss each child's development across the 17 areas of learning and plan for an effective, responsive and appropriate curriculum that will meet the needs of all children.


Health and safety

At Farsley Springbank we know that 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. In order to provide all of the above we follow the safeguarding and welfare requirements detailed in the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Guidance (2017) and in our school Safeguarding Policies. We provide a curriculum which teaches children how to be safe and manage risks effectively and also make sure that, as staff, we are good roles models at all times in our relationships within school, our attitudes to teaching and learning and our encouragement of healthy lifestyle choices.


In terms of intimate care, we encourage all children to be fully toilet trained before their start in Reception.  However, it is perfectly normal for toileting accidents to occur and for this reason we keep a stock of spare clothing handy. We ask parents to help keep our stock of spare clothing high by returning anything their child has borrowed and by providing a spare set of pants and bottoms to be kept at school through the year which can be left in their child’s PE bag. We encourage children to remain as independent as possible whilst changing after an accident but remain on hand the entire time to talk children through their changing, be an encouraging voice and lend a hand when needed. All changing happens within the open toilets adjoined to the classroom and our intimate care policy followed.


Within the Early Years, photographs are taken on a regular basis using school iPads. It is important to note that members of staff do not use their mobile phones in the classroom and are prohibited from taking photographs with their personal devices which are securely stored within school hours. Photographs that are taken with school iPads are: used as evidence to support the regular observation and assessment cycle of the early years; form part of the children’s electronic profiles; used as part of class displays and on the school website, particularly the class pages which are updated weekly as a way of sharing all of the amazing school activities with parents at home. All parents are asked to state if they give permission for their child’s image to be used on the school website through the paperwork in their initial starter packs.


Farsley Springbank is currently recognised as a healthy school. As part of this our children receive free fruit daily and are also given the choice to purchase daily school milk. Up until the end of Year 2 all children are also entitled to free school meals which are designed to be nutritionally balanced. Anyone not wishing to take up the offer of free school meals is encouraged to continue the ethos of the free school meal by providing a balanced, healthy lunch box.  Our curriculum also encourages children to recognise the importance of a healthy diet, regular exercise and good hygiene which are supported by direct teaching, PE sessions and half termly use of the ‘Cook’s Corner’ kitchen facility.


Within the outdoor area we are lucky enough to have a range of large climbing equipment. All climbing equipment in the outdoor area is checked regularly to ensure its safety as part of daily checks carried out by staff of both the indoor and outdoor environments. Use of the large equipment is always well supervised and children are taught how manage their own risks and safety when using it. Parents are asked to ensure their children do not use any of the large equipment after school hours, including pick up and drop off times.


In the event of an accident during the school day, all injuries are taken seriously and recorded in class accident books immediately. Parents and carers are informed of accidents when they collect their child at the end of the day. In the case of a head injury, however minor, parents are also given a bumped head note. In the case of severe accidents parents and carers are contacted immediately by the school.


We follow whole school procedures for child protection (see separate policy).  Any concerns are reported to the Designated Safeguarding Staff: Miss S Percival, Mrs L Pugh, Miss S Grime Mrs J Walton, Miss B Dean and Miss C Ferguson.


 We have separate policies for medicines in school and off-site visits and we follow all the procedures stated within these policies.


Early Years policy approved by Teaching and Learning committee February 2018


To be reviewed every 3 years unless circumstances mean an earlier review is needed

Review date: February 2021