Our Early Years consists of Nursery (3-4yrs) and Reception (4-5yrs) classrooms. Bright and open spaces provide our children with a rich, safe and stimulating learning environment. Nursery places are full time and free. Children typically join our Nursery the September after their third birthday. However, there is a second point of admission when children who turn 3 between September and January can join us the January after their third birthday.
We plan an exciting and challenging thematic curriculum based on high quality books. Each half term, children dive into new texts as they investigate a ‘Big Question.’ For example, at the beginning of Reception, children are asked ‘What makes a good friend?’ By reading Together We Can! by Caryl Hart and Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell, our children learn about kindness, compassion and resilience.
Much of learning in our Early Years is play-based, and takes place both indoors and outside. The Foundation Stage unit at Old Moat prioritises the development of pupils’ spoken language, as this underpins all seven areas of learning and development. In our continuous and enhanced provision, indoors and outdoors, children communicate with each other in an engaging and thought-provoking environment. We believe the number and quality of the conversations children have with adults and peers is crucial. For that reason, play is maximised, well modelled and has clear progression, week by week and term by term. In adult interactions, children hear comments on their interests and actions, echoing back what they have said with new vocabulary added. Because of this, practitioners build children's language effectively. In adult-initiated learning, children are read to frequently and take part in story-telling with a multi-sensory approach. Hearing stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing children with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words through Word Aware approaches, gives children the opportunity to thrive in their enabling environment. As children’s communication development is monitored using the Wellcomm screening tool, those who struggle are targeted for intervention. For all children, sensitive questioning invites them to elaborate and use new vocabulary and language structures.
As Foundation Stage pupils at Old Moat hear a range of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems daily, a love of literature is instilled. Our children are encouraged to be active participants in storytelling, by repeating refrains and creating actions. Our curriculum indicates a range of quality texts that link to our Big Questions, as well as celebrations and holidays. Along with this, Nursery and Reception each have a ‘Reading Spine,’ made up of texts which are told and retold throughout the academic year. With in-depth knowledge of these stories, children learn to love, retell and dramatise their plots. Teachers have access to further stories, to ensure books are read which match children’s interests. Our systematic synthetic phonics programme is Little Wandle. Nursery enjoy daily Little Wandle Foundations phonics sessions. In Reception, in addition to the daily Little Wandle phonics sessions, children read the appropriate Little Wandle book three times per week in a small group, focussing on decoding (using phonics to read out loud), expression and comprehension. There are phonics keep-up sessions for children who fall behind. Reception children are also heard reading individually and readers who need further support are given opportunities for this. Children’s love for reading is encouraged to extend beyond school: Reception children take home their Little Wandle book and a library book. Nursery children also take home several books for their parents to read to them, and begin guided reading sessions with their teacher in the Summer term. All writing by children is valued and encouraged, whether this be children who are making pre-writing shapes or writing sentences. All children write daily, in adult-initiated learning, and are invited to do so in the continuous and enhanced provision too.
To ensure children excel mathematically in Key Stage One at Old Moat, our curriculum aims to develop a strong grounding in number, with a deep understanding of numbers to 10. By following the principles set out in the NCETM Mastering Number maths programme, Nursery children explore numbers to 5 in-depth, considering each numbers’ composition and being able to count confidently. In Reception, children further develop their understanding of the numbers to 10 and the patterns within those numbers. Children are afforded frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding, through adult-initiated learning and in the continuous and enhanced provision. We believe that number is all around, and practitioners have the capacity to unlock this for children. In all learning experiences around maths, manipulatives are relied upon, as practical activity is the key to fostering such deep understanding. Moreover, mathematical vocabulary is planned into our curriculum, and the enhanced provision provides opportunities for children to use this. Through practical experience, children also develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics, including shape, space and measure. Children’s mathematical knowledge is assessed in everyday interactions, as well as regular assessments.
Our teachers and teaching assistants are skilled in supporting all children in building upon their strengths and taking on new challenges. Because of this, Early Years children at Old Moat are independent and self-assured learners. This provides our children with the best possible start to school life.
We hold regular parent workshops to support our school community. Supervised tooth brushing takes place in Reception daily.