The Early Years at Church Lench First School
Our vision at Church Lench First School rests upon Christian and British values. This vision extends into and encompasses all that we do in the Early Years.
For with God nothing is impossible.
Who are we?
‘Love one another, just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another’
Our vision at Church Lench CE First School is to create an environment where children and staff feel loved and are happy. We guide our children through the Foundation Stage to become confident, independent and resilient learners and young members of society.
Why are we here?
‘So in Christ, we though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others’
We enable our children to support and respect others beliefs and backgrounds knowing we are all children of God and created in his image. We help our children to develop a good knowledge and understanding of keeping safe in the wider world and protecting themselves from potential harm. We aim for all our children to make a positive contribution to the classroom, community and wider society.
How then shall we live?
‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me’
We encourage our children to have high hopes, feel happy and confident to take risks. We foster perseverance and courage in all areas of life. Through the 'Characteristics of Effective Learning' we ensure the children challenge themselves in their chosen learning and in all activities.
We welcome children to Church Lench First School from a variety of different preschools and nurseries. Due to our location, we receive most of our children from ‘The Lenches Preschool’. We work closely with preschools and nurseries to enable a smooth transition from their setting to ours. Preschool children are invited to visit school up to six times (more if required) during the summer term before they start in September. We invite children at different times of the day so that they can experience school routines. Staff from ‘The Lenches Preschool’ and school staff meet regularly at this time to discuss the children’s needs, interests and abilities.
On entry to Church Lench First School, we observe the children closely and ask them to complete some play-based tasks to gain an understanding of the level that they are working at and their personalised next steps. Baseline data is recorded in all 17 areas of the Early Years curriculum to allow us to calculate progress throughout the academic year. By the end of the year, we are able to collect data to show whether children have achieved a ‘Good Level of Development’ (GLD) across their foundation year, which has to be reported by the school. GLD is given when children have reached the ‘expected’ level by the end of the year in 12 of the 17 ELGs.
Percentage of children reaching GLD
Achieving GLD is a good indicator that your child is ‘on track’ with their learning and has built up their knowledge and skills ready to take on the National Curriculum through Key Stage 1. For those children who did not achieve ‘GLD’ at the end of their reception year, they will be supported through the autumn term (and further if necessary) of Year 1 to ensure that they have met the goals that were missed. We are very fortunate that, due to having a mixed Year R/1 class, the class teacher has great knowledge of the children when they enter Year 1 and can quickly fill in gaps in learning to move the children forward.
In order to provide a wide range of text types for our children, the school uses a number of reading schemes from different publishers. These texts have been colour coded using the 'book band' system which grades books by difficulty into bands of different colours. This enables children to explore texts at an appropriate level and includes text types such as stories, traditional tales, non-fiction and information books, poems, play scripts and autobiographies, to name but a few. As children progress with their reading during their time at Church Lench First School, they will move from coloured band to coloured band until their reading skills enable them to access carefully chosen free-readers.
The following reading schemes are used:
Oxford Reading Tree, including Floppy's Phonics, Songbirds Phonics, Fireflies and Treetops
Collins Big Cat
Usborne Phonics Readers
Ladybird- Read it yourself
At the beginning of Reception, children will bring home books with no words to enable them to tell their own story from the pictures or from their own imagination. They will then move onto pink level books that use picture cues and repetitive phrases to enable the children to ‘read’ their own story. We highly value reading at school and believe that parents should play a very active role in supporting their children’s learning. Our school expectation is that children should read at least three times a week at home but find the children who make the most progress and who enjoy their learning the most are those that read more than that. In Reception, we listen to the children read three times a week as we value spending this quality time sharing a book with a child one-on-one and believe that this time makes a big impact on their early reading skills. We also share stories each day read by an adult so that children can enjoy books with their friends as well as access vocabulary and story lines that are beyond their current reading ability.
We teach phonics every day to aid the children with the early skills in reading and writing. Most children enter school ready to learn ‘Phase 2’ phonics (the letter sounds for single letters in the alphabet) and are taught the skills or segmenting, blending and decoding words. They are also taught to recognise high frequency and ‘tricky’ words. As the children become more secure in their knowledge and skills, they are able to begin reading words and then writing them. Through the course of their reception year, children are exposed to reading and writing daily through teacher led activities, group work or independent choice activities. They move through ‘Phase 3’ (diagraphs/trigraphs such as ‘ch’, ‘ai’ and ‘igh’) and onto ‘Phase 4’ (segmenting and blending longer words). Some children, when they first start school, need a little more support with their understanding of phonics. These children may need to work on listening to sounds and speaking activities before they start to learn letter sounds.
The Play Plan
Staff at Church Lench First School plan lessons and learning experiences around a central topic or theme. These themes change each half term. We aim to develop the whole child by planning play activities in a variety of areas such as: role play, fine motor, gross motor, play-doh area, craft area, construction and the dance stage, amongst others. Each week, the children are asked for their input into what they would like to enhance their learning and then their feedback is woven into the play plan for the following week. Staff also monitor areas of strength or difficulties and facilitate play/learning opportunities for these areas. For example, we have a different fine motor activity each day to strengthen children's hand muscles and hand/eye coordination as we noticed that this was lower than average on entry to school.
Each day, the children have phonics, English (which includes: reading, writing speaking/listening and drama) and maths. In the afternoon sessions the children enjoy a range of topic lessons on themes such as: pirates, real life superheroes, seaside holidays or the Queen. We also have two PE lessons a week (gymnastics, dance or games), RE, music and PHSE. We attend assemblies each day including celebration assemblies on a Friday and ‘Open the Book’ stories at church most Thursdays. Alongside adult led activities/learning the children are able to choose through ‘free-flow’ time what they would like to do, whether inside the classroom or outside in our enclosed outdoor area. We are lucky to have many different areas of our classroom and outdoor provision including a mud kitchen, undercover teaching area, an outdoor stage, a craft area, role play (the theme varies depending on topic but can include vets, doctors, shops, the home corner or science lab) and construction corner. We also have big plans to overhaul our outside area over the summer ready for September 2019 so watch this space!