This Developmental Learning Policy ensures consistency of high quality teaching and learning across our setting and overarches our curriculum area policies. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the core statutory framework for all children from birth until the end of their reception year, informs all our planning.
Aims – Our vision (our purpose)
At Pastures Way Nursery School (PWNS) our vision (our purpose) is to have a setting that is:
P – Positive
N – Nurturing
S – Shares Learning and Thinking Together
We believe children learn through play, first-hand experience and meaningful conversation. They make sense of the world through exploring and experimenting. We support children’s learning by stimulating their natural curiosity and encouraging independence. We feel that children should have the opportunity to return to experiences and deepen their learning throughout their time here. Children should have genuine choice between a range of experiences which are rich in potential for learning.
Our inspirations and beliefs about how children learn
We take our inspirations from many Early Years thinkers and traditions. Our starting point is always each individual child and their families. The ideas from Reggio Emilia, Ferre Laevers, and schema theory are key to helping us understand how children learn. We value learning equally in both outdoor and indoor environments, and are influenced and inspired by Forest Schools and the Scandinavian Nurseries. The findings of the EPPE Project, Every Child a Talker, Communication Friendly Spaces, and the promotion of Sustained Shared Thinking have helped us consider how to really listen to and develop the thinking of our children.
We want children to be lifelong learners willing to challenge themselves, take risks, be creative, and explore new experiences. The Characteristics of Effective Learners as part of the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (2012) help us support our children’s development as confident learners. We believe children’s view of themselves as competent learners starts from birth and we have an important role in working closely with families to nurture and support this further. We believe an effective learning environment evolves as staff use their observations to extend and support the children’s learning. We ensure children are presented with an attractive, calm, purposeful environment, indoors and outside, with quality equipment and natural materials. We give thoughtful consideration to the use of light and noise, and use natural colours where possible.
The relationship between home and nursery
Children need to feel emotionally secure at nursery if they are to have the confidence to explore and learn. At Pastures Way Nursery School, effective relationships with our families are the foundations of children’s learning and development. The first and most important relationships are between children, their parents and the rest of their family. The key person relationship is additional and complimentary to this. The key person visits the child at home, works closely with the family to settle the child and is a special person to the child and family throughout their time at Pastures Way Nursery School. By providing a safe and reliable relationship, the key person first works with the child’s need for dependency. This dependent relationship is the starting point for independence in the nursery: the confidence to explore, make choices, and play with friends or alone, safe in the knowledge that the key person is available to help when needed.
We want to ensure that all parents / carers feel welcome, listened to and supported and so we have an open-door policy. We also want parents / carers to become confident and comfortable in supporting their child’s learning in all areas of the curriculum. However, we acknowledge that some parents/carers feel anxious about learning, perhaps due to negative experiences from their own schooling or because they have English as an additional language. As trained professionals, we want to use our expertise to ensure that all parents / carers, whatever their own level of learning, feel confident and comfortable to positively support their child’s learning. We will do this by providing:
- An ‘open door’ policy where parents / carers are always welcome to observe / join in with activities around the nursery and speak to staff
- Learning Journeys displayed / parents actively encouraged to add to them
- Curriculum related books, learning activity packs, story, song and maths packs to borrow from our book and toy libraries
- Learning made visible through displays and curriculum handouts available
- Family Learning sessions with practical activities and ways to support children’s learning at home as well as a chance for adults to improve their own Literacy and Maths qualifications
- Happy Parents, Happy Children Behaviour Workshops
What is the adult’s role in nursery?
- To interact sensitively with children’s play and learning by showing interest, taking part and / or suggesting ideas where appropriate
- To interact through spotting a teachable moment
- To organise an environment which is rich in learning opportunities e.g. by offering natural materials, and by providing space to explore and experiment, and repeat and practise in order to build concepts
- To organise an environment that promotes play, enabling children to integrate their learning
- To have respectful and authentic conversations with children
- To provide adult led experiences matched to the interests, fascinations and development of a group of children. This will often include teaching new skills and ideas, and encourage collaborative working towards a shared goal
Where does our planning come from?
We believe in a principled approach as outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Each routine and area of provision is carefully thought out and we are continually developing and reflecting on how to improve. Our continuous provision is offered every day as we believe children build their learning over time. The high quality of all of our continuous provision ensures that whichever choice a child makes, they will access a learning experience which offers access to a broad, balanced curriculum. We are committed to planning as it arises from the needs and interests of focus children, not from focus activities. Our planning focuses on process and learning, not end products. This approach to planning observes children’s interests, development and characteristics as a learner and is contributed to by the children’s families.
Long Term Planning – PWNS Core Learning Experiences
After visiting Kate Greenaway Nursery School and finding out about their Core Experiences Framework – we were inspired to create our own – thank you. We are also influenced by the Reggio Emilia system of the ‘Four Fundamentals of Learning’. PWNS Core Learning Experiences provide a daily framework for our high quality continuous provision and these contribute to our long term planning. Children develop and learn as they revisit each experience over time. In addition, we have a long term planning list of stories, songs and rhymes we would like children to know by the time they leave our setting (see appendix). With these core learning experiences in place, the practitioners plan for individual children. Deeper learning opportunities and critical thinking skills are developed, in an emotionally warm, secure and organised environment underpinned by the key person approach.
PWNS Core Learning Experiences
- Heuristic Play
- Exploring nature and the outdoors
- Loose Materials (sand, soil, water etc.)
- Mixing and malleable materials
- Music and movement
- Mark making and colour theory
- Communication and social opportunities
- Imagination and role play
- Construction and using tools
Short and Medium Term Planning
Our short and medium term planning is skeletal and flexible in order to respond to children’s changing needs and interests. Our medium term planning reflects settling in, the seasons and time of year, major festivals and celebrations. It also informs our displays and our ‘talking and thinking’ books. Exploring nature and seasonal changes as well as celebrations gives shape to the year. Children are offered related learning experiences indoors and outdoors, as well as through forest school activities, on site visitors and visits off site (please see our calendar in the appendix). Our responsive short term planning brings together the planning for individuals or groups of children alongside assessments of their development, learning, interests and fascinations.
Celebrating children’s learning and recording their achievements
We think carefully about how, when and where we plan for, record and celebrate children’s learning and development.
- Children’s interests, along with samples of work, observations and other evidence of progress and achievement, are recorded in the children’s ‘Learning Journeys’ to capture significant progress.
- Staff use objective led planning developed from observations of children’s fascinations, interests and schemas, and the learning is planned for individuals or small groups of children who share an interest.
- Plans are linked to the EYFS Development Matters / Typical Child statements and are differentiated to ensure inclusion and challenge.
- Differentiation is achieved through accessibility of resources, complexity of task or expectation of outcome.
- Evaluations inform next steps for individuals and / or groups of children who participated in the activity.
- Child engagements are observed and monitored through our observations.
- Photos and samples of work are evident in ‘Talking and Thinking’ Books and displays around the nursery, and are used to form a record of children’s progress in their Learning Journeys.
- Staff track children’s progress termly and the Head Teacher uses this information to analyse progress across the nursery.
- Parents / Carers can informally look at their child’s Learning Journey and speak to staff throughout the year.
- Parent / Carers are invited to Parent / Keyworker consultations in the first and third term of each year to discuss progress and transitions into and out of our setting. Parents receive a written report of progress at the end of the academic year.
We seek to ensure that all children have opportunity and access to learning according to their individual need, and given extra support and adaptations to equipment when needed. We extend the learning of able children. Throughout the setting, all languages are shown respect and given equal status. Equipment and displays include a variety of non-sexist and culturally appropriate materials. We provide resources and support to enable children with a special educational need or English as an additional language to access learning across the nursery, at a level appropriate to their stage of development. Children speaking other languages are offered the opportunity to look at dual language books, have stories and count in their own language wherever possible.
Boys and girls are encouraged to play with all the materials available in nursery, including the role play materials. We acknowledge that some of these have been traditionally regarded as either for the use of boys or girls only and seek to help parents understand the importance of children being allowed to freely play with these materials in order to help them make sense of their world. We challenge negative stereotypes and actively discourage children’s use of phrasing indicating only one particular gender is allowed to play with an object e.g. a doll; an activity e.g. superheroes; or a colour e.g. pink.
Our curriculum seeks to provide an opportunity to learn about our children’s artistic and cultural heritage. We promote an awareness of rich diversity and a celebration of and sensitivity towards cultural difference. It includes developing an awareness of what is aesthetically pleasing and how this may differ from person to person and culture to culture. It involves developing an appreciation of the creative thinking and expressions of others in, for example, art, music and dance. We believe that it is important that all children are able to see their own cultural heritage valued and given the opportunity to draw upon it in their work.
Everyone as a learner
At Pastures Way Nursery School, we consider everyone to be a learner. Our staff and governors are always thinking about how to improve what is on offer for our children. We aim to think about “progress” in the broadest possible sense and our eagerness to share our practice demonstrates our desire to keep discussing and reflecting on what we do. We spent three years 2009 – 2012 as part of a Creative Partnerships Project which helped us to develop our outstanding creative curriculum (OFSTED, 2011). In 2013 we were involved in a University of Northampton International Creative Arts Project. Staff seek to actively progress in their professional development and have opportunities to work alongside Anni McTavish, as our Early Years Pedagogue, to develop innovative practice, and participate in her research. Staff engage in professional dialogue with her in their termly class team supervision and reflection sessions. We continue to develop our partnership as a group of six Luton Maintained Nursery Schools. We continue to take on the role of Early Year’s experts within the local Luton West Area Partnership (WAP) Cluster, and plan and deliver training and development opportunities. In conjunction with Meadows Children Centre which is based on site, and for which we are the lead agency, we provide family and adult learning activities. We currently have two staff in higher learning study, which includes action research in our nursery.
Staff CPD opportunities
We want to ensure that all staff, regardless of their own level of learning, feel confident and comfortable to support children’s learning across the curriculum. We will do this by providing:
- Well organised and labelled easy to use books and equipment
- Staff training opportunities in planning meetings, staff meetings, INSET days
- Relevant books, early years professional journals to borrow, handouts and information displayed on staff notice boards
- Peer observations
- Analysis of staff / child interaction video clips to share good practice
- An environment that inspires progress and commits to leading edge teaching and learning
We have been inspired as a staff team by our CPD opportunities to work with EY Specialists including:
- Kathryn Holt, to develop our storytelling skills
- Jan Dubiel, to develop risk and challenge
- Jo Gordon, Mindstretchers consultant, to develop risk and challenge outdoors
- Ros Bayley, to develop our approach to phonics in the Early Years
- Chloe Ansell – to support children’s emotional needs / capacity for learning
Responsibilities, management and coordination
- The overall responsibility for planning and progress lies with the Head Teacher.
- The Head Teacher reports about planning, assessment and children’s progress, and shares information gathered from the curriculum coordinators, in the termly Head Teacher’s Report to Governors.
- Team Leaders have responsibility for the progress of a class of children, as well as the development of a curriculum area, and report on this progress to the Head Teacher. The Deputy Head monitors planning / has a curriculum area.
- Planning analysis is shared with staff in order to ensure a breadth of coverage and that quality is constantly improving.
- The Senior Leadership Team observe staff across the nursery and give feedback bi-annually.
- Annually, Team Leaders observe their own class teams and give feedback.
- We share video clips of staff / child interactions at termly staff meetings in order to inspire and share good practice.
Equipment is centrally stored and labelled in the relevant curriculum area or in ‘Central Stores’. Equipment is photo labelled. Staff are expected to model, encourage and support children’s independence in selecting and clearing away nursery equipment. Aprons are provided for children to protect their clothing. Brooms, dustpans, cloths are provided for children to help clean an area after use. Curriculum Coordinators are expected to audit equipment and have a system in place for its regular maintenance, in addition to the ‘Friday Jobs’ clear up. Curriculum Coordinators are able to bid for additional equipment when they submit their annual action plan to the Headteacher.
This developmental policy is based on the one developed by Lark Hill Nursery School (thank you), and was written by the Deputy Head with the help of the staff team. It has been approved by the whole school staff, wider school and children’s centre community and the governing body.
Agreed by Governors: Jan 2013
Review Date: Jan 2016
Pastures Way Nursery School
Seasonal Learning Calendar
2014 – 15
- Our seasonal learning opportunities give shape to the year and support our Medium Term Planning
- Families are invited to join us for these events – look out for letters home
- WOW Wednesdays – families receive related curriculum information leaflets every Wednesday & are invited to join in our parent / child activities at drop off times
|Celebrations / Festivals||Off site visits/On-site Visitors
(NB There may be a charge for some of these events)
|Seasonal / Eco-School Events||Charity Events|
|-Black History Month
-St Andrew’s Day
-Christmas: lunch /party / Santa’s visit
Christmas around the world – focus on Poland, Nigeria, Croatia, Slovenia
|-Dunstable Downs Forest School Welly Walk
-Kathryn: Winter storytelling
|-National Poetry Day
-The Big Draw month
-Big Tidy Up
-Switch off fortnight
-World Kindness Day
-World Toilet Day
|-Jeans for Genes Day – Wear jeans
-Children in Need – wear spots
-Soup and Socks in the box collection for Luton homeless
|Celebrations/ Festivals||Off site visits / On-site Visitors||Seasonal / Eco-School Events||Charity Events|
|-Chinese New Year
-St David’s Day
-St Patrick’s Day
-St Georges Day
-Easter bonnet parade and Easter Egg Hunt
|-Dunstable Downs Forest School Welly Walk
-Spud and Yam phase 1 phonics music session
-Mad Science Day
-Natural History Museum
|-RSPB Bird Watch
-Waste awareness week and Big Spring Clean
-National Storytelling Week / Duvet Day
-World Book Day / Bring A Book Day
|-Red nose day: Wake up shake up & cake sale
|Celebrations / Festivals||Off site visits / On-site Visitors||Seasonal / Eco-School Events||Charity Events|
-End of year celebration for everyone includes graduation for leavers & Smartie Artie magician
-Aldenham Country Park
(Farm & Pooh Bear Trail)
-Dunstable Downs Forest School Welly Walk
-Go green week (Eco School & Forest School celebration)with World Environment Day