Ad – This is a collaborative post with Rose Hill School. The article has been written by Victoria Robinson, Head of Early Years.
The Early Years and Foundation Stage otherwise known as EYFS, what is it all about? It can sometimes be challenging to know exactly what happens in an EYFS setting. I hope that this next analogy will go some way to help make sense of it all.
Imagine you are building a house. You will need to enlist the help of many professionals; architects, interior designers. But first and foremost you will need to talk to a structural engineer to ensure the house you plan to build will stand the test of time. With strong foundations you have a sound basic structure. The Early Years gives our children the foundations for a strong and positive education.
Foundations, steel joists, structural support. Without this structure the rest of the house simply cannot be built. Never mind curtains and wallpaper, if you do not have a solid structure there is nothing else to build upon. That is the Early Years in a nutshell. We give the children the tools they need to ensure they have the building blocks for life. The fundamental skills at grass roots level to enable them to fly as they continue their journey through education.
What are these solid foundations made from?
Each child is treated as an individual, ensuring their needs and interests are given the utmost attention. We promote excellent communication and language opportunities at every corner, personal, social and emotional development moments and ensuring regular fine and gross motor skill are just some of the ways we enable our children to have a happy, positive and successful time at school, which in turn creates the solid foundations.
As I reflect on a year that has left many of us feeling discombobulated in one way or another, I find myself returning to the same question, ‘what effect has this year had on our children?’ 2020 saw the temporary closure of the majority of educational settings, and as a direct result the level of social engagement amongst babies, toddlers, children and teenagers took an immediate nosedive.
Parent and toddler groups ceased to operate, as did baby sensory classes, sports fixtures, Brownies, Scouts and Dance classes to name a few. Every opportunity to socialise and play with others came to a grinding halt.
Recalling my first six months of parenting, had I too been faced with the prospect of not being able to see family, friends and other new parents from our NCT group, I fear my confidence, mental health and general wellbeing would have been significantly impacted. The ramifications of losing the opportunity to make new friendships and socialise our children and ourselves cannot be underplayed.
Here at Rose Hill School, Pastoral care is at the centre of everything we do. There is a strong emphasis on building positive and purposeful relationships between teaching staff and children. We strive to build and maintain these relationships and by doing this the children know that their school environment is one in which they feel safe, understood and confident.
In the early years, our children are taught not only by their class teacher, who is their key worker, but also by subject leaders across the school, thus ensuring that they become familiar, comfortable and confident around a number of the Rose Hill School staff.
In addition to the Early Years framework, every week the children will have a bespoke modern foreign language lesson, swimming and PE lessons, Music and IT lessons. All of which are delivered by the head of each respective department. Thus increasing the number of teachers the children come into regular contact with and growing their circle of familiar and trusted adults. With our excellent pastoral care comes a sound understanding of our children’s wellbeing- we work extremely hard to ensure that every pupil has someone they know they can walk, talk and spend time with.
Our two school dogs are probably the most adored pooches in Tunbridge Wells!
They are walked each and every day by our pupils. Sometimes the dog walk and chat is with a teacher, other days Frank and Maisie are walked by a small group of pupils-the walks and chats are instrumental for ensuring the at the children have ample opportunities to share their news, feelings and sometimes anxieties. These walks provide another way to start constructive conversations promoting self-belief and self-esteem.
If our children’s experience of education has provided them with strong foundations, and is a learning environment that is safe and stimulating, then we feel we are going some way to creating optimal opportunities for active learning. Across the school our children are taught using a creative approach. There is an overarching termly topic for each year group and a great deal of what they learn is led by this. Kindergarten’s summer term topic is “Up, Up and Away”. Just last week they went into space and a rocket that they had made. Once in space they met and talked to some aliens, they created their own space creature, learnt and recited a rocket poem and practiced some intergalactic yoga moves.
In Reception, their topic for this term is “In the long grass”, they are learning all about mini-beasts: they have been on a mini-beast hunt in our school woods, they are preparing for a school trip to explore mini-beast habitats, and this week they are learning all about the importance of bees and how to become a bee keeper. The creative curriculum ensures that we capture the children’s interests across the curriculum, making their experience feel purposeful and immersive.
At the core of everything we do at Rose Hill School you will find integrity. The pupils learn that we must endeavour to be organised, persistent, have confidence, be resilient and above all be a good friend. These five focus areas are what we call our five keys to success. These ideals are introduced, modelled and reinforced from the moment the children walk through the door in Kindergarten until they leave us for secondary school.
I think I might just have one of life’s most rewarding jobs, every day I am amazed by the stamina and enthusiasm of our pupils. I am awe struck by their growing confidence and communication skills, and I am bursting with pride at how much these little people thrive when surrounded by superb friends and teachers.
To find out how Rose Hill School might benefit your child, please get in contact to organise a personal tour by emailing Admissions Secretary, Ann Green: firstname.lastname@example.org