I have worked at St Anne’s now for over 30 years. Having taught in Year 1 and Year 2 for a number of years, I realised after moving to Reception and then Nursery, Early Years was my passion. I knew from an early age I wanted to become a hairdresser or a Nursery Nurse. I remember vividly attending my careers interview in the 5th year of secondary school. On hearing my aspirations, the careers adviser said, “Miss Moore, you will be a teacher”. I wish I could meet up with her and tell her it was the best advice I could have been given. I can honestly say I could not imagine doing anything else, confirmed during my time spent in lockdown when I realised just how much I missed not only the children but also the parents and staff of St Anne’s, and also doing the job I love. Educating the young and supporting learning and development in those crucial first years of school is the most rewarding career I could wish to have.
I am married with two children, both of whom also attended St Anne’s. I attended Liverpool Hope University, which at the time was called St Katherine’s College, gaining a B.Ed (Hons) degree. My first interview was at Sir Thomas Street where my interviewer said, “I know just the school for you”. She wrote St. Anne’s School on a slip of paper and told me to give the Head teacher, Mr Shaw a ring. That was the beginning of my teaching journey. Teaching children of children I have taught many years ago and also working alongside staff I have taught makes me feel so proud.
As a young child I was brought up in a home surrounded by family members reading. I was overjoyed when like my big sister I was given a reading book to be brought home. Every visitor to the house would be asked if I could read to them from my reading book. I was so proud that I could “read”, just like my big sister. As EYFS Lead giving children a love of reading from an early age which they will take through with them to adulthood is one of my main goals.
“Children need to enter school with basic reading, maths, social and emotional skills. From birth to age 5, when a child’s brain develops rapidly, is the time to build the foundation of cognitive abilities and character. These early skills are necessary for success in school, health, career and life.”
At St Anne’s we place great value on the development of children as individuals and providing them with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to prepare them for the challenges in Key Stage One and beyond. Our aim in the EYFS is to build strong foundations rooted in academic success as well as moral and spiritual development, so that ultimately our pupils can be successful at university, go on to be active citizens of society and happy, curious life-long learners.
Our curriculum is therefore the cultural capital we know our pupils need so that they can gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. They can only do that if we embed the right habits for learning through the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning – Play and Exploration, Active Learning and Creative and Critical Thinking.
Many of our pupils arrive well below national expectations for their age and a high proportion come from disadvantaged backgrounds and with complex needs. We have to teach them how to listen, speak and meet the high expectations for behaviour by working together and being kind. As such, we prioritise personal, social and emotional development and communication and language in the Nursery curriculum. Our enabling environment and warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration. As the pupils move into Reception, we invest time and energy into helping pupils set and reflect on their own goals by aiming high and developing a love of reading, writing and number. This is delivered through a holistic curriculum which maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking following children’s interests and ideas. We value imagination and creativity and seek to create a sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning through a vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision, alongside trips and visits. Our investment in specialist teachers for music and PE mean that children continually receive high quality teaching.
Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have rigorous directed teaching in English, maths and phonics everyday with regular circle time sessions to focus on other areas of the EYFS curriculum. These sessions are often followed by group work where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets. This focused group time means the teacher can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.
Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas. The curriculum is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development including understanding the world and expressive art and design as well as to promote sustained thinking and active learning.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Children follow the rigorous and successful Read, Write Inc program faithfully so that they meet good outcomes for reading. Our aim is for all children passing the Year One phonics screening. We have chosen multiple high-quality texts to create an integrated approach to learning from which pupils can experience the full curriculum.
We follow the Maths Mastery approach in Reception with an emphasis on studying key skills of number, calculation and shape so that pupils develop deep understanding and the acquisition of mathematical language. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives which are then rehearsed and applied to their own learning during exploration. Nursery pupils begin to develop these key skills during daily maths meetings where they explore sorting, quantities, shape, number and counting awareness. These early mathematical experiences are carefully designed to help pupils remember the content they have been taught and to support them with integrating their new knowledge across the breadth of their experiences and into larger concepts.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be reaching their potential or moving on children who are doing very well. This includes, for example, Read Write A-Z; or additional ‘catch-up’ provision in Maths. Staff also use ‘pinny time’ which is a quick, on the spot intervention focused on sight words, blending and number retention with target individuals. The characteristics of effective learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations of children.
Our regular monitoring of teaching and learning ensures that teachers develop a good subject knowledge and are effectively supported. We tailor our staff PD to be early years specific and are focused on moderating outcomes across the phase so that every member of our team feels confident in making accurate judgements about where individual pupils are and their next steps for learning. We have support from Speech and Language therapists who help to build subject knowledge of working with children who have communication and language difficulties.
Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND, so we spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning. This is achieved through talking to children, looking at their work, observing their learning experiences and analysing data and progress by year group, class, groups and individuals. Every member of staff uses ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress. This information is tracked which enables us to measure our starting points against a national data set. We use this information to plan learning experiences and next steps so that knowledge and skills are built cumulatively. During each assessment window, three times a year, teachers update the progress children have made which allows us to assess the impact of teaching and evaluate whether it has been enough. Evidence of children’s learning including observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents are kept in ‘learning journals’ which children use to reflect on their progress through pupil voice.
Our curriculum and its delivery ensure that children make good progress. Children in our early years, on average, arrive with much lower starting points than national. During their time in our EYFS, children make good progress, our aim is to meet the national expectation for GLD at the end of the year. We believe our high standards are due to the enriched play-based exploration alongside the rigour of assessment and teaching the children have as they move through the early years – a rich diet of balanced learning experiences is undoubtedly the best way to develop happy, curious children.
If you have any queries, please contact Mrs Riley, Early Years Leader.