Early Years Foundation Stage

The Willow Dene Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is based upon an EYFS best practice approach.

EYFS practice is built on four principles that do not exclusively apply to children under 5. These embrace the philosophy of how children learn best at Willow Dene School.

You can see the four principles here:

The unique child focuses on how our children develop.  This takes into account children’s strengths, abilities and areas of interest as well as barriers to their development which may include medical, learning, physical and communication needs.  The unique child principle also places importance on the relationships we build with children.  At Willow Dene this includes how we work in a multi professional team, use personalised specialist equipment and incorporate different teaching approaches.

Positive relationships are crucial to work effectively with children and vital for building relationships with our families. They support us to work together and help deepen our understanding of the children. We value the importance of relationships with other children to ensure they feel part of a group and begin to develop friendships.

The enabling environment relates to the emotional as well as the physical environment and it extends children's development and learning. The focus is on making sure what we offer is accessible and inviting.

Learning and development acknowledges that children learn in different ways and at different rates and need to be actively involved in things that are meaningful to them.

The Characteristics of Learning support children to engage with other people and their environment.  They are:

  • Playing and exploring
  • Active learning
  • Creating and thinking critically

They underpin learning and development across all areas and support children to become effective and motivated learners

The EYFS is a developmental approach and is used with children from birth. Most of the children at Willow Dene are learning at the early developmental stages that EYFS covers.

Willow Dene has  developed Seeds which lets us look more closely at the development of skills for our children working at very early levels of development.

The seven areas of Learning and Development in the EYFS are presented separately but recognise that for young children everything links and nothing is compartmentalised. We ensure that our children learn and develop as an outcome of their individual interests and abilities and that planning for learning and development takes account of these.

We learn about what the children can do, achieve, want, like and need by observing them.

Long term planning ensures that the children experience all aspects of the Areas of Learning and Development. It ensures coherence within and between all aspects of the curriculum and relevance to the current and future needs of the child. It ensures coverage of the curriculum but the topics are not rigidly adhered to give us flexibility to develop the interests of the ‘unique child’.

The EYFS encourages us to have an in depth focus on one or two children for a week and this allows us to give them a period of intense observation and intervention. It enables us to draw on the expertise of the family and other professionals involved.