EYFS Learning Environments

The Enabling Early Years Environment

We provide an exciting, rich, stimulating and vibrant environment in which our youngest children can learn, challenge themselves and develop.

The Early Years Foundation Stage has its own part of the Willow Dene building, with outside and indoor play areas that are custom-built for the sole use of our youngest children with complex needs and with autism.

We see learning opportunities everywhere, inside and outside. Physical development on play equipment, the school’s MOVE programme, climbing frames, swings, trampolines, bikes and slides are all on offer. The outdoors environment is safe and secure, affording children the opportunity to build their skills and be challenged. Everything is adaptable, from the class timetable to cutlery, paintbrushes, chairs and tables – to be the right level of support for each child.

Although we have our own dedicated part of the building, we also have full access to all the specialist learning areas across the rest of the school, including two ball pools and soft play areas, the eye gaze and magic carpet technology, multi-sensory room, weekly swim sessions in our hydro-pool, forest school, sensory garden, trampolines, sensory circuits, interactive library and book areas.

We have a total communication approach in our environment, which means that a variety of communication tools and aids are used, depending on what works best for each child, whether that is symbols, photographs, objects of reference, touch cues and sensory calendars, alongside simple verbal language. Areas of each class and the department are clearly labelled so that children are empowered to understand where they are going and what they are doing throughout their week.

We value experiences and practical hands-on learning, allowing children the chance to discover things they may not be able to on their own, as well as to broaden their horizons and open opportunities to things they may not come across otherwise.

Play is at the heart of the Early Years but we recognise that our children may need support to develop play skills, to understand the effect they can have on their surroundings and resources available, as well as how to interact with other children. Our adults are highly-trained professionals with a wealth of knowledge in early child development and years of practical experience teaching young children with a range of disabilities. They lead sessions, structure learning and challenge children to achieve at every step and are always, always focussed on the positive!

To that end you will see achievements celebrated right across the Early Years department. Parents are invited to our weekly sharing time assemblies and displays of children’s work and photographs of learning in action are everywhere to be seen.

But the environment in the Early Years is more than physical space – it includes the emotions and feelings you get as you walk through our doors, the positivity of the staff, the possibilities that we aim for, the interactions between children, their peers and the adults supporting them, as well as the smiles and laughter along the way.