St Austin’s has a self contained Upper Foundation Stage unit, with a landscaped outdoor area with resources to inspire imaginative play. It has its own outside space for play and learning. The learning environments are organised to allow children to explore safely, encouraging independence, creativity and physical activity. An emphasis on personal development ensures that children learn to respect others and modify their behaviour to 'do the right thing' and make good choices.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum forms the basis of the Upper Foundation Stage Curriculum. As part of these goals, great emphasis is placed upon the acquisition of skills and full understanding of the processes involved in reading, writing and mathematics.
Our teaching staff provide a 'rich language environment' in the classroom, reading stories to the children and discussing the world around them to help them gain confidence in speaking, listening and expressing their ideas. We use the Oxford Reading Tree scheme as the basis of our school reading theme. Children are also encouraged to choose a book to take home and share with their parents. Each child has a reading record diary. We very much value parents' comments when they have listened to their child read. Children learn at varying rates and in different ways, and each pupil is treated as an individual. Although we work within a graded reading scheme, the emphasis is on understanding of the text, fluency, expression and, most importantly, enjoyment!
The beginning of written English starts in Upper Foundation Stage with pencil control and practising writing patterns. As the children's confidence and ability develops, they are encouraged to write for a variety of audiences and purposes, both as formal work and in play situations. Numeracy in the Foundation Stage starts with pre-number activities (counting, rhymes, making connections, shapes, sorting and matching etc.) with the aim of building a solid foundation. Emphasis is placed on the language of maths. Parents can assist children at home by encouraging them to play games involving numbers (snakes and ladders, ludo, dominoes), and allowing them to help in everyday tasks such as shopping, sorting, washing, laying the table and cooking.
Other subjects are covered in the EYFS through cross-curricular topics, to help make sense of the world around us. The use of IT is encouraged, and each classroom has an interactive whiteboard and access to computers. Creativity is at the heart of successful learning; opportunities for creative play through art, music, role play and dance are threaded though everyday lessons. Learning is also child-initiated, using the experiences and opportunities that children bring to the classroom to enhance a broad curriculum.