IOur Early Years provision
Welcome to St. Luke’s Early Years unit! Each September we welcome 2 new Reception classes and Nursery children for part time and full-time spaces. Each class contains a maximum of 30 children, however both Reception classes work closely together in our indoor and outdoor spaces alongside all the staff.
At St. Luke’s we understand that this is a major milestone for children and families, beginning the educational journey in school. It is the opportunity for children to begin to develop a sense of independence, to take a lead in their choices and learning paths and most importantly to develop new relationships and find security in their new school.
We focus on the 4 Principles of Early Years:
A Unique Child
Each child is at the core of everything we do in education. We strive to ensure that the learning is personal to each child and that they are all given the opportunity to develop and engage in something they love. We recognise that no two children are alike and that they all respond differently. It is for this reason that we begin with a home visit. The opportunity to get to know you and your child in an environment that is comfortable for them. We can learn some of their likes and see which members of staff they are drawn to. This also allows us to plan their first day with exciting toys and resources, ensure that the adult they are familiar with is there to greet them and that they can begin their journey with their parent as a positive experience. We allow children the time to get comfortable with us, for some this is a quicker process that for others but no matter the time it takes we strive to ensure it is a happy and exciting time for all.
When planning each week all the staff sit together and discuss the children on an individual basis so that we can be sure they have something to engage in, develop from and build on. This type of planning is always adaptable throughout the week so that if your child has developed from the play available, they will always have a challenge waiting.
Positive behaviour management is a significant subject in Early Years as children are only beginning to learn to interact within a larger group. This begins with children being able to recognise and express their emotions in a socially acceptable way. In order to aid children in understanding and expressing their emotions all practitioners begin by getting to know the whole child. They are non-judgemental, patient, and always model “good” interactions and expression. We know that children may not always be able to articulate their needs and emotions; it is up to us to facilitate growth in PSED through it being a focused area for the unit, especially at entry times. During their first term we focus on the Prime areas of the curriculum (Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, Physical Development).
Difficult interactions between children will be addressed through discussion and solution methods. All children will express their feelings, respond to the feelings of others and work together to come to a resolution. This method fosters confidence, language and independent problem-solving skills.
Our main aim is to create independent, confident children, with a positive self-image and wellbeing, that are able to problem solve independently, seeking assistance from adults when required.
Through play children get time to focus extensively on building relationships and learning to negotiate and be more considerate of the feelings and choices of others around them. They develop their language skills in sharing ideas, thoughts and feelings with adults and other children.
We recognise that Parents are vital in a child’s development and have played the role of the teacher for their children since birth. We work closely with families and consider you to be our partners in your child’s transition to school. We will ensure that:
there is a constant and open flow of communication between us through talks as you drop off and pick up your child.
Termly parent meetings to discuss support, progress and next steps.
We use WOW books that are transferable between home and school. This book allows us to build a portfolio of accomplishments your child will achieve both at home and in school.
Parent workshops and activity afternoons where you are invited into the classroom to enjoy some of the learning your child is working on.
Most importantly, we have an open-door policy so parents can arrange to come and talk to us whenever you need to.
We endeavour to make you feel as though you are in the classroom and children will also gain a better sense of security when they can see all the adults working to support them as a team.
We believe that children make the most progress when leading their learning in a play-based environment. Each of our classrooms are set up with learning opportunities that can be explored through play.
When children are playing their learning and exploration become a part of their passion. They are more likely to explore all areas of the curriculum and engage in activities that they may be more reluctant to enjoy in a seated lesson. Children also use multiple curricular areas simultaneously when engaging in play. Staff here are always engaging with the children which ensures staff are modelling and enhancing the learning for each individual child.
It is proven that when children have the independence and time to explore and extend their learning, they are more likely to feel pride and confidence in their accomplishments. Play also encourages creativity, imagination and problem solving.
St. Luke’s Early Years is gifted with generous indoor space for children to be able to engage in their play and develop their interests without feeling overwhelmed. We are also lucky enough to have 3 large outdoor spaces that have a cover so that, no matter the weather, children can enjoy the outdoors. This ensures that all the classroom learning can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors depending on the child’s preference. Staff plan around the children’s needs and interests weekly and adapt planning when new learning appears during play.
Learning and Development
We ensure that each classroom and outdoor space is set up for children to have access to all 7 areas of the Early Years curriculum:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Communication and Language
Understanding the World
Expressive Art and Design
To support children’s learning we also provide daily focus/ carpet sessions for adults to lead and encourage new learning opportunities.
In Nursery children will engage in:
A story time session each day where an adult will share and discuss stories with the children.
Daily focus sessions which are small group (4-6 children) sessions where the adult can support, develop language, encourage new interests and extend the topic.
During the summer term they will begin small group Jolly Phonics sessions.
In Reception children will engage in:
A daily small group Jolly Phonics session.
A literacy or math carpet session which is then followed by a focus group (4-8 children) task.
A story session where the class can listen to and discuss stories to develop a love of reading.
A shared reading session which allows children to take an active role in reading stories and learning aspects of a book such as author, illustrator, text directionality.
In the Spring and Summer term this shared reading session will progress into a Daily Supported Reading Program where children will read 2 books a week in groups of 6 with an adult.
Top tips for new parents starting with us
If after reading all of this and hopefully visiting the school, you have applied for a place and have been successful, then here are a few things to think about ahead of joining us.
We will arrange a home visit with you and your child before starting school to allow us to get to know them and yourselves a bit better. This will help us best prepare for your child’s start.
At the home visit you will receive a start date. This date will be later than the first day of school to allow us to settle the children in, but it will be within the first few weeks of September.
Please remember that settling in is a process so you will need to allow for a few days to settle your child in (shorter school days will be set and we will increase hours when you child is settling well).
Please send your child with spare clothing that they can keep in school when they start and a water bottle.
We provide hot lunches, or you can send in a healthy school lunch if you prefer.
The staff are here to support you all as a family so please make sure you allow time to settle your child and talk to all the staff on your first day!
We understand that lots of schools may say the same things about the provision, however parents have different experiences. Here is some feedback that we have received from our parents.
‘We felt that St. Luke’s reception team are dedicated and passionate in ensuring our daughter’s true potential flourish and develop. They use different techniques that are vital for her to progress further confidently.’
‘(He)was welcomed with such enthusiasm and has had the attention and help to hone in on his ability and bring out new skills.’
‘From the moment we walked into the Reception classroom, we felt that we were making the right decision choosing St Luke’s for our daughter. The classroom is bright, colourful and inviting with indoor and outdoor space and a variety of play areas set up. The staff are warm, welcoming and well informed; our daughter felt comfortable from her very first encounter with her teachers. They are nurturing and compassionate and genuinely care about the children’s wellbeing and learning. The feedback on learning and progress, particularly during lockdown has been outstanding and is a testament to each teachers’ commitment to the child’s individual development. There is also a strong focus on core values such as kindness, respect, honesty and more. Our daughter has made lovely friends and St Luke’s feels like an extension of our family.’
'My experience of Early Years at St Luke’s has only been positive. At the open day I attended the main things that struck me were the friendliness and accessibility of staff, the focus on learning through play & the space you have for the children to explore. It was a set up & focus I had not experienced elsewhere, and I found it inspiring. If I am honest, I was a little concerned about large class sizes and wondered if my son would get ‘lost’ in a large group, but I couldn’t have been more wrong - we have found the individualised care for my son (& I am sure all the children) exemplary. I have also been hugely impressed by the collaborative nature of the school’s work – My partner and I have been so thankful that you have wanted to listen to our thoughts and concerns and have been so flexible in addressing these things.'
'At St Luke’s, it always feels like the teachers are working with you and your child to achieve your child’s full potential.'