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Academy Improvement

The importance of EYFS at ATT – Iceni Academy

In our second piece on our approach to Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), we speak to Iceni Academy’s Assistant Principal, Emma Owner on their early years, considering the journey they’ve been on since joining ATT through to their plans and aims since achieving a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating in July 2016.

 

Challenge 

Iceni Academy joined the ATT family in January 2013. An all through school for pupils aged 4 to 16; the academy is located in Norfolk with pupils from a variety of rural and forces backgrounds going to their separate primary and secondary sites. In particular, at EYFS level, baseline figures for those pupils entering the academy are below average age related attainment.

Upon opening as Iceni Academy, the academy was just three months on from being rated as Requires Improvement (Oct 2012) by Ofsted, moving up from Special Measures.  A baseline review was completed by The Trust alongside Iceni Assistant Principal Emma Owner, highlighting the areas of improvement needed, particularly in EYFS.

Strategy

Following the review, the ATT academy improvement team, working alongside Emma who couples her role as Assistant Principal with being the EYFS lead at Iceni, developed a robust improvement plan. Using this, coupled with strategically set milestones, outlined the route to move the EYFS offering to Good and Outstanding.

This starts from when the pupils first enter early years and the transition arrangements into the academy. Ensuring pupils feel comfortable and confident is key to their learning, with taster sessions, teacher and teaching assistant home and nursery visits, building those relationships early on in their learning. These are followed up with parental surveys to ensure the transition was good and to highlight any potential improvements for future cohorts. Interaction with parents also continues through the half termly target settings, when they are invited into class to discuss their child’s progress.

Making sure pupils are happy in the learning extends to their time in the academy. At Iceni, emphasis is put on the pupils to decide which books they want to read and ideas they want to write about, including on the writing walls. Those more able pupils have access to fun folders whilst daily booster sessions support those not making as much progress as their peers.

Support and training is also provided to the teachers and teaching assistants. All of Iceni’s Teaching Assistants (TAs) are at level 3 or equivalent and EYFS teachers participate in The Trust’s forums, which have included visits to early excellence and outstanding settings alongside being able to share best practice with other ATT EFYS colleagues. As Emma says, “we have great TAs, we all work really well together!” 

Back in the classroom, teachers also undergo a variety of observations including longer, simpler, ‘catch as you can’ and photo observations, which ensure that teaching continues to be of the highest standards. This is supported by The Trust’s vigorous data tracking system which provides insight into progress and achievement, and highlights any additional support which is needed.

Outcome

In July 2016, Iceni’s EYFS offering was rated as Good by Ofsted as part of an overall Good awarded to the academy. It reflected the significant strides undertaken by the academy since joining ATT. At EYFS, this was substantiated by the continued increase in the Good Level of Development (GLD) result with an 11% increase from 2015 to 83% against a national average. of 69.3% in 2016.

Going forward, the aim is to ensure their high ability EYFS pupils achieve their full potential. With improving relationships with local nurseries and pre-schools particularly on the teaching of phonics, alongside insights into outstanding settings as part of ATT’s forums, Iceni are on their way to achieving Outstanding and ensuring all pupils move into the next stage of primary learning having made the best progress they can.

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