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Academy Improvement

The importance of EYFS at ATT – Our approach

Over the next month, we’ll be looking at our approach to Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) at ATT and across our academies. In our first piece, we consider our Trust wide approach with the help of our EYFS lead Matt Potts.

 

Academy Transformation Trust believes that every child matters and deserves a first class education. To achieve this, we give our academies and our pupils everything they need to realise their full potential.

This starts with our pupils who are just beginning their education. Early years are some of the most important times for learning. It is the foundation for future education both in primary and secondary phases and beyond.

The importance of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) education is evidenced by several studies. As stated in a Department for Education report on EYFS achievement in 2010, pupils who achieved a good level of development at the end of EYFS went on to exceed expectations in reading and maths at the end of KS1. A further DfE publication in 2014 identified that a successful start to education could be worth an estimated £27,000 in the individuals salary over the course of their working career.

The introduction of the EYFS statutory framework in September 2014 highlighted the importance of this period of learning. At the same time, an early year’s judgement was added to Ofsted reports and set four principles which the framework seeks to provide:

  • quality and consistency in all early years settings
  • a secure foundation through learning and development opportunities
  • partnership working between practitioners and with parents and/or carers
  • equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported.

At ATT, we’re proud that all of our primary academies that have been inspected since joining The Trust have had their early years settings rated as Good by Ofsted.

To make sure we deliver on our promise to do everything we can to give children the very best education, we have developed strategies which focus on improving early years teaching based on collaborative work across our academies.

ATT EYFS lead Improvement Director Matt Potts says: “the Early Years leaders and practitioners, alongside Principals and link governors are working together to drive standards up across the country for the youngest members of our academy communities.”

Assessment

These strategies start from when the pupils first enter the reception class with our baseline assessment system.  This aims to:

  • provide a consistent and relative progress measure for each cohort and child
  • enable teachers to plan effectively
  • provide one clear system of progress and attainment measure through ‘Development Matters’ guidance
  • ensure each child reaches their full potential

As a child then moves through their primary education, this provides an understanding of their achievement, interests and learning styles which then shapes their own learning experiences.

Whilst this provides a framework, it also gives freedom for our academies to shape their pupils learning, as Matt adds: “We see play and learning as one and the same thing. We do not seek to formalise a set way to learn but look at innovative ways to share good practice that will maximise progress and make huge impact on our children”.

This is supported with ongoing formative assessments which feed into The Trust’s overall assessment schedule.

Moderation and Forums

With academies across the country, ensuring that our assessment results are relative to each academy and each cohort is vital. Moderation therefore plays a key part in the process and forms an important element of our termly forums, to ensure our teaching, marking and data is robust and reliable.

The subjects and topics of the forums are underpinned by the audit of provision for each academy which is conducted at the start of each year. This brings together assessments and results to formulate what their priorities are and the support each academy needs for the following year.

These forums also provide a great way of sharing ideas internally and bringing in external influences, especially as we move our academies toward Outstanding. Matt goes on: “We want teachers to inspire and motivate children, whilst focussing on developing the basics of language acquisition, numbers, reading, writing and physical development. Our strength also comes in working across academies to inspire and help each other to develop exciting learning and key skills that will last a lifetime.”

Our academies have the opportunity to extend their personal development both in and outside of ATT. Our annual ATT Staff Day brings together all our staff for a full day of learning and idea sharing whilst the EYFS forum has included visits to outstanding settings including the Early Excellence Centre in Huddersfield. These visits have proved invaluable in sharing good practice and inspiring our teachers back in their classrooms.

Matt adds: “The partnership work with The Trust enables teachers to share good practice, engage in high quality professional development and have the tools and backing to ensure our early year’s phases go from strength to strength. They are aiming for Outstanding in all they do!”

With the majority of our primary academies having undergone an Ofsted inspection and been rated as Good since joining ATT, we are now looking forward to them moving to Outstanding and providing our pupils with all they need to reach their full potential.

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