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Academy Improvement

The importance of EYFS at ATT – Sun Academy Bradwell

In our third piece on our approach to Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), we speak to Sun Academy Bradwell’s Principal, Bobbie Caisley on their early years, considering the journey they’ve been on, joining ATT in September 2015 and their plans for the future.

 

Challenge

Sun Academy Bradwell joined the ATT family in September 2015. A one form entry primary academy based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, the school was rated as Requires Improvement in June 2015 prior to joining ATT.

At early years, pupils usually enter the academy with below average results for age related attainment. This was emphasised by the first entry cohort upon joining The Trust, with 75%  of pupils below the age related expectation 40-60 months attainment bracket. When joining the ATT family, Sun underwent a baseline review, alongside Principal Bobbie Caisley, which highlighted the strengths and areas of improvements needed, including early years.

Strategy

Despite being rated as Requires Improvement in June 2015, Ofsted recognised the strength of Sun’s EYFS offering. The report stated “Children in the nursery and reception classes…make good progress. This is because of Good and occasionally Outstanding teaching”. This was supported with a strong EYFS baseline review from ATT, which recognised there were a number of positive and robust strategies already in place, which have provided a key platform for further improvement.

At the heart of this has been to engage pupils in their learning. Immersion strategies via the Aspiring Authors programme aim to stimulate pupils’ understanding and improve their writing. These engaging lessons are via a thematic approach, where many areas of the curriculum are linked together via a theme. Sessions such as dressing up as literacy characters like the big bad wolf and the three little pigs create scenes which are rich in vocabulary and stimulate discussions, ideas and writing.

This is supplemented with the use of the Jolly Phonics scheme.  This approach to literacy is based on the 42 letter sounds and teaches children the key skills of reading and writing via grammar, spelling and punctuation. Jolly Phonics is used throughout their primary education giving them continuity and consistency during their time at Sun.

Engagement in pupils learning is also supported with parental involvement. Parents are invited to take part in learning mornings, which is evidenced in their learning logs, whilst parents of EAL pupils are invited into school to share culture and festival information. This develops pupils’ wider understanding and their sense of community.

Learning is underpinned with ambitious targets set for all pupils to ensure they make good progress. Regular tracking systems allow teachers to assess pupil progress and achievement, with performance management firmly rooted in their progress and attainment results.

CPD is targeted at key areas aimed at improving the quality of teaching. Joint planning and peer observation ensure that teaching continues to be of the highest standards. This is supported by The Trust’s forums and visits to outstanding settings allow for the sharing of best practice both within ATT EYFS colleagues and further afield.

Outcomes

Summer 2016 saw Sun achieve their best ever early year’s results, which have followed a positive three year trend. This has seen their Good Level of Development (GLD) rise from 53% in 2014 to 70% in 2016, above the 69.3% 2016 national average. As an RI rated academy prior to joining ATT, their next step is to achieve a much coveted Good Ofsted rating with Outstanding for their early years offering.

Going forward, the aim is to continue to challenge and stretch their more able pupils so that progress leads to those exceeding their early learning goals. There is also a future focus on communication and language, with the use of the outdoors to enhance higher order thinking and debate and reasoning within the pupils learning.

With superb links with parents supported by the insights into higher order settings and shared best practice, Sun are well on their way to achieving Outstanding and providing pupils with the opportunities to be the best they can be.

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