Thank you for considering Thirsk Primary school to provide the early years education and care for your child. It is no easy task- sending your child to school for their first day and we really do understand all the different emotions that are attached to this moment! Our team and classrooms are ready to give the gentle and supportive environment to ensure your child reaches their potential.
Early Years at Thirsk Community Primary School -The HIVE!
Welcome to Early Years
Thank you for considering Thirsk Primary school to provide the early years education and care for your child. It is no easy task- sending your child to school for their first day and we really do understand all the different emotions that are attached to this moment! With this in mind, we work very hard to build trusting and communicative relationships with all our parents, as well as the children.
At Thirsk Community Primary School we take the Early Years very seriously, recognising this crucial stage of development when the foundation for all future learning is being set. We endeavour to provide only the best professionals to work with you and your child.
Mrs Wall is the Early Years teacher. She is very passionate about teaching in the Early Years and has worked with young children for over twenty years. Mrs Wall holds two degrees, one relating to the science aspect of early childhood development, and one regarding quality early years teaching. Mrs Wall has Qualified Teacher Status, but also has an additional qualification called Early Years Professional Status- this reflects her knowledge and expertise of working with young children. Furthermore, she is an Early Years Lead teacher for North Yorkshire County Council, providing support and advice for all Early Years settings.
Level Three Childcare and Development Teaching Assistant
We also have the most amazing Early Years TA, Miss Wood. Miss Wood holds a level three qualification in early childhood education and care, and is currently studying a Foundation Degree in Early Education.
The Early Years team will want to get to know you and your child really well, so that they can ensure your child is happy, and feels safe and secure at school. Mrs Wall often refers to the Early class and the adults in it as ‘our school family’. This is because it is very important to us that your child feels a sense of belonging and part of school community. We know that when children feel this way, and when the parent- teacher relationship is strong, we can support learning and help your child develop to their full potential.
One of the ways in which we build a communicative relationship with parents is by using our online journal Tapestry. This is a sharing tool between school and home. The Early Years team can send pictures and observations to your phone so that you can see what your child is learning at school. We actively encourage you to send us things as well!
We also use Tapestry to send you weekly news and reminders about special events.
Singing and Reading
We take singing and storytelling very seriously, as we know that this will make children good and confident readers as they move up school. Every child in Early Years is signed up to Thirsk Library- who run a pop-up events in the classroom every half term. All of our children bring books home from the Library, as well as from school. Nursery children also visit the Library once a half term. We know that it is really important to inspire a love of books in the Early Years, so that your child wants to become a reader. Your child will bring home a new story that they have chosen from class for you to share at home. Both Nursery and Reception children will be given a Reading Record for you to fill in at home. Story books will be changed in the class when we have seen that the book has been shared.
As well as a story book, our Reception children will receive a reading book matched to their phonic level starting from their second week of school in September. At Thirsk Community Primary School, we use, ‘Everybody, Every night’ as our approach to reading. The expectation is that an adult at home will listen to their child read every night and complete the Reading Record to show this. Reading Records are checked daily by a member of the Reading Team, a group of people who monitor records and read with our children across the school.
Singing- Rhyme Time
We sing every day! We learn a new rhyme every week and practice it until children know it off by heart. Learning songs helps teach about rhythm and rhyme, helping children to actively tune into speech and sound patterns. This is the first stage of becoming a reader and writer! We always link our songs to our theme or topic, so that the children can make links across their learning. Our younger children also learn a lot of Number through rhymes and action songs.
Reading – Story Time
The favourite part of the day for our children is usually story time. We do this every day. Sometimes we focus on one book for a whole week, other times we may choose to do one book a day- it really depends on the learning objective and the book. We support children in ‘unpicking’ the text, asking open ended questions and explaining the meaning of vocabulary. We choose stories that match our theme or topic, stories that are fun, engaging, and that the children can join in with! During story time we have focused Wow Words, these are words that are taken directly from the text, or words that are related to our theme or topic. These words are then threaded throughout our provision, to enable the adults to use them in meaningful interaction with the children. An example from Winter includes using the Wow Word ‘Transform’ alongside the ice related experiments we had going on in the classroom!
Letter and Sounds – the Little Wandle Programme
Letters and Sounds is a systematic programme produced by the Department for Education. The programme aims to build children's speaking and listening skills, as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. In particular, the programme supports linking sounds and letters in the order in which they occur in words, naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet in relation to the frequency they appear in our written and spoken language. The programme is also grounded in speech sound development, ensuring that children are being taught what is developmentally appropriate. In Letters and Sounds there are six overlapping phases, these begin in Nursery with the aim that children are fluent and confident readers by the end of Year 2.
Phonics teaching and learning is very active and interactive in for our youngest children in Nursery, we make it hands on and practical whenever we can because we know that young children learn by doing. The early priority is good listening and attention skills, once these are strong children are ready for a more formal approach to phonics.
Phase One (Typically Nursery) Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
Phase Two (Typically Nursery/ Reception) Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three (Typically Reception) The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
Phase Four (Typically Reception) No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Play Based Curriculum
Like all other Early Years providers, we follow the Foundation Stage Curriculum. We use observation to plan and resource an environment and activities to meet individual needs. These are shared with you on Tapestry, and also in paper Learning Journals. Our approach really values what is termed as the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’. This means we provide opportunities for children to engage in open ended activities and explore using all their senses. Within this we encourage the children to take risks and build resilience. By the time our children begin their Key Stage One, they are independent thinkers who are willing to have a go at anything!
The curriculum is spilt into seven areas of learning. These areas are then divided into Prime and Specific areas. In Nursery the Prime Areas are the ‘bread and butter’ of everything we do. These areas are Communication and Language, Personal and Social, and Physical Development. The Early Years team work to ensure these Prime Areas are secure, assessments for these areas will inform the first parents meeting you have with Mrs Wall- at the end of the first half term.
The remaining areas are Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Knowledge and Understanding of the World and Creative Development. As children grow older, or as it becomes developmentally appropriate, a greater focus is put on the Specific areas of the curriculum, these being Reading, Writing and Mathematics. There is a broad and balanced approach to what is offered to the children daily, our everyday provision reflects the needs, interest, and talents of all our children. The way in which the adults work with, and plan for, the children ensures that they receive a tailored learning experience. The routine timetables overleaf demonstrate how your Nursery or Reception child will be spending their time.
The detailed planning for the Core Provisions upholds the Development Matters section of the Early Years Foundation Stage, this means that all the developmental milestones that children should achieve are planned for. The carefully planned provision coupled with our regular assessment and weekly/ termly planning- ensures that every child has learning opportunities for them as an individual. Our team are ready to give the gentle and supportive environment to ensure your child reaches their potential.
At Thirsk Primary School we teach ‘Super Skills’, throughout the school. These skills are; Ready, Respectful, Fantastic Focus, Aid and Assist, Explain and Elaborate. Each of these refer to a learning behaviour that children need to gain to have a mastery learning disposition, ie they give the children the skills they need to be good learners. In Early Years we use a reward system based on these. The rewards are varied, from playing musical bumps, to ten minutes of Alphablocks on the big screen! We also send home certificates, so keep an eye on book bags for these!
In the Early Years Personal, Social and Emotional development is a crucial area of learning. A lot of what the team do is to support this. The most popular is Super Friend – a reward system for caring behaviour. When a child has shown this, they are awarded the Super Friend cape and a certificate. The child gets to wear the cape for thirty minutes and we actively encourage everyone to congratulate them. At the review session at the end of each part of the day, we discus who has shown Super Friend behaviour. These behaviours include: comforting someone if they are upset, sharing and taking turns, working as a team, being careful and respectful of property and being polite.
Parents as Partners
We can only provide the best environment for your child when we work together. You will always be the child’s first and most enduring educator, we know that a strong partnership with you leads to better outcomes in regards attainment, but also makes happy children. We have an ‘open door’ policy and will always work to establish and maintain an honest and trusting relationship with you. There is no problem we cannot overcome together! Our main source of contact is Tapestry, so please check this regularly. You can also contact Mrs Wall directly on this.
Early Years children play outside every day, they have a legal requirement to it. So, come rain or shine- the children have the option to be outdoors. We have a lot of hands on experiences outside, including a digging pit, mud kitchen, sensory garden and big water play. They do get very messy! We do provide all-in-ones, but it is a requirement that your child has a named pair wellies that are kept at school. We also recommend a waterproof coat! We also suggest that a small bag with spare clothes is kept on their peg for the term. We will send it home if clothes from it have been used.
As we send books and reading records home, we also suggest buying a book bag from the School office. Whilst in Nursery your child does not have to wear the school uniform, but most choose to. Reception children are required to wear uniform, considering how messy our children can get, there are many places where similar clothing to the official uniform can be purchased. If you would like an official jumper or cardigan, these can be ordered from the office. PLEASE NAME ALL CLOTHING!!
All Reception children are eligible to receive a free school lunch under the Universal Free School Meal offer. The menus are shared half termly on our Facebook page, and in the newsletters.
The 30 hour funding and 15 hour AM sessions are offered to children who become Reception the next academic year. There is no top up to be paid for either funding. You might also qualify for extra sessions if Early Years Pupil Premium funding is applicable.
Nursery Sessions are;
8.40 – 11.40 am (15 hours morning sessions) Monday to Friday
8.40 – 3.00 pm (30 hours full day funding) Monday to Friday
Breakfast and After School Club
There is a breakfast and after school club available for all children from 3- 11 years old. You will need to speak to a member of office staff to book into this.
Transition to school can be a big challenge for our young children, even if they have attended a different setting previously. We work really hard to ensure that every child is eager to come to school and feels happy and secure, but we need your support in doing this. Due to Covid 19, we have not being able to offer the settling in sessions and the home visits. But rest assured your children will still receive a transition period, where dates and times are staggered to allow the team to work with smaller groups whilst the children settle in.