Children start school aged 4 at Oakfield, entering in the final year of the Early Years Foundation Stage (Foundation 2). The 60 Foundation Stage children operate as one unit known collectively as Saplings, but within this they are split into two groups for registration: Oak and Ash. The children start and end each day in their registration group, but for the majority of the day they flow freely between the two class bases, the art area and the outside play areas.
The children start school in September and spend a year in Foundation, during which we gradually prepare them for learning in their future school career. Our main aim, initially, is to ensure that the children are happy, settled and confident with their friends, adults and the school environment. From this follows their ability to become more independent, together with being inquisitive learners and good communicators.
Our beautiful new purpose-built Saplings Unit was opened in September 2011. It comprises two class bases and a shared cloakroom area, art area and outside area. Secure entry via keypad ensures the children’s safety at all times. The unit is staffed with two full time teachers, two full time and two part time Teaching Assistants plus regular volunteers.
During the course of the year the Saplings children gradually integrate with the main part of the school making full use of the facilities available such as eating lunch in the dining room, attending school assemblies, using the ICT suite and swimming in the school pool in the Summer term.
The new Foundation Stage curriculum (from September 2012) has 7 areas of learning and development: Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED), Communication and Language and Physical Development are known as the 3 ‘prime areas’ as these are fundamental to children’s development. Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design are called the 4 ‘specific areas’, and these areas offer essential skills and knowledge for the children to develop.
These 7 areas of learning are closely linked and help to develop ‘characteristics of effective learning’ within the children – playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically.
In the Foundation Stage children learn through play and much of their play is child led, supported by the adults in the unit. As the year progresses there are an increasing number of adult led activities offered which further supports their learning. Each term we plan an overarching theme, and within this the majority of the weekly and daily planning is taken from the children’s lead following their interests. We always endeavour to make the children’s experiences in learning as real as possible, for example through educational visits out, interesting visitors in, and through real life role play such as the Saplings flight day.
Each child is assigned a key person when they start in Saplings. Your child’s key person is there to help support you and your child, especially in the early days of starting school. This person will also make sure that your child’s learning and care is tailored to meet their individual needs, through discussion with you.