Places to Play incorporates two complementary publications which have been a big hit with practitioners across Hertfordshire. User-friendly and packed with photographs, together they provide an accessible guide to providing – and evaluating – a first-class learning environment for every three- to five-year-old in the setting.
The first book covers all the practical aspects of equipping, including the adult’s role, the range of resources that should be provided, the skills that need to be taught in each area and the expected behaviours for learning. To support this, the companion book provides a means of ongoing evaluation to measure quality and support continuous improvement.
A priority has been to make the information easy to read, with lists of specific resources recommended for each area. The photos show resources, storage, displays and ideas for maximising learning and engagement. There are outlines of the skills that children might be expected to develop by accessing this environment.
Since the launch of the publications last October, more than 500 copies of the guidance books and more than 400 of the audits have been purchased and used across the county and beyond to support the development of high-quality early years learning environments.
Impetus for the books came from practitioners and teacher feedback, through Herts for Learning’s School Improvement service, which suggested that early years educators needed more guidance on how to set up stimulating environments. The School Improvement team produced content based on research that emphasises the importance of a rich, varied and well-organised environment to promote positive outcomes for all children.
Places to Play helps practitioners to reflect and evaluate each area of their provision. Susie Read, EYFS leader at Fairlands Primary School, says, ‘These resources have really helped to evaluate our current provision. The audits have been brilliant in helping us identify gaps within the different areas and make changes, as well as look deeply into how the provision supports children’s skill development and learning.’
The presentation has been well-received. ‘The photographs are really helpful as they give a good visual representation of what high-quality EYFS provision looks like,’ says EYFS leader at Knutsford Primary School, Katie Butler.
The books are also proving useful for budgeting. As EYFS leader Tracy Young, at Ashwell Primary School, says, ‘They have enabled us to effectively audit our resources, which has helped in turn to inform our budget requirements. Ultimately it has encouraged us to be more inventive with what we are providing for our children.’
‘Fantastic guidance and audits that have successfully enabled me to monitor the quality of provision in the early years to support self-evaluation and development,' says one head teacher.
The Foodtalk Game, Focus Games
SMART pd, Pre-School Learning Alliance
Will you be my friend?, Bloomsbury Education
Open to EY resources and equipment that help improve practice/provision