Since the first 60 four-year-olds joined the school in 2016, St Paul's has provided a loving, caring ethos for all who attend. The staff in the Reception class show absolute commitment in getting to know each child as an individual, building relationships with everyone who is important in their lives; from families and extended families to cats, dogs, goldfish and even imaginary friends.
The positive relationships the team creates with each child in the setting enables them to adapt and work with children to create an environment which supports learning and development. Staff listen and watch and are sensitive and responsive to the children's needs, feelings and interests, always finding ways to provide rich learning opportunities across the prime and specific areas of learning and development, while fostering the Characteristics of Effective Learning.
The school provides a free-flow environment, with the children enjoying year-round access to the outdoors as well as to two airy, purpose-built classrooms. In their Reception year, regular child-initiated activities are on offer, including sewing, fire-making, cooking, woodwork, bike-riding and climbing.
Children in the setting lead their own learning, accessing and using the environment in their own ways, with their views and ideas taken into account and valued.
A regular event in the week is ‘Walkabout Wednesday’, when children visit their local area, gaining an appreciation of their place within the community. The children have also initiated a variety of activities including visiting Asda to buy ingredients for cooking, spending time in Richmond Park, litter-picking and writing and delivering letters to the local council.
Staff recognise parents as their children's primary educators and work hard on developing a relationship with them from the start, throughout the transition process into Reception and again when children move on to Year 1. Throughout the year they hold sessions to help parents with supporting their child's journey through school.
Staff tell children when they do any training and talk to them about the types of learning they have been doing and why, things they may have found difficult, and model their use of the Characteristics of Effective Learning.
Having set up a new Reception class in a former junior school, practitioners enjoy working closely with the junior staff and observing how they have adapted their practice, influenced by aspects of the ethos of the early years. Early years practitioners have also learned from the junior staff, and together the two teams have worked to form one cohesive primary school.
With a range of feeder nurseries, the setting works closely with its neighbours, and has set up a local Keeping Early Years Unique (KEYU) group, including organising two networking events for more than 60 practitioners.
Staff at St Paul's have put every last drop of energy and effort into making the new Reception class a true early years experience within a school setting.
“Strong development, principled work
Gateways School, Leeds
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For Early Years Foundation Stage or equivalent provision in primary schools which have developed high-quality practice for nursery and Reception children