Welcome to Early Years at Hillbrook
We understand that starting school is a huge step in your child’s life. Here at Hillbrook we believe that your child deserves the best possible start to their education.
We aim to make the transition into Hillbrook as smooth as possible and to provide a welcoming, supportive, caring, happy, secure and stimulating environment where your child is given equal opportunities to develop and learn, in a way and at a pace appropriate to them as individuals.
We strive to maintain high standards in care and education for the benefit of all our children. Our highly experienced and caring staff work closely with parents and careers so that your child is happy and settled and gains the maximum benefit from all we have to offer.
Our Curriculum Intent and approach to learning
Here at Hillbrook our curriculum emphasis is placed on learning through well-structured and purposeful play, developing not only future academic potential but also, and equally importantly, the emotional and social skills of your child.
Our play-based curriculum delivers a wide and varied learning experience, which is enriched through creative thinking and focusses on our community and on our school values. We recognise the uniqueness of each child and value your child’s interests. We aim to deliver learning through a combination of adult-led and child-initiated play, based on prior experiences and interests of the children. We teach children how to make considered choices in their learning and most importantly, the skills needed to be independent, lifelong learners.
Our curriculum is delivered mainly through topic-based planning. We teach children individually, in small groups, and as a whole class. Through a combination of teacher input and continuous provision opportunities, learning is planned to encourage children to develop their learning independently through exploration and challenge.
During your child’s time in Early Years they will follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework (EYFS), which consists of seven areas of learning.
- Communication and language: development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment, develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
- Physical development: this involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive. It helps to develop their co-ordination, control and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
- Personal, social and emotional development: this involves helping children to develop a positive sense of both themselves and others around them. It helps them to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.
- Literacy: development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters, helping them begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to help ignite their interest.
- Mathematics: this involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems and to help them describe shapes, spaces and measures.
- Understanding the world: this involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community by providing opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
- Expressive arts and design: this involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology.
The Characteristics of Effective Learning underpin our curriculum and your child’s learning. Through an enabling and well-planned environment, we ensure provision of meaningful opportunities for playing and learning, active learning and creating and thinking critically. As your child utilises and develops these characteristics, they become effective and motivated learners who demonstrate high levels of well-being and involvement.
Our Early Years classes are situated on the ground floor of London Brick building so children have easy access to a large outdoor space. Our Early Years playground is safe and secure and our Nursery and Reception children have sole use of the area. Our playground space uses natural materials and a blank canvas to inspire the children’s creativity through construction, role play and physical movement. Both the indoor and outdoor areas are considered of equal importance in providing our children with a wide range of opportunities that will engage and excite them and that are age-appropriate and relevant to their needs.
Assessments in Early Years
When children start in Nursery and Reception they will undertake a baseline assessment in order to ascertain stages of development, strengths and needs. In Reception this begins with the ‘Reception baseline assessment’ which is a national assessment. This is a short task-based assessment that lasts approximately 20 minutes. Assessments are used to identify children’s progress and find out areas where they are less confident, these assessments are then used to inform teachers’ lesson planning and next steps in learning.
Parent Partnership and our Online Learning Journal
At Hillbrook we invest a significant amount of time building relationships with parents as we feel a strong parent partnership is key to a successful Early Years’ experience for our children and for them to gain the most out of their early education and reach expected levels of development.
Class teachers and support staff will share any necessary information at the beginning and end of the day and will update you on how your child is getting on at school through termly parent meetings, year group emails and our online learning platform ‘Evidence Me’. Evidence Me records, tracks and shares your child’s learning journey at Hillbrook. Evidence Me also allows a greater degree of communication between home and school, and you can take an active role in contributing to your child’s learning journey by uploading your own observations, simply adding these via the app or website.
We recognise that this is an important time for both you and your child and so we hope you have found this information helpful. A video of our Early Years in action, can be found here. I hope this video will give you a sense of the ethos and life of Early Years at Hillbrook. We look forward to you and your child joining Hillbrook.