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School Readiness

"Children should start school healthy, happy, communicative, sociable, curious, active and ready equipped for the next phase of life and learning"
(Supporting Families in the Foundation Years).

Introduction

This document aims to set out a common understanding of School Readiness for Kent. School Readiness not only refers to the attributes of a child but also the key roles and responsibilities of families, teachers and practitioners in ensuring children are ready and able to access learning as they enter Key Stage 1 and beyond. In Kent we consider children to be ‘School Ready’ if they have achieved a Good Level of Development (GLD) at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and are confident and resilient with a keen, enthusiastic thirst for learning.

Purpose

This document is designed to provide professional guidance for all Early Years professionals working in Early Years and Childcare settings (including Childminders), Children’s Centres and Schools. It is recommended that professionals use it to reflect upon the effectiveness of existing provision and to consider any developments required to ensure children’s School Readiness.

Background

The EYFS provides us with a general definition of School Readiness, though this term can be and often is widely interpreted. The EYFS defines School Readiness as ‘the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.(Statutory Framework for the EYFS 2014)

This document has been developed by the Education and Young People’s Directorate in collaboration with key partners. Our aim is to establish and embed a common understanding of ‘School Readiness’ across all Early Years practitioners in Kent, describing the attributes of a child, the role of the family and practice in Schools, Early Years settings and Children’s Centres that will enable a child to be ‘School Ready’.

Kent’s Definition

We agree with and support UNICEF’s description of ‘School Readiness’ which states that three elements together bolster children’s likelihood of success

  • Children’s readiness for school affects their learning and development
  • Early Years settings and Schools’ readiness for children ensures learning environments are child friendly and adapt to the diverse needs of young learners and their families
  • Families’ readiness for school promotes a positive and supportive approach to education, their children’s learning and the transition from home to school.

It is our belief that it is these three aspects which will maximise each child’s likelihood of success as they progress through their time in school.

What School Readiness is not about, is compliant behaviour, such as the ability to sit still and to line up. Nor is it about embarking too early on a formal approach to learning.

All development and learning for young children is underpinned by play. It is through play that children develop physically, intellectually, creatively, socially and emotionally and gain life skills. How children learn is set out within the characteristics of effective teaching and learning. The Statutory Framework refers to the EYFS Profile at the end of the EYFS as ‘providing parents, practitioners and teachers with a well rounded picture of the child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities, their progress against expected levels and their readiness for school’. In terms of attainment, all areas of learning in the EYFS curriculum are important. We encourage Early Years and Childcare settings, Children’s Centres and Schools to strengthen children’s knowledge and understanding in all these important areas.

Children are defined as having reached a GLD at the end of the EYFS if they achieve at least the expected level in the Early Learning Goals:

  • in the prime areas of learning (personal, social and emotional development; physical development; and communication and language)
  • in the specific areas of mathematics and literacy.

How Early Years and Childcare settings, Schools, Children Centres and families can support a child in becoming ‘ready for school’ and the move to Year One

To become ‘school ready’ children need practitioners, parents and families who support them in in opportunities to

  • feel socially, emotionally and physically secure to enable them to behave appropriately and become confident active learners using all of their senses
  • develop their knowledge, skills and understanding across all areas of learning
  • initiate activities, showing their own initiative and making decisions
  • have time to explore their own ideas and interests in depth, to make links and discuss their learning
  • develop their concentration and becoming deeply involved in activities
  • learn in different ways, at different rates, to recognise that they have learned something new and improved their understanding
  • play and work co-operatively, learning to accept others’ differences, to be resilient and to question
  • play and work independently, at times without close supervision, taking responsibility, for example by caring for their environment
  • know how to keep themselves safe and healthy
  • follow instructions and responding to questions.

To support children in becoming ‘school ready’ practitioners should:

  • have a rich and sensitive understanding of each child’s individual background and experiences and respecting the value of each unique home learning environment
  • develop meaningful and respectful relationships with parents/carers and families to foster their engagement and full involvement and participation in their children’s learning provide effective care for children’s physical, social and emotional needs ensuring that high levels of well being and involvement are supported, enabling deep level learning to take place
  • implement a robust ‘key person’ approach in which adults are sensitive to children’s needs and ensure that needs of groups and individuals are well met
  • practice a fully inclusive approach that meets the diverse needs of all children
  • plan purposeful activities that engage and interest all the children, taking into account individual interests and needs
  • offer a stimulating environment inside and out where continuous provision is sufficiently flexible to meet individual needs, interests and motivations through the different areas of learning
  • offer a good balance between children making purposeful choices about their activities (child initiated), which consolidates learning, and adults initiating and/or directing what they do and teaching specific skills and ensuring progress
  • provide opportunities to extend children’s speaking skills by modelling listening and language expression well, ensuring the needs of children who communicate in alternative ways are met
  • provide active opportunities to teach ‘appropriate’ behaviours (rather than policing) through intrinsic motivation and teaching children how they can look after themselves
  • ensure opportunities for children to exercise independence, autonomy and resilience rather than ‘doing things’ for children.

The Education and Young People’s Directorate supports Early Years and Childcare settings, Schools, Children Centres and families to support children in becoming ‘School Ready’ through the implementation of the Early Years and Childcare Strategy’s Priorities, which include:

  • Making available advice, support and training for Early Years Providers, Children’s Centres and Schools so that more children achieve a GLD at the end of the EYFS
  • A strengthened focus on the narrowing of gaps in achievement by ensuring that children in the early years who may be vulnerable to poorer outcomes (including those with SEND) have their needs identified as early and possible and receive appropriate additional support to develop well
  • Embedding more effective joined up working across and between early education and childcare providers, schools, Children’s Centres , the local authority, health and all other relevant agencies and professionals
  • Embedding collaborative working between private, voluntary and independent group providers of early education and childcare and extending this to include childminders, Children’s Centres and maintained nurseries
  • Embedding the provision of support for parents and families to more effectively engage in their children’s learning from the very earliest years
  • Continuing to ensure the availability of free, high quality early education places for eligible two year-olds
  • Supporting improved continuity and progression in learning for all children by improving current approaches to transition
  • Ensure that increasing levels of all Early Years provision are good or outstanding
  • Ensuring a comprehensive workforce development offer across all sectors, designed to address gaps in qualifications and other training, including those related to inequalities.

Supporting Documents

School Readiness: a conceptual framework

Summer-born children ‘to get the right to start school later’

Supporting families in the Foundation Years

Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage