Early Years

The Learning Journey at St. John’s Church of England Academy

As your child embarks upon their learning journey at St. John’s, the themes, aims, principles and values within the Early Years Foundation Stage will underpin their experience and they will be given opportunities to learn actively through play and exploration whilst being enabled to create and think critically. We deliver the curriculum in an exciting and creative way, responding as much as possible ‘in the moment’ to the children’s interests, ideas and needs with sensitivity to meet each child’s diverse and unique, spiritual, social, emotional, physical and cognitive learning and development.


Learning, Development and Care

We begin by making judgements using the Leuven Scales* to identify each child’s levels of well-being and involvement – two important indicators of quality. We use observational assessments to capture each child’s characteristics of effective learning and their learning and developmental stage within each strand of the seven areas of learning.

Our day is organised to maximise the periods of sustained uninterrupted play so that we can encourage and facilitate in-depth exploration. During this time we play and interact with the children and consider how best to develop a child’s learning by responding to their interests, needs, thoughts and ideas ‘in the moment’.

In September, our observations inform a baseline for each child to establish their starting point and from then on, we begin a cycle of ‘focus groups’, informal observational assessments and spontaneous planning to document learning and development in Rowan Class - Reception. Observation outcomes inform our planning and provision and are acted upon immediately. We liaise closely with parents and carers to gather their knowledge of their child and to share ours so that we may work together in the interests of each child. 

Our aim is, through the vehicle of play and exploration, to provide opportunities for each child to learn and develop using indoor and outdoor spaces. 

We encourage each child to…

  •          Talk at length, make choices, decisions and judgements
  •          Express their opinions and ask questions
  •          Test their ideas and draw out conclusions from their learning
  •          Investigate through first-hand experiences
  •          Make connections in their learning to further their understanding
  •          Explore their ideas and develop their fascinations
  •          Take responsibility for their learning, take risks and be curious


The Importance of Play…

Play is an important vehicle for taking on new learning and is an essential part of the learning process.  It enables children to be active learners in a child centred environment.  Play is a powerful medium for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and understanding; it naturally responds to a child’s different developmental needs, their interests and learning styles, providing a play based curriculum ensures children remain at the very heart of our practice.


A Positive ‘Sense of Self’…

We believe that it is the entitlement of everyone to have a positive sense of self and that this is nurtured when self-esteem is high, positive attitudes are fostered towards learning and the utmost importance is given to celebrating individuality. A ‘sense of self’ is based upon equality of opportunity, kindness, patience, dependability and trust.


Effective Teaching and Learning…

We understand that effective teaching and learning is presented by practitioners who research alongside their children, who narrate, question, scaffold, hypothesise and test ideas to prompt reflection and learning and, who are themselves playful. Participation, consistency, shared values, motivation, equality and optimism are at the heart of all we do to encourage the children in our care to become autonomous learners with unlimited potential. We believe that optimum learning takes place in an environment that is safe, calm, and secure and one which offers opportunity for enjoyment, exploration and positive relationships.


The Leuven Scales


Definition of Well-Being 

Well Being is a state of mind that can be recognised by satisfaction, enjoyment and pleasure.  The child is relaxed, they express an inner rest, they feel the energy flow and radiate vitality.  They are open to their surroundings and are flexible.

Well Being ...When children feel at ease and enjoy life, act spontaneously and are open to the world around them.  When they are relaxed and in touch with their feelings and emotions -  we know their mental health is secured.


Definition of Involvement 

Involvement is a quality of human activity.  It can be recognised by concentration and persistence and is characterised by motivation, interest and fascination.  A child displays an openness to stimuli, has intense mental energy, shows deep satisfaction and a strong flow of energy.

Involvement...when children are concentrating and focussed, interested, motivated, fascinated and mentally active.  when they can fully experience sensation and meaning, enjoy an exploratory drive and are operating at the very limits of their capabilities - we know that deep learning is taking place.