Early Years Accredited as an Area of Excellence!

Click here to read the full Challenge Partners report 2024

Who are Challenge Partners?
Challenge Partners is a national education charity, established and led by practitioners with a mission to reduce educational inequality and improve the life chances of all children. In-person Quality Assurance Reviews (QARs) have always been at the heart of the Network of Excellence, providing the challenge that is in the name. Professionally-led peer reviews focus on how approaches to curriculum, pedagogy and leadership benefit all learners, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds or with additional needs. It identifies and celebrates exceptional practice, helping each school to identify what they need to do to improve on their previous best.

Our Latest Review 2024
We are delighted to announce that our Early Years has been accredited as an Area of Excellence!

The title of our accreditation is: Championing child development - Achieving EYFS success within a multicultural community.

This means we will be advertised for practitioners from other schools to come and visit to see what excellent Early Years practice looks like. 

Our recent Challenge Partners report 2024 says:

Provision in EYFS is a strength of the school and is recognised as an area of excellence. Children have opportunities to build their cultural capital through real-life experiences. They have helped to build a wildlife pond and love looking after their fish and snails. Staff in EYFS support children in developing independence rapidly so that they can focus on learning once routines are established. Children take off their own shoes and put on sandpit-crocs before using the sandpit, with no adult input, because they know it is expected.  

Oracy and talk are key to EYFS but leaders have ensured that they are important to all cohorts’ learning at William Byrd. Pupils are encouraged to communicate verbally to explain their thinking and to present learning to different audiences. Teachers teach how to ask and answer probing questions.

EYFS is led by colleagues with thorough and comprehensive understanding of childhood development. They recognise the need to ask questions, answer questions, tailor provision to children’s interests, have high expectations and cover all aspects of the curriculum frequently. 

Inspired by research, leaders have introduced the concept of ‘Planning in the Moment’ supported by language-rich learning opportunities and environment. Parents engage fully with children’s EYFS work, with 90% of parents visiting a Van Gogh inspired art exhibition produced by their children. Staff recognise the importance of parental support and engagement for children to reach their potential. External advice and networking opportunities have been exploited over the years so that leaders have refined their own rationale for success with evidence-based guidance. 

Leaders intend to continue to visit other early years settings through Challenge Partners’ connections and with schools that are equally strong in different ways. The intention is to foster a continual self-reflection process. 

The learning environment in EYFS is treated as ‘The Third Teacher’. Leaders have developed focused indoor and outdoor environments. Natural materials are used almost exclusively giving children ‘real’ materials to explore and reducing the cognitive overload that is often caused by too much colour. Leaders have already hosted many visitors from other settings seeking to learn more about the school’s approach to teaching early years as well as their effective resourcing strategies. This gives staff the opportunity and impetus to keep up to date with best practice. All practitioners in the early years are included in training opportunities. As a result, support staff feel fully involved in the young children's education. They work alongside the leaders to ensure all children benefit from varied and focused opportunities to explore and learn.

We're so pleased that our incredibly hard-working team has received this recognition!