The Early Years Curriculum
The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum is made up of seven areas of learning; 3 prime areas and 4 specific.
The prime areas of learning are:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
The specific areas of learning are:
- Understanding of the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
Characteristics of effective learning (CoEL)
The focus of the CoEL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoEL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoEL to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.
Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning identified by the EYFS are:
Playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things and are willing to have a go.
Active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying when they encounter difficulties and enjoy their achievements.
Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, are able to make links between ideas and develop a range of strategies for doing things.
Early Years Foundation Stage at Colegrave Primary School
At Colegrave Primary School we believe in providing our children the best start in their first year at school. Our ambitious and inclusive curriculum educates all the children in knowledge, skills and understanding, to be effective, inquisitive, curious, independent learners and influence their wider thinking across all areas of the curriculum. Fundamental British Values are promoted and taught alongside the Early Years Foundation Curriculum and children’s development within these areas is key to promoting the values in the long term. We take pride in providing children the Cultural Capital they need for future success, giving each child the best start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their full potential and achieve future success.
Our children are at the centre of our setting. We offer a safe and caring environment in which your child will be supported in their desire to learn. We believe talk, exploration and first-hand experiences are paramount to young children’s learning. Our curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, both from previous settings and their experiences at home. We work in partnership with parents, carers and other settings to provide the best possible start at Colegrave Primary School, ensuring each individual reaches their full potential from their various starting points. Our curriculum has been designed to enable children to succeed through cooperative and collaborative learning principles. As such, there is a strong emphasis on the Prime Areas of learning; Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Communication and Language, including Oracy. At Colegrave Primary School, we recognise that oracy is a life skill that ensures success beyond school, in life and future employment. Oracy develops children’s thinking and understanding, which in turn promotes self-confidence, resilience and empathy which support the child’s well-being.
We are passionate about creating opportunities for children to communicate more easily through developing language and communication skills and specifically teaching vocabulary. We wish our children to believe in themselves and their abilities and capabilities, to belong to the school learning community and the wider community and to become successful in their academic career and beyond.
We have designed a rich and stimulating selection of topics and “core books” that encourage children to develop across all seven areas of learning. We plan according to our children’s needs and interests – taking into account their previous home and nursery experiences. We follow children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school. We also cater for different learning styles by offering a choice of inside and outside games and adult-led or independent play.
Our enabling environments and warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration right from the start. We believe that high level engagement ensures high level attainment. We therefore provide an engaging curriculum that maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking.
Our Reception classrooms have been designed and organised to promote positive, engaging environments for the children to learn in. All classes have designated areas of learning to support different areas of the EYFS curriculum. At Colegrave Primary school, we believe in the importance of outdoor learning and use our lovely outdoor area regularly every day for our continuous provision and for adult directed activities.
By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their starting points are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1.
At Colegrave School we encourage children to demonstrate their attitudes and behaviours to learning through the Characteristics of Effective Learning.
Our children are the heart and centre of our curriculum and promotes learning through a play based environment. We recognise their prior learning by providing first-hand learning experiences and allowing the children to develop interpersonal skills, build resilience and become creative, critical thinkers to enable them to challenge themselves.
We ensure the content of the curriculum is differentiated to meet the needs of all learners and is taught in a logical progression so that children build on prior learning. We plan through a topic-based approach on an annual basis, but these plans are adapted and amended to address the ever growing and changing needs and interests of all our children.
We understand to maintain high standards of quality first teaching we have to invest in our staff by providing high quality Continued Professional Development (CPD) to match the current needs of the staff and also to match the needs of our children. Teachers and Teaching Assistants at Colegrave Primary School take pride in creating a fun and loving leaning environment which celebrates all learners as well as meeting the needs and skill levels of our children. Our Early Years practitioners are always reflective and use teacher assessments and gap analysis to inform their planning to ensure quality provision.
We recognise that language and communication are vital in all areas of a child’s development. We welcome children from culturally diverse backgrounds and many of our children are at an early stage of learning English as an additional language (EAL). Communication and language development are therefore a consistent focus. We support children’s development by providing a rich language environment, where conversations, singing and sharing stories become a regular part of the children’s day.
At Colegrave Primary School, in the Reception we believe in providing children the best possible start in their early reading. The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout Foundation Stage. We take priority in teaching sounds in the early year’s foundation stage using the RWI programme, and acknowledge that children need to be taught the key skills in segmenting and blending. We also value and encourage the pupils to read for enjoyment and reading a range of books and text both at home and in school.
At Colegrave Primary School, in Reception we see teaching for mastery in maths as allowing the pupils to gain a deep understanding of maths, allowing them to acquire a secure and long-term understanding of maths that allows them to make continual progress to move onto more complex topics. In Reception, we aim to teach so that children have a deep understanding of number. We want to develop children’s number sense so that they understand the number rather than just recognising the numeral. Children need to understand that numbers can be represented in many ways, not just as a written numeral. We use many different objects and pictures to show that numbers can be represented in lots of ways.
Children sometimes need lots of practise to recognise numbers in different forms. We play matching games and encourage children to recognise and make different amounts in our indoor and outdoor areas.
Each half term, EYFS staff introduce a new theme to provide inspiration for learning, whilst providing the flexibility for children to follow their own interests and ideas. Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching during the day. The timetable changes throughout the year to take into consideration the changing needs of the children. These sessions are followed by small focused group work. This means the teacher can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning. Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas.
We have topics every half-term:
- Traditional Stories
- People who help us
- Space and beyond
- The seaside
- Moving up
All topics focus on all areas of learning with a huge focus on developing language and communication skills and the love for reading.
Prior to children starting, our EYFS team staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journey’s to gain an understanding of the whole child and where they are at. During the first half term in Reception, all staff use ongoing assessments, observations and conversations with the child to develop a baseline assessment. This identifies each individual’s starting points in all areas so we can plan experiences to ensure progress. The following baseline assessments are also carried out.
All ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment does not involve prolonged periods of time away from the children and excessive paper work. Practitioners draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements through discussions with other practitioners, photographs and physical examples such as a child’s drawing / making. Some observations are uploaded using Evidence me and these are shared in children’s learning joinery books where parents can view them.
Phonic assessments are carried out every half term to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ where possible. Assessments are completed three times per year and shared with parents, whereby the Class Teacher updates the progress children have made.
In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where teacher judge whether the child has met each of the 17 ELG’s. They will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected.’ Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers, have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher.
Impact is also evident through our successful transitions into Year 1. EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELG’s link to the National Curriculum, and through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects, both core and foundation, children leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey as well as building on their long term memory.
Our broad and balanced curriculum design ensures that the needs of individual children including EAL, SEND and disadvantaged, and small groups of children can be met within the environment of high quality first teaching supported by targeted interventions where appropriate. In this way it can be seen to be impacting in a very positive way on pupil outcomes. We endeavour for pupils to be Reception ready and prepared for the next phase at primary school.
The impact of our curriculum will also be measured by how effectively it helps our pupils develop into well rounded individuals who embody our values and carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners and valuable future citizens.
Our daily timetable
9.10 RWI (phonics programme)
10.20 Maths then free low
12.30 Topic (focus on one of the seven areas) then free flow
12:45 Adult focus
2.15 Keyworker time
2.30 Story time
3.00 Home time
We had our last Ofsted inspection in June 2017 and we are proud to announce that we are an ‘Outstanding’ early year’s provision.
Here is what Ofsted saw:
Children get off to an excellent start in the early years. The learning environment is extremely well planned and teaching is outstanding. Children make excellent progress in all areas of learning.
The curriculum is stimulating and children are constantly busy. The outdoor area is highly resourced and adults consistently model good language development.
Activities to do at home to support your child’s learning
Your child will be sent home with a reading book. We ask that you read with your child everyday as this helps with their concentration and letter & sound recognition.
Homework will be sent out every Friday, these will focus on what your child has been learning on school that week. We encourage that children work with their parents to complete it and that it becomes an enjoyable extension of their learning that they have worked on in class.