The Intent, Implementation and Impact of Our Early Years Curriculum should be looked at alongside our Foundation Stage Policy.
At St. Mary’s we shape our curriculum to ensure it is fully inclusive of every child and that it addresses each aspect of how a child develops, progresses and grows academically, emotionally and within their faith. Our Early Years Curriculum aims to lay a secure foundation for future learning and to nurture a love of learning. We engage children in learning from the very start and expect our children to leave us as happy, confident and skilful communicators who are curious about the world around them.
All staff work together as a team to create a positive, caring and welcoming atmosphere where the children feel secure yet are challenged to achieve their best. The emphasis is very much on helping individual children to achieve their full potential. We are fully inclusive, and all children are expected to think about the needs of others. We respect all families and aim to develop a positive two-way relationship with each one.
We provide for and support every child. We know that children do their best when all their physical and emotional needs are being met. We embrace the individual and all staff understand that each child is different, and their learning requirements and styles are unique too. By providing a high level of wellbeing this in turn leads to high levels of child development and the ability to create and think critically.
We aim to provide our children with knowledge, skills and experiences in a hands on, holistic way so that all learning is embedded in a meaningful context. We do this through a flexible curriculum which is both topic and child interest led that engages and motivates our children. It covers all the 7 areas of learning, RE and supports the children’s learning characteristics.
In order to enhance children’s cultural capital we intend to provide a wealth of trips and visits to improve learning outside the classroom and to create links between learning and fun for our children. ‘100 thing to do at St. Mary’s’ and ‘100 things to do before you are six’ provides a framework of experiences and opportunities for our children to encounter - such as restaurant and theatre experiences, growing caterpillars to butterflies, a book author visit, trips to the farm, museum, zoo or seaside. We want the learning gained from these trips to be invaluable as to how our children develop understanding about the world in which we live and how it can help learning inside the classroom become more tangible. We want to prepare all our children for the next stages in their educational careers as well as allow them to develop their aspirations for adult life.
Our curriculum is a carefully planned learning experience. Throughout the nursery and reception year our children follow the Early Years Foundation Stage. Many of our children will have already begun their journey through the foundation stage. During our induction period, we find out about and recognise their previous learning and the experiences they’ve had at home and nursery/preschool settings. Information is shared to ensure that new learning builds upon and strengthens their previous understanding.
Our topic based curriculum, alongside the planning and implementation of children’s interests, offers a flexible approach, provides additional challenges and creates relevant teaching opportunities that deepens learning and understanding.
Our daily routines support children to settle in. Our ongoing assessment allows us to respond quickly to the children’s learning by enhancing ideas and modelling vocabulary that is relevant to the children. Our environment is set up to develop appropriate skills. Our resources are considered carefully and are used to provide challenge, curiosity and to match the children’s interests.
We provide a learning environment based on the individual children’s needs and interests and it builds on previous skills and knowledge. It starts with the children and their own locality and stretches out to explore being a good citizen and develop their awareness of the wider world.
Staff observe, listen to and work with children to facilitate learning. Positive relationships and good communication play a vital part when planning for individual needs. Every child has the support they need to flourish.
All children access a broad, balanced, well-resourced curriculum, which offers opportunities for enjoyment and success through active learning. Planned activities aim to foster good social relationships, promote equal opportunities and support special educational needs. Children learn to co-operate and listen to others. They do this in pairs, small groups and whole class groups. We use short teacher inputs and access to a cross curricular indoor/outdoor provision. Staff plan for and ensure that both the inside and outside spaces are fun, safe, engaging and offer challenge.
Staff understand that the prime areas of learning begin to develop quickly in response to relationships and experiences and run through and support learning in all other areas. Furthermore, these prime areas continue to be essential throughout the whole of the EYFS. All 7 areas of learning (see below) are used to plan children’s learning and activities. Staff use first hand experiences, visitors and visits to enhance children’s experiences and to bring their learning alive.
- Personal and Social Development (PSD)
- Communication and Language (CL)
- Physical Development (PD)
- Literacy (L)
- Mathematics (M)
- Understanding the World (UW)
- Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)
In addition to the 7 areas of learning we develop children’s faith and spiritual understanding through the use of ‘Living and Growing as the People of God’. We encourage children to be actively engaged in their faith and all children take part in collective worship in assemblies, masses and liturgies both at school and in church. In addition to this children we encourage the children to be actively curious about their faith through role play and discussion.
At St Mary’s and Our Lady of Grace we encourage children to develop their language, imaginations, to get actively involved in learning and to make decisions. Through their play our children will:
- Explore, develop and represent learning experiences that help them to make sense of the world.
- Practise and build up ideas, concepts and skills
- Learn how to understand the need for rules
- Take risks and make mistakes
- Think creatively and imaginatively
- Communicate with others as they investigate and solve problems
Ongoing and accurate assessments ensure staff plan appropriate activities. Our assessments start with careful observation. These observations inform planning and in turn are used to support the children’s wellbeing, development and learning.
We record observations in a secure online journal called ‘Evidence me’. This is shared with parents and family members can add their own observations too. This document is used to support statutory assessment judgements at the end of the Foundation Stage.
Children’s progress is monitored closely from the moment they start, and their journey is tracked throughout nursery and reception allowing appropriate support and challenge to be put in place. Due to this children make good progress from their starting points and our GLD continues to be above National. In individual cases where children do not reach the required standard their transition into Year 1 is monitored closely to ensure they receive the support to help them progress.
Our assessments are integral to effective learning and teaching. The results of this are children who have a sense of belonging, have a positive disposition to learning and are ready to move through the school. They transition into Key Stage One with confidence and a strong character to meet the challenges of an ever changing world.
Children develop crucial social skills and communication skills as they support each other in their learning journey. Our children talk confidently about their learning and faith and can confidently share their experiences in assemblies and discussion.