The Intent of our Early Years Curriculum
At The Willows Catholic Primary School, the EYFS curriculum is designed to encourage independent, inquisitive and happy learners. We recognise children’s prior learning and various starting points, and create a holistic curriculum that maximises cross-curricular links and builds strong foundations for their future.
Every child is recognised as a unique individual, and we acknowledge and promote children’s interests to provide them with the opportunities to follow their imagination and creativity. All topics come directly from the children and use all areas of the classroom and provision. This is enhanced further by providing opportunities for school trips, visitors coming in to school and whole school theme weeks ensuring the children always get the best possible experiences. The children’s interests are always at the forefront of our curriculum.
In Reception, we invest time into helping children to recognise their personal goals, which allow them to reflect and aim high. We celebrate the differences in our school community, and always strive to promote a love for learning. The children want to achieve their very best and always aim for the weekly Star Award.
We recognise that children have a thirst for new experiences and knowledge, and should be provided with opportunities to engage their inquisitive minds. Therefore, we provide vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision, that follow children’s interests, to support learners in investigating and developing their skills. We regularly use our Forest School Area to enhance these skills further where the children will enjoy making campfire toast, resting in the hammocks and den building.
We work in close partnership with our families throughout the year to support the children’s learning. Through Family Fun Sessions, the use of our Seesaw learning journal and inviting families in to share our prayer and liturgies we strengthen these relationships.
The Implementation of our Early Years Curriculum
Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities and challenges.
The weekly timetable is carefully structured so that children have rigorous directed teaching in English, Mathematics and Phonics every day. Our Phonic sessions are taught in small groups enabling children to learn in the style that meets their needs .We also ensure regular Circle Time Key Worker sessions to focus on Communication and Language and Personal, Social, Emotional Development. These sessions encourage children to listen carefully, respects other children’s opinions and also build their confidence to speak in a small group.
Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences, which is carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development including Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design as well as to promote sustained thinking and active learning. Great emphasis is also made to the use of Forest School learning which is taught on a weekly basis..
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Children follow the highly successful Letters and Sounds program faithfully so that they meet good outcomes for reading with almost all children passing the Year One phonics screening check. Mrs Barnett (The Headteacher) promotes her love of reading to the children by regularly reading them her favourite books. Children also enjoy reading a variety of books inside and outside of school through quality guided reading sessions and whole class reading led by adults. Our book corner reflects the books read in class and children enjoy looking at these books in their provision. Every term we focus on an author, reading books and taking part in activities. We also celebrate World Book Day as a school. All children are expected to share their reading book at home with an adult and are regularly listened to read in school.
We follow the Maths Mastery approach in Reception with an emphasis on studying key skills of number, calculation and shape so that pupils develop deep understanding and the acquisition of Mathematical language. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives which are then rehearsed and applied to their own learning during exploration and in adult lead activities. These collaborative and practical mathematical experiences are carefully designed to help pupils remember the content they have been taught and to support them with integrating their new knowledge across the breadth of their experiences and into larger concepts. Teaching Mathematics in such a kinaesthetic and practical way, supports our children to become logical problem solvers that can demonstrate resilience and justification when learning.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be reaching their potential or moving on children who are doing very well. This includes, for example, ‘1-1 intervention’ provision in Maths, Phonics and Physical Development to promote fine motor skills. The characteristics of effective learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations and assessments of children.
Our regular monitoring of teaching and learning includes: coaching and feedback from the phase leader, Mrs Aris, relevant training and professional development so that all staff develop a good subject knowledge and are effectively supported. Our Phase Leader, Mrs Aris attends the Early Years Cluster Meetings to share and strengthen new ideas and updates. We are also highly focused on frequently moderating outcomes across the year group so that every member of our team feels confident in making accurate judgements about where individual pupils are and their next steps for learning. This is also supported by external, small group moderations with other Early Years teachers. In addition to this, our staff have regular contact and support with our Speech and Language therapist who helps to build subject knowledge of working with children who have communication and language difficulties.
The Impact of our Early Years Curriculum
We aim to ensure all children progress through a balanced and creative EYFS curriculum. We strive to ensure each child makes a very good level of progress through the Early Learning Goals, from their individual starting points. All children get the best possible start to their school life and develop the knowledge and skills to reach and exceed their potential in KS1. To check that we are achieving this we take the following measures;
- Class teachers record observations and photographs of each child’s whilst learning and playing. This is recorded using our Seesaw journal software and linked to the areas of learning with any statements that are met. These observations are used to help teachers make formative assessments and inform potential next steps for each child, this includes careful consideration of children with SEND or are who are disadvantaged.
- Summative assessments are completed half termly to judge each child’s progress in the 7 areas of learning. Their progress against the Development Matters age related expectations is tracked. This allows us to assess the impact of our teaching and decide if sufficient measures are undertaken to help specific children. This is reported to members of the SLT during pupil progress meetings.
- Evidence of activities are completed are stored in individual online learning journals.
- The assessment judgements are moderated by the Early Years team internally and externally by other schools.
- Parents are invited to provide evidence of their child’s progress of learning at home through uploading photographs and videos to the child’s online Seesaw journal.
We strive to achieve a high standards of enriched play-based exploration alongside excellent teaching and assessment, as our children move through the year. Our creative and balanced provision of learning experiences enables our children to develop as happy, motivated, and independent learners. Parents and Carers are always informed of their child’s progress, we also have termly parents evenings alongside termly reports.
Take a look at the Gallery below to see what our children have been getting up to…
EYFS Curriculum Areas
The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum is split in a number of different areas. Use the tabs below to find out more…
Communication and Language (C&L)
Communication, Language and Understanding | Speaking
The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children’s language effectively.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
Self Regulation | Managing Self | Building Relationships
Children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Underpinning their personal development are the important attachments that shape their social world. Strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults enable children to learn how to understand their own feelings and those of others.
Physical Development (PD)
Gross Motor Skills | Fine Motor Skills
Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, co-ordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both objects and adults.
Comprehension | Word Reading | Writing
It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
Number | Numerical Patterns
Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers.
Understanding the World
Past and Present | People, Cultures and Communities | The Natural World
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.
Expressive Arts and Design
Creating | Being Imaginative
The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.