The Curriculum - Early Years

Our approach to teaching and learning in EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage)

We are keen to ensure that EYFS outcomes are useful to pupils in terms of basic skills development, particularly in the areas of behaviour, reading, writing and maths. On leaving Reception class it is important that pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their education in Year 1.

The whole of the EYFS curriculum is in place throughout Nursery and Reception and full use is made of national EYFS guidance.

We take as our starting point the following statement from the statutory framework for EYFS

‘Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated play. As children grow older it is expected that the balance will gradually shift towards more activities led by adults to help children prepare for the more formal learning of Year 1.’

Teachers regularly deploy three different styles of teaching in order to give pupils a varied menu of learning experiences, both teacher initiated and pupil initiated over the course of a week.

Teacher initiated learning

Small group reading, writing and maths- Pupils work in small groups to learn new skills in reading, writing and maths under the direct instruction of an adult.

The whole class also works together to learn new skills in phonics,understanding the world and R.E. Children then work in small groups to practise these skills under the direct instruction of an adult.

Mixture of teacher initiated and pupil initiated learning

Choosing activities- These are activities initiated by teachers but chosen and extended by pupils. Pupils can select from a variety of activities covering the majority of the curriculum. They select the activities they wish to take part in and the order in which they wish to complete them. There is often the opportunity to adjust the activity to follow pupils’ curiosity and imagination. Adults facilitate pupil learning in order to maximise on outcomes.

Pupil initiated learning

These activities start with a stimulus, often provided by the pupils themselves (see The Hub). Through discussion with a small group of pupils, an adult will help pupils to explore an area of interest to them and create an outcome of value, practicing many useful skills along the way.

E.g. Autumn leaves stimulus. The following outcomes were chosen by pupils themselves and not planned by adults...Outcome 1- The creation of a photographic record of an afternoon adventure in the park, annotated by pupils. Outcome 2 -The creation of a junk modelling giraffe eating green leaves from a spring time tree. Outcome 3- The creation of a suit of armour made from autumn leaves.

What does Ofsted say ? (Taken from 2016 Ofsted EYFS training document)

Teaching involves ‘interactions’ with children during adult planned and child initiated activities..

What should we see adults doing?

  • Communicating and modelling language
  • Providing a narrative for what the children are doing
  • Setting challenges
  • Exploring ideas
  • Demonstrating
  • Sharing
  • Explaining
  • Encouraging
  • Recalling
  • Facilitating
  • Questioning

When monitoring and evaluating provision inspectors should take account of..

  • The equipment adults provide
  • The physical environment provided by adults
  • The structure and routines of the day that establish expectations of the children

Integral to teaching is how staff..

  • Assess what the children know, understand and can do
  • Take account of their interests and dispositions to learn
  • Use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning
  • Monitor their progress

Characteristics of effective learning and teaching

In planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways children learn. These should be reflected in their practice. When evaluating the effectiveness of teaching and learning inspectors should be mindful of how well these characteristics are promoted.

  • Active learning- Not to be confused with being physically active. In effective active learning, children maintain their attention for a period of time and are not easily distracted because they are interested and fascinated by the activity.

Practitioners help children to enjoy their achievements, be satisfied when they meet their own goals, and do what they set out to do so they are content with their own success and not dependent on the success of others.

  • Playing and exploring-Practitioners

-encourage curiosity and independent exploration

-extend children’s learning

-develop children’s language

-feed in new vocabulary and challenge children’s thinking

Children are confident to try out new ideas and are not afraid to ‘have a go’

Practitioners should encourage a ‘can do’ attitude so children are willing to take a risk in new experiences.

  • Creating and thinking critically-Practitioners help children to develop so that they make connections in their learning, make predictions and are able to think things through.

Children learn to apply skills in different context and consider the best way of completing a task without waiting to be directed. Children are thinkers who make sense of their experiences. Using what they already know to learn new things, linking information as concepts are developed and linked together, finding meaning in sequence and cause and effect.

Children giving their own explanations about how they solve a problem learn more than when they receive positive feedback and/or explanation of their errors-this is why young children watching and learning from older children benefits both.

The EYFS curriculum

The EYFS curriculum is based on the national Statutory Framework for EYFS.

The curriculum is structured around…

Three prime areas of learning

  • Communication and language-Listening & attention, understanding, speaking
  • Physical development-Moving & handling, health and self-care
  • Personal, social and emotional development-Making relationships, self-confidence and self-awareness, Managing feelings and behaviour

Four specific areas of learning

  • Literacy-Reading, writing
  • Mathematics-Number, shape space and measure
  • Understanding the world-People and communities, the world, technology
  • Expressive arts and design-Exploring and using media and materials, being imaginative

Three characteristics of effective learning

  • Playing and exploring
  • Active learning
  • Creating and thinking critically

Assessment

The government does not yet prescribe how assessment on entry and on-going assessment should be undertaken in the EYFS.

We use the EExAT tracker as our school assessment tool for attainment on entry to EYFS and then for all assessment to the end of Reception.

Children’s attainment on entry is assessed over the first half of the Autumn term and reported to the HOS just before the October half term.

EYFS Profile statements summarise children’s attainment at the end of EYFS. It is based on on going observation and assessment in the three prime areas of learning, four specific areas of learning and the three characteristics of effective learning set out below.

Three prime areas of learning

•           Communication and language-Listening & attention, understanding, speaking

•           Physical development-Moving & handling, health and self-care

•           Personal, social and emotional development-Making relationships, Self confidence

           and self-awareness, Managing feelings and behaviour

Four specific areas of learning

•           Literacy-Reading, writing

•           Mathematics-Number, shape space and measure

•           Understanding the world-People and communities, the world, technology

•           Expressive arts and design-Exploring and using media and materials, being

           imaginative

Three characteristics of effective learning

•           Playing and exploring

•           Active learning

•           Creating and thinking critically

 

Phonics teaching and organisation

Discrete phonics lessons are taught 4 days per week in Reception. Children are taught in whole class sessions. Teaching assistants support children with additional needs during each session. Children are also taught to practise applying their phonics knowledge and skills daily, across the EYFS Curriculum.

The Letters and Sounds phonics scheme is used to deliver a progressive programme of word reading skills.

Autumn term

Reception children revisit Phase 1 and begin Phase 2. Children explore sounds and develop their listening skills. By the end of phase 2, many children should be able to read some VC and CVC words and to spell them. They start to learn to read and spell some high frequency ‘tricky’ words.

Spring term

Children begin phases 3 and 4. Children read and write one grapheme for each of the 44 phonemes. They blend and segment CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant), CCVC and CVCC words for reading and spelling and use their phonic knowledge when trying to read and write more complex words.

Summer Term

Children continue to consolidate and apply their knowledge in phase 4.

Children are assessed at the end of each ½ term and sessions are differentiated depending on each child’s ability.

Spelling

We expect Reception  children to begin to learn the 100 key words and common blends. These words are learnt in school and lists are also given to take home. Children are encouraged to practise independent spelling  in everyday emergent writing across the EYFS Curriculum. Children are taught to recognise spelling patterns, use phonics charts,  word mats and look for words around the room to support them.

Reading

Children are read to 3x per day in 1:1, small groups or during whole class sessions.

Children are encouraged to read daily. They have opportunities to chose books around their environment or  from the reading area to read independently or shared with another.

Supported Reading - From October Reception take part in Supported Reading  sessions daily. Children are taught to read during this systematic reading scheme in small groups of up to 6 children, supported by a trained adult. Books are graded with colour bands. Reception children are asked questions orally during and after texts are read as word recognition is still being developed.

In the  EYFS children are assessed against the CLL criteria through observation and assessment during  reading sessions. By the summer term the majority of  children will be assessed using the PM Benchmark toolkit

Speaking

High priority is based on children’s oracy skills on entry and throughout the EYFS.

During each literacy session children are discreetly taught vocabulary and given opportunities to consolidate new vocabulary.

EYFS Practitioners use a range of strategies such as  modelling accurate English and vocabulary and  recasting children’s speech, so that they make progress. Children  engage in a range of  speaking and listening activities throughout each day.  Children  are continually encouraged to use taught  strategies and participate in activities to ensure they speak in complete sentences and develop their grammar.

Interventions such as Talk Boost are delivered to support children with additional needs. Children with SEND  have 1:1 support form a Speech and Language Practitioner as set out in their Education Support Plan.