At Whitchurch we aim to provide motivating first-hand experiences to enable children to learn more and remember more. We also encourage children to build resilience, ambition and a lifelong love of learning whilst also learning how to look after their own mental health and wellbeing. We aim to build on the wealth of knowledge children already have and are actively developing relationships with feeder settings through our Early Years Hub. We recognise that all children are unique, celebrating and welcoming differences within our school community. Therefore, our curriculum is developed and adapted each year to follow the interests and fascinations of the children in the current year group whilst also building specific knowledge, identified through the areas of learning. We recognise how learning builds sequentially – by building knowledge, skills and learning behaviours from what the children already know and can do towards identified end points or outcomes. Our curriculum design will ensure they are ready for the transition to Year 1. We embed a language of learning based on the characteristics of effective learning. Our whole school approach, enables children to understand and talk about their learning experiences.
We aim to:
• Provide a curriculum that offers children a wide range of opportunities ensuring that we do not expect children to aspire to things they have never encountered.
• We will work on broadening children’s experiences providing opportunities to try new things and encouraging them to relish a new challenge
• Provide high expectations encouraging them to develop perseverance and self-belief so that they can problem solve and achieve far more than they expected
• Provide a learning environment that helps children achieve their potential and support those who need additional help in order to maximise their chances of achieving the Early Learning Goals
• Provide children opportunities to develop their sense of wellbeing and ability to regulate their feelings so that they feel confident in our community and are equipped with all the tools they need to transition to Year 1 effectively
• Continue to develop the skills and expertise of staff working in EYFS through regular and comprehensive professional development either run by the EYFS Lead or attending courses run by other providers.
Our curriculum follows the Early Years Statutory Framework for the Early years Foundation Stage and uses the Development Matters 2022 documents as a basis. These documents specify the requirements for learning and development in the EYFS. We have used these to develop our curriculum offer to ensure that we deliver a carefully planned and progressive curriculum. Through our knowledge of each child and formative assessments the EYFS team plan exciting and engaging activities that will move the children’s learning forward and give them a context for their learning. This may involve following a class theme where we take advantage of cross curricular links and may also include following individual children’s interests at specific times during the daily offer. The curriculum is designed to include a blend of whole class, guided, adult directed play and child-initiated learning activities to ensure children are taught the knowledge they need for cumulative gains in learning in a progressive manner as well as following their own interests. We look forward at the start of a year to assessing what our children know and understand and ensure all children systematically develop knowledge in all seven areas of the curriculum. Children in EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active and thinking critically and creatively and this takes place both indoors and in our outdoor area. Our outdoor area is open all year round and in all but the most challenging weather conditions. Children make their own decisions about where they learn best to apply taught knowledge. The Early Years Curriculum is also carefully devised to ensure that the children are introduced to key concepts and bodies of knowledge that they will re visit in Key stage 1 and key stage 2.
The school follows the Lesley Clarke Synthetic Phonics DFE validated systematic, synthetic phonics scheme from their early days in school. Through this all children learn to read and write with accuracy, fluency and automaticity. The scheme provides support for parents. Staff are trained and monitored regularly to ensure a consistent and successful approach. Children read daily in class and the books are matched specifically to the phonic phase they are learning, ensuring they are able to read independently. We provide effective and focused intervention for those children who are finding learning challenging and are not on track to meet national expectations at the end of the year to enable them to catch up quickly with their peers. This is provided in an inclusive and flexible manner depending on the needs of the individual children. Support from parents is also enlisted at an early stage to ensure that the children have every chance to achieve the Early Learning Goals. A range of formative and summative assessments are used to identify what children know and understand and to precisely target their next steps in learning. The EYFS team collect evidence of children’s learning through shared dialogue meetings, photos and some physical evidence. It is through a consistent and valuable shared dialogue where we know the children completely. Learning is shared through class dojo so that parents can engage, enjoy and celebrate learning. Opportunities to support children’s learning is also shared on class dojo for parents. This means that parents can engage with children regularly about their learning and can contribute to the knowledge we have of the child in school. From January, a home learning book is sent home, with suggested activities for children to complete at home. This book is expected to come back to school at the end of term.
The judgements of our school are moderated with other schools and the EYFS Coordinator partakes in moderating sessions in local EYFS groups. This means judgements are secure and consistent with government guidelines. We love to provide children with contextual, first hand opportunities that lots of them have not experienced before or that enhance their learning in school. We go on visits to support this for example a trip to a Museum which is not local to them to handle live minibeasts and a virtual reality space visit. We ensure that all of our visits are learning related and will provide the spark for further immersion in a theme or project.
The teaching and pedagogy are reviewed and evaluated regularly through weekly team meetings n Year R. These have an agenda and actions which are then reviewed in the following meeting. We ensure that the areas we discuss and develop are reflected in changes and developments in our classroom practice. By the end of the year we provide opportunities for children to increase their ability to work independently on tasks ensuring they are well prepared for the move to Year 1. We also ensure that the curriculum and pedagogy in Year 1 continues to reflect the independent learning skills children have gained in Year R working together as teams to develop expertise and confidence in all teaching staff. We do this through key stage meetings where reflections on practice are made, evaluated and decisions about the best way to move forward to enhance children’s learning. The team in Year R work tirelessly to ensure that children are surrounded by a kind, caring and happy environment which helps them develop their own personalities in their journey through school. It is a positive place to be where resilience, perseverance and successes are celebrated and every child feels valued and respected.
The impact of the EYFS curriculum is reflected in having well rounded, happy and confident children. The children transition into Year 1 with key knowledge and overarching concepts to enable them to access the requirements of the National Curriculum. Our children are often amazing role models for others in school. Our children consistently meet the National and Local Authority data for children achieving a Good Level of Development within 3%. Our children reach our endpoints identified through our carefully planned curriculum offer for all seven areas of learning. The teaching and pedagogy are reviewed and evaluated regularly through weekly team meetings in Year R. These have an agenda and actions which are then reviewed in the following meeting. We ensure that the areas we discuss and develop are reflected in changes and developments in our classroom practice. The Early Years provision features in all areas of the School Development Plan and has a rigorous plan for development each year. This is monitored and evaluated by the EYFS Lead, the Head teacher and designated governor Helen Amour. This ensures that all staff understand the Early Years curriculum offer and how it provides the foundation for subsequent learning for all subjects of the National Curriculum