Our early years setting follows the curriculum as outlined in the latest version of the EYFS statutory framework that applies from September 2021.
The EYFS framework includes 7 areas of learning and development that are equally important and inter-connected. However, 3 areas known as the prime areas are seen as particularly important for igniting curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building children’s capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.
The prime areas are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
The prime areas are strengthened and applied through 4 specific areas:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
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, ensuring everyone reaches their full potential from their various starting points. In line with our whole-school vision, pupils will learn to be part of a family, considering others and showing empathy.
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 Abbey, we recognise that oracy not only improves academic outcomes, but is a life skill to ensure success beyond school, in life and future employment and as such it is a stand within our whole school aims and vision. Oracy develops children’s thinking and understanding, which in turn promotes self-confidence, resilience and empathy which support the child’s well-being. 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. We follow children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school.
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.
We see reading and the love of books to be a key focus for our pupils in Early Years as this will give them the best possible start.
Our Key Curriculum Ambitions
When we consider each unique child, we can identify key areas of learning that we would like to foster, based on our school vision and knowledge of the most common learning needs of pupils as they enter our school. This helps us to form the key ambitions for our pupils as they move through the EYFS. These are:
- For all children to be able to play together, sharing with their peers and finding ways to disagree well.
- For all children to be able to develop a sense of spirituality, having a relationship with the natural world and knowing how things develop and grow around them.
- For all children to know how they can grow to be safe and healthy.
- For all children to be able to use good listening with their peers and adults.
- For all children to have good fine motor control and be able to recognise and write their name.
The curriculum is organised into seven areas of learning. These seven areas are then divided into ‘prime areas’ – Personal and Social Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development and ‘specific areas’ – Reading and Writing, Mathematics, Understanding of the World and Expressive Arts and Design. Each one has objectives which establish expectations for most children to reach by the end of the Foundation Stage in line with the expectations shared in Development Matters (2021).
Some areas of the curriculum will be delivered through adult-planned and delivered sequences of learning based on the adoption of recognised schemes. These are:
Phonics- Essential Letters and Sounds
Maths – Herts Essentials Planning
English and Guided Reading – Herts Essentials Planning
PSHE- Jigsaw Scheme (Agreed units)
RE- Identities, meanings, values-The RE Agreed Syllabus, 2018–2023 Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton
PE – Non-Stop Action
Music- External Provider
The remaining curriculum is planned through a series of themes and topics, each of which offer experiences in all areas of learning through Child-initiated learning supported by adult interaction and enabling environments. We have an annual plan. All of these topics are planned to be broad, allowing for different directions to be planned and taken during teaching to meet the needs and interests of pupils. These themes are below.
|This is Me||Once upon a Time||Underground/Overground|
Each 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. Some 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. During these times, staff will be promoting the development of specific skills and ensuring high level interactions between children to help develop spoken vocabulary and core skills.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and our aim is to encourage a love of reading right from the start. In EYFS we have a core set of class books each half term. The aim is to expose children to a range of books that not only develop a love of reading, but have been chosen specifically to develop their oracy, vocabulary and comprehension. These books will be embedded in our provision through activities, story sessions and on display for children to access independently.
Through this, children begin to internalise new vocabulary, language patterns and begin to retell stories.
There is cohesion and consistency with our approach to align with the whole school approach to reading.
We follow the Essential Letters and Sounds programme.
All children will start on Lilac Level.
Children are encouraged to read at home and are listened to regularly in school. They are given books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers. They are also given sharing books which enables them to read with an adult at home and develop comprehension skills and exposes them to a range of trickier vocabulary.
We follow the Herts Essentials maths scheme in EYFS, which is different from the rest of the school. However, justified by the fact that Herts Essentials is more accessible for our children at Abbey School. High quality learning environments and meaningful interactions with adults, support children in developing mathematical thinking and discussion. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives and pictorial structures and representations which are then rehearsed applied and recorded within their own child-led exploration. Children have a daily input to develop fluency, revisit key concepts and address misconceptions.
Our wider curriculum is taught through the remaining learning areas. EYFS staff have a good understanding of the outcomes for this and how ELG’s feed into the National Curriculum. In reverse, colleagues throughout the school are also aware of key aims from Development Matters that link to each foundation subject and the progression of the subject.
Building further on our oracy focus, children will be encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology in foundation subjects, and such vocabulary will be modelled, both verbally and orally, by supporting practitioners.
Specific Support and SEND
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we have a range of additional intervention and support for children who may not be reaching their potential or are showing a greater depth of understanding and need further challenge.
Regular monitoring of teaching and learning by SLT and the EYFS leader ensure staff develop good subject knowledge. The EYFS leader ensures staff receive CPD specific to Early Years to develop their practice. For example, we offer CPD on effective observations, to understand where pupils are, and their ‘next steps,’ for learning.
Prior to children starting, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journeys 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 everyone’s starting points in all areas so we can plan experiences to ensure progress. The following baseline assessments are also carried out.