Welcome to our curriculum webpage for Early Years
"The best thing about being in Reception is playing and learning with my friends and all the different responses we can use for creating and building things."
Henry T - Oak 2
"I like that we have a really big room to explore and going in all the different areas. such as drawing and writing. I also love the outdoor days."
Edith M - Oak 1
At Horsforth Newlaithes Primary School our Early Years curriculum focuses on high attainment in all seven areas of learning. The curriculum is designed to develop children’s quest for skills and knowledge and a belief in themselves as independent and collaborative learners. Right from the beginning we equip children with the skills necessary to be active learners. We want our children to be deep and reflective thinkers who question and search for answers. We want children to carry out their own lines of enquiry with determination and perseverance. There is a strong emphasis on the Characteristics of Effective Learning and the Prime Areas from day one, building on previous learning from other settings and at home. We work very closely with parents as the child’s first and most enduring educator and we see our job as educating parents as well as children. Our curriculum model is collaborative. Specific Areas of Learning are carefully structured throughout Early Years to reflect children’s growing skills, knowledge, maturity and readiness for Key Stage One.
Our curriculum values play and high quality interactions, most crucially between adults and children. The delicate balance of support and teaching with children’s natural desire to explore and experiment independently is managed through careful planning and a dedication to staff education. Reflective and skilful practitioners guide children’s learning with high expectations, challenge and a focus on oracy, including language structure development, social interaction support and ambitious vocabulary development. Our enabling environments promote thought, learning, language and interactions and also facilitate fascinations and interests. Using children’s self-guided research and enquiry ensures that each child sits at the centre of their learning thus engendering passionate and confident learners.
Our curriculum is dedicated to the development of our school drivers; diversity, community, democracy and environment. These drivers act as threads through all seven areas of learning. They support our curriculum focus on all children achieving their full potential. With a very bespoke curriculum we intend for all children to make strong progress.
As part of our ambitious curriculum offer at Newlaithes we have considered what we want our children to learn and experience in addition to statutory expectations. We have chosen four drivers to deepen and enrich our curriculum offer. The drivers at Newlaithes are:
Diversity – We want our children to be aware of the richness of life; the people, religions and cultures which surround them and also those which can be found further afield, across the planet. This driver will support our children in becoming global citizens who are tolerant, accepting, empathetic and forward thinking.
Community – We want our children to develop a sense of pride in themselves and respect for others. We want them to see how society functions and how people cooperate to solve problems, resolve conflict and develop spaces and places. We want out children to feel a sense of belonging and know what community’s do, feels like and can achieve.
Democracy - We want our children to understand about fairness, ethics and how these are supported when groups of people work together. Linking to community and belonging, we want the children to know about the structures and processes that exist to enable people to be treated with respect, fairness and ethically. We want them to develop their oracy skills to enable them to be self-confident articulators of thoughts and ideas and know how to argue a case and also see an opposing view and treat it with respect.
Environment – We want our children to see the place in which they live as special, valuable and worth caring for and nurturing. We want the children to see how they can have an impact on their environment and how small changes can have a big effect. We want them to see that the planet is worth caring for and how it can be improved for the future.
Each half term, EYFS staff introduce learning opportunities and provocations to provide inspiration for learning, whilst providing the flexibility for children to follow their own interests and fascinations. Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. They also learn through collaborative projects which involve adults and small groups of children working together for longer periods of time to develop specific learning needs. These projects can have a nurture focus or an interests and fascinations focus.
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 of these directed teaching sessions are followed by short focus activities and these increase as the year progresses. 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 self-directed and collaborative projects in provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas. Our forest is used regularly to inspire language and learning and to develop self-confidence and oracy.
Through parents’ meetings, parent forums and weekly newsletters we also educate our parents on our curriculum so that they are able to support their child’s development at home in a way which is conducive to rapid progress. We also provide teaching videos and audio files for parents on key areas of learning such as Phonic Pronunciation and usage of key pictorial representations in maths. All of this supports the best outcomes for children.
Reading and a passion for books and literature 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 reading spine which ensures that we have a core set of books each half term which support enjoyment, comprehension skills, vocabulary acquisition, learning across the seven areas and also our drivers. 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. Children also bring in their own favourite stories and these are shared with enthusiasm.
We use the DfES Letters and Sounds programme to support the sequence of our phonics teaching. We also use the Jolly Phonic songs for mnemonics. With both of these resources, we then plan phonics sessions to ensure that our approach is structured and systematic. In Reception, children are introduced to Phase 2 within the first 2 weeks of full time school which is followed by Phase 3 teaching. The children develop GPC and segmenting and blending skills to decode words. We also teach the Phase 2, 3 and 4 tricky words, starting in September, so that children can read and write these non-phonetically decodable words with ease. With this teaching children quickly start to read and write sentences. During the Summer term, children are introduced to Phase 4. We teach Phase 4 alongside Phase 3 as we have found children are very capable of learning them together. 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. Same day interventions ensure children keep up and support embedded learning.
In Reception we follow the Maths Mastery approach. We use this approach to ensure that all children develop firm mathematical foundations in a way that is engaging, and appropriate for their age. The maths learning in Reception encompasses six key areas; Cardinality and Counting, Comparison, Composition, Pattern, Shape and Space and finally Measures. The new EYFS framework (2021) does not include the last two areas however, we feel that these areas are crucial to a well-rounded early maths curriculum and so we include them to ensure our curriculum is ambitious and thorough.
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. Focus groups further embed children’s understanding and enable misconceptions to be identified and corrected. Same day interventions ensure children keep up and support embedded learning.
The Wider Curriculum - Understanding of the World and Expressive Arts and Design.
EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELGs feed into the National Curriculum through our robust planning and CPD opportunities. In reverse, colleagues throughout the school are also aware of the key ELGs that link to each foundation subject and the progression of the subject. Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. For example, regular visits to our vast grounds including our forest support children’s understanding of the developing natural world and seasons. Exploring these areas and finding a variety and plants and animals leads to quality discussions and further learning. Our link with a school in Melbourne, Australia provides opportunities to share our environment with others and also learn about contrasting environments around the world. 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 by supporting practitioners. To embed and make connections each of the seven areas of learning is carefully sequenced to allow for repetition and building on previous knowledge and this is the case with the wider curriculum. Finding out about who we are and our families in September becomes more sophisticated as the children move through the year and we look at world connections in our families and find out about how our families did things differently to us in the past. Using books to further our understanding and expand our boundaries is key to developing learning in the wider community and stories, rhymes and non-fiction texts provide a wealth of information to embed learning and spark new learning.
An Inclusive Curriculum
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. This includes, for example, sessions for developing speech and language, social skills, fine motor skills, phonics, and mathematics. 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 sustained shared thinking, oracy development, maths mastery and phonics. CPD supports practitioner’s confidence as well as their skills and knowledge thus enabling them to more quickly intervene, support or observe as needed in a meaningful way.
Independent Learning Time (ILT)
In Reception children carry out their own lines of enquiry and child-initiated projects, supported by adults through high quality interactions, during what we refer to as Independent Learning Time. Children plan with adults before starting ILT to enable them to understand what challenge is and how to challenge themselves. Staff use a learning line model to support this planning and also to encourage the children to reflect on their learning during and after ILT. Through carefully structured support and over time children gain independence in setting and working on challenges linked to their interests and fascinations. Characteristics of Effective Learning are developed in these sessions as well as many other aspects of the curriculum, particularly the prime areas. The learning line is made up of four colours which track the children’s progress; beginning black (this reflects a child’s current attainment and what they can do already), rough red (this is where a challenge has been found of the appropriate level – not too easy or too hard), growing green (this is the part of the line where children spend most of their time solving problems, persevering and being resilient) and brilliant blue (this is the part of the line where new learning has been acquired and the challenge has been successfully met). High expectations and supportive adults enable the children to move through these colours often. Children feel valued, involved, respected and invested in, developing self-esteem and a true sense that they are learners in their own right.
From the second half term in Reception children are selected to work with adults on projects over a prolonged time period (2-3 weeks). These projects take place during ILT. Initially children are selected based on their needs – in particular children with less well developed Characteristics of Effective Learning and/or children who are achieving below expected standards in the prime areas. These children work on nurture projects to develop their individual needs in a group context. Groups are of between 2 and 6 children. As the year progresses children are selected based on their similar interests and fascinations. These projects support children in their development of aspects of the whole curriculum including the Characteristics of Effective Learning. Individual needs are developed in a group context and groups are of between 2 and 6 children. All children take part in a longer, adult supported project in the year. Parents are informed and involved in the project and projects often culminate in a showcase which parents are invited to.
Prior to children starting school, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journey’s 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 each individual’s starting points in all areas so we can plan experiences to ensure progress. This information is tracked on Tapestry.
All ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. This formative assessment is very hands on and practitioners spend quality time with the children interacting and observing. Practitioners take part in sustained shared thinking to develop the children’s learning and reflections. Practitioners draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgements, through discussions with other practitioners, photographs and physical examples such as a child’s drawing / making. Observations from all staff are then collected on Tapestry and parents receive a summary report each half term. Summaries reflect on what the child can do and what their next steps are. This supports parents in knowing how to support their child ensuring maximum progress.
Characteristics of Effective Learning Assessment:
As we value the development of the Characteristics of Effective Learning so highly for lifelong learning, supporting a child to reach their full potential in all areas of the curriculum and readiness for the next stage in school we have devised, in conjunction with parents, an assessment of these skills. Children are identified at the end of each term as either:
- innocent (The child has not recognised the need for this requirement and/or there is no evidence of commitment towards achieving it.),
- beginning (The child recognises this requirement, and there is evidence of intent towards achieving it. Tends to be inconsistent, reactive and unpredictable.)
- developing (The child knows what to do and often tries to achieve this. However, this may be reactive or inconsistently applied.)
- secure (The child consistently achieves this requirement.)
Staff collaborate to come up with a judgement for each of the three key areas; Playing and Exploring, Active Learning and Creating and Thinking Critically. After a parent evening to explain the Characteristics of Effective Learning and the assessments we also ask parents to assess their children. These are discussed and differences between assessments in the setting and at home encourage meaningful conversations which result in targets, support ideas and sometimes projects which greatly improve development in a child’s attainment across the curriculum.
Phonic assessments are carried out every half term to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to keep up with the expectations we set out where possible. Children who are not on track receive timely interventions and parents are informed.
In Summer Term 2, the EYFSP is completed where teacher judge whether the child has met each of the 17 ELGs. They will be assessed as either emerging or expected. Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers, have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher.
Impact is evident through our successful transitions into Year 1. EYFS staff have a good understanding of how ELGs link to the National Curriculum, and through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects – both core and foundation - children leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey as scientists, historians, artists, designers and geographers.
More details about the intended impact of our whole curriculum can be found in the impact document on the main curriculum page.
This link is an explanation of the EYFS for parents.
Click on the link below to read an article Elizabeth has had published in Nursery World outlining the way we build our Early Years curriculum. It also talks about ILT and the principles behind it.