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"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood”. 

Fred Rodgers

Our EYFS Curriculum

We want to challenge stereotypical beliefs that some groups of children are ‘less able’ to learn and progress than others. We follow Julian Grenier’s Development Matters 2021 publication to support our teaching and learning. Communication and Language is at the heart of both our EYFS curriculum and the Development Matters 2021 publication. Julian Grenier states, the development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Planning to help every child to develop their language is vital. We strive to support all our pupils in becoming competent speakers and learners from the moment they walk through our doors. Our school is in the top 5% of the most deprived areas in Doncaster. Therefore, it is vital that we support children with their language development. Many families in disadvantaged circumstances do a great job supporting their children’s learning. However, Julian Grenier states that on average, by the time they are 5 years old, disadvantaged children are already behind in their development. This gap being particularly wide in language. At age 5, there is a seventeen-month gap between the vocabulary of the most and least disadvantaged children. If children are not confident whilst talking, this will affect their confidence and therefore their ability to develop and learn. This will cause all areas of learning to suffer, not just their communication. This research has supported our decision to bring communication and language development to the forefront of our curriculum. Alongside this document, our in-depth progression and skills maps have been developed to ensure we cover all aspects of the seven areas of learning at an appropriate rate. These documents ensure learning is sequential, builds on prior knowledge and provides children with the skills and knowledge needed to reach the seventeen Early Learning Goals (described in the Early Years Foundation Stage).

 

INTENT

At Mexborough St John the Baptist we value all of God’s children, creating an accessible and inclusive environment that helps all to flourish.  Our intent is for our children to be the best they can be. Our children are at the heart of everything we do, our curriculum reflects this. We believe by focusing on the interests of pupils, alongside carefully planned inquiry questions, we will ensure that our curriculum is ambitious, motivating, and stimulating. We ensure coverage of all 7 areas of the statutory framework and work towards achieving the three characteristics of effective teaching and learning.  We have a skilful team that have high standards of education and uphold a duty of care for all the children. At St John’s Primary School, we understand that we are legally required to comply with welfare requirements as stated in the Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage 2021. We follow the academy’s EYFS behaviour policy across our foundation stage. In the James Montgomery Academy Trust (JMAT) Early Years Foundation Stage, children are still learning about boundaries and what is acceptable in terms of behaviour. We teach tolerance and patience to help our pupils develop into kind and well-behaved members of society. The foundation stage provides children with their initial school experiences, we want these experiences to be memorable and pleasurable for all. We envision our curriculum to provide learning opportunities which meet the individual needs of all our children. Our EYFS curriculum will prepare our children for their journey through school. 

 

IMPLEMENTATION

Our curriculum is organised so a variety of high-quality learning experiences are provided. As mentioned above, we base our curriculum mostly on children’s interests. We believe this will lead to purposeful learning and high levels of engagement. Children are also provided with inquiry questions at the start of each half term, the children then explore what they already know and what they would like to find out. “Children don’t know what they don’t know”, In other words, we must still provide a certain amount of guided learning whilst considering interests. We believe that using the inquiry questions allows us to influence learning to an extent, whilst still providing flexibility to be interest led. 

Resources and provocations are planned for and provided the following week based around the inquiry questions and children’s interests. Inquiry questions are explored using a good quality storybook or age-appropriate non-fiction text. It is difficult to overstate the benefits of instilling a love of reading in a child. According to research by the OECD, reading for pleasure is more important than a family’s socio-economic status in determining a child’s success at school. Therefore, we value our daily story time sessions and the use of texts during direct teacher-led activities. 

Using books in this way allows children to see that books and reading are of high importance. The books we use then create our individual class book spines; these books are always accessible to our pupils. Wendy Bowkett states, “Stories have so much to offer: they develop listening and communication skills, improve concentration and memory, bring experiences alive, create a sense of wonder and help sequence events. They can also provide information, widen vocabulary and make important links between the spoken and written word, as well as stimulating an interest and enjoyment of books.” We thoroughly agree with this statement, which is why our Early Year’s curriculum places story time and reading for pleasure high up in our priorities. 

A range of teaching methods are used within our EYFS including child-initiated learning, whole class teaching and group teaching. As many activities as possible are play-based. Professor Iram Siraj argues, “Play is widely recognised as a leading context for the child’s acquisition of communication and collaboration skills”. Therefore, we ensure play is an essential part of our curriculum. That includes, play which is child – led, play which is sensitively supported and extended by adults; and play which is guided towards specific educational outcomes. Within our FS1 setting, we use an objective-led planning approach which allows practitioners to support all children primarily learning through play. However, there is also a need for direct teacher-led activities to ensure children gain essential knowledge and skills from their teacher. All activities are expertly modelled, and children are given sufficient time, support, and resources to repeat and practise them. 

Julian Grenier states, “the early years are the crucial time for developing children’s enjoyment of learning, their engagement and motivation. It is an important time for children to develop their ability to persist and show gritty determination” Our curriculum aims to allow each child to achieve this. Together we believe, together we succeed.

 

IMPACT

The impact of our curriculum will be seen not only in measurable attainment and progress, but that St John the Baptist Primary School creates polite, well-mannered caring members of our school community who understand and respect everybody’s differences and needs.

Documentation and assessment:

Planning is completed on a weekly basis within both of our foundation stage classes. Our progression maps are used to inform class teachers judgements about planning and next steps. As mentioned above, we ensure that we follow children’s interests where appropriate. However, our long-term plans and inquiry questions support the structure of our learning. 

Observations are used in the Foundation Stage as the basis for planning. Staff are skilled at observing children to identify their achievements, interests, and next steps for learning. These observations support the direction of the planning. Relevant and significant observations are recorded electronically in the children’s Learning Journeys on EvidenceMe. Some observations are not recorded but still inform planning and next steps.  

Assessment in the Foundation Stage takes the form of both formal and informal observations, photographic evidence and through planned activities. We make regular assessments of children’s learning, and we use this information to inform future planning. The EvidenceMe electronic system is then used to record and track the progress of each child’s level of development towards the Early Learning Goals throughout the year and reflect identified needs. 

Progress is shown in children’s learning and development, this can be seen in practice by them extending their ideas in the environment naturally. The staff team can discuss children’s progress as they know the children well. 

The Foundation Stage Profile is the nationally employed assessment tool that enables teachers to record their observations at the end of the Foundation Stage, and to summarise their pupils’ progress towards the Early Learning Goals. It covers each of the seven areas of learning contained in the curriculum guidance for the Foundation Stage. 

 

Monitoring and Review 

It is the responsibility of those working in Foundation Stage to follow the principles stated in this policy. The Headteacher, Deputy Head Teacher and the EYFS Leader will carry out monitoring on EYFS as part of the whole school monitoring schedule. The Governing Body will also be part of this process. This policy will be reviewed in September 2022 or as necessary.