The EYFS Curriculum at Mexborough St Johns Primary School

 

Our vision

Our vision 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 aim to teach our children how to be effective learners and responsible citizens. We believe by focusing on the interests of pupils we will ensure that our curriculum is ambitious, motivating, and stimulating. 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

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).

Curriculum organisation

We organise pupils learning 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 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 children’s interests. Inquiry questions are also 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.

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