Early Years Curriculum Intent

At St Helena’s CofE Primary School, we are clear that research points to the Early Years being a crucial period, as it builds the foundation for children’s future educational attainment, health and well-being. Therefore, our curriculum is ambitious for all children and especially those who are disadvantaged. We strive to make every child’s very first experiences of school positive and meaningful, where they feel safe, valued, and motivated to learn and achieve their fullest potential. Our provision follows the principles and requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage, as well as drawing on the view of how children develop and learn presented in Development Matters. We have also based our curriculum decisions on recent research, in particular building strong foundational knowledge in communication and language; supporting children to build their spoken language in our vocabulary rich environment.

We have carefully considered our curriculum across the seven areas of learning, to sequence the foundational knowledge and understanding children will need to flourish in the early years and be ready for Key Stage 1 and the rest of their schooling. It is our intention that all children make good progress, and are supported to know more, remember more, and do more of what is planned in our curriculum.

We strive to ensure that our team of staff maintain high standards of education for the youngest children in our care. We are skilful at getting to know children and assessing what children know and can do, building on their strengths, closing gaps and meeting individual developmental needs through our interactions and activities. We routinely evaluate the quality of our early years provision and use this to inform our curriculum and improvement planning.

We have high expectations for behaviour and learning for all children, with all adults using consistent positive recognition strategies which help children to follow and understand our school values: Wisdom, Compassion, Endurance, Thankfulness, Hope, Respect and Community. We praise, recognise and reward not only the outcomes of children’s play and learning, but the effort they put in. Ensuring that children understand the importance of being resilient, tackling challenges and persevering.

  • To work in partnership with parents and carers to encourage independent, happy learners who thrive in school and reach their full potential from their various starting points.
  • To understand and follow children’s interests and provide opportunities throughout our EYFS curriculum to support learning, consolidate and deepen knowledge and ensure children meet their individual next steps.
  • To offer a wide range of rich, first-hand experiences to ensure learning is meaningful and memorable.
  • To create an exciting, engaging and well planned indoor and outdoor environment, which supports independent and collaborative learning.
  • To foster the development of each child’s character, their personal and spiritual development, health and wellbeing. As well as preparing them to make a valuable contribution to society.
  • To prepare children to reach the Early Learning goals at the end of the Foundation Stage and ensure every child makes at least good progress from their starting points.
  • To support a positive transition between Nursery and Reception and then into KS1.
Early Years Implementation

We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework. This framework specifies the requirement for learning and development and provides prime and specific areas of learning we must cover in our curriculum.

We achieve our intent by:

  • Quantity and quality of interactions children have with adults. We have chosen to embed the ‘ShREC’ approach into our teaching, to engage children in high quality interactions. The aim of the ShREC approach is to provide a simple and memorable set of specific evidence informed strategies for everyday practice – raising children outcomes in communication language.
  • Quantity and quality of book sharing, singing and rhymes that children are emersed in.
  • Following a curriculum that is child-centred and based around rich, high-quality texts, engaging topics and real-life experiences. With reading and communication and language at its heart.
  • Encouraging active learning to ensure that children are motivated and interested. Taking the time to get to know children’s interests to support learning.
  • Ensuring there is a broad, balanced, and progressive indoor and outdoor learning environment and curriculum in place to support the children to learn new skills, acquire new knowledge and demonstrate understanding through the seven areas of the EYFS curriculum. As well as celebrating every child’s learning through displays.
  • Promoting the characteristics of effective learning as an integral part of all areas of learning and reflecting these in our observations of children.
  • Having clear routines in place, alongside a well-planned and balanced timetable, so that children know what to expect and when and their role within their school day.
  • Allowing children ample time to use and develop taught skills on a daily basis within their own self-directed play, with the opportunity to work independently, collaboratively with friends or with members of staff. We do this because continuous provision supports children to develop key life skills such as independence, innovation, creativity, enquiry, analysis and problem solving.
  • Systematically checking for understanding, identifying and responding to misconceptions and providing real time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.
  • Following an interactive, well-structured, and pacey phonics program. With daily discreet lessons taught in Reception and pre-phonics skills carefully weaved through all learning in Nursery.
  • Providing the tools for parents to support reading and phonics at home. With children in Reception taking home fully decodable phonics books that are matched to their individual level. As well as all children in EY taking home a reading for pleasure books to inspire their love of books and stories.
  • Providing book ‘corners’ that include well known texts, unfamiliar texts and those changed regularly linked to our topic. Enjoying books throughout the day is encouraged and celebrated.
  • Following a mastery teaching scheme approach to maths in Reception, with a Nursery maths curriculum created to support progression into this scheme. Children learn to use concrete, pictorial and abstract methods to develop their deep understanding and mastery of numbers, calculations, shape, and space.
  • Having an inclusive approach which means that all children learn together. As well as providing additional interventions to support and scaffold children who may need support to make the progress, they are capable of. Some examples of this are: 1 to 1 intervention linked to Phonics and small groups focused on developing Maths and fine motor skills.
  • Being a forward-thinking team who are always discussing possible changes and enhancements to improve provision.
  • All adults working together to build up an assessment of each child’s current attainment and next steps. With ongoing assessments that take place formatively within every interaction that happens in the classrooms. Termly data captures and Pupil Progress meetings help to identify and provide support for those children not making the progress expected and identify any changes needed to the curriculum, teaching, and environment.
  • Keeping up to date with training related to the EYFS and being fully informed about and aware of important Government/Ofsted initiatives and focuses.
  • Networking with other schools to share good practice and support each other.
Early Years Impact

Children’s experiences overtime are consistently and coherently arranged, as they cumulatively build knowledge and skills. Children are deeply engaged in their work and play, sustaining high levels of concentration. Children are able to use new vocabulary and communicate effectively.

Knowing our individual children’s varied and diverse starting points, enables us to create effective next steps for all our children. The robust ongoing assessment, planning and implementation cycle ensures that all children make ‘good progress’ from their starting points across all of the areas of the EYFS curriculum. Progress is evident on displays, Seesaw, in books, on Phonics and Maths assessments and through attainment and progress data. We strive for children to reach the Early Learning Goals at the end of Reception and to be at least in line with National Expectations. The impact of our curriculum is measured by assessment procedures which allow us to measure outcomes against all schools nationally. The impact of our curriculum will also be measured by how effectively it helps our pupils develop into well rounded individuals who embody our school values and carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners and valuable future citizens. The impact is seen as our children are prepared and ready for Key Stage 1 and have our school values embedded by the time they leave Reception, preparing them for their future.