Early Years Curriculum
Early Years Foundation Stage - Nursery and Reception.
At Compass Point Primary School we celebrate the development of children as individuals, understanding that they all have different needs, experiences, interests and learning styles. We strive to provide them with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to enable them to gain valuable life skills, foster a love of lifelong learning and prepare them for transition to Key Stage One and beyond. Our aim in the Early Years Foundation Stage is to build strong foundations which enable children to grow and develop, where we celebrate the achievement of personal goals, academic successes, as well as moral and spiritual development. That our pupils can be successful and go on to be active members of society and become happy, curious life-long learners.
Our curriculum is based on our knowledge of our children, families and local communities. It looks closely at the cultural capital we know our pupils need so that they can gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. We use the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning – Play and Exploration, Active Learning and Creative and Critical Thinking, to embed lifelong learning habits. We use a mastery approach which enables our children to develop depth of learning and encourage them to sustain their own interests, projects and play based on their child’s voice and interests, as well as building on previous experiences and learning.
Our school is a diverse, community based setting and we work hard to reflect this in our curriculum. We have high expectations of all pupils, and work hard to build good relationships with them and their families. We engage them in learning by following their interests, valuing each child and their contributions to create a skills led curriculum. To enable our children to make good progress we prioritise the prime areas of learning, personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language in our Early Years curriculum.
Our enabling environments and skilful adult-child interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration. We invest time in helping pupils to challenge themselves by creating and reflecting on their own goals, encouraging them to aim high, and to develop a love of reading, writing and number. This is delivered through a holistic curriculum which 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 following children’s interests and ideas. We value imagination and creativity and seek to create a sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning through, exciting and challenging, indoor and outdoor continuous provision, alongside trips, visits and regular forest school and outdoor learning sessions.
We believe that building positive, trusting relationships with families and children is key to their emotional, physical and cognitive development. Our Early Years provides a safe and stimulating environment for children to thrive. At Compass Point Primary, we want our children to be excited, engaged and confident in their learning. We enable our children to set their own challenges, take risks, review their own approach to learning and make links to previous experiences.
Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities, alongside highly trained practitioners. Our timetable is carefully structured so that children have long periods of uninterrupted time for child initiated play and exploration. In addition they have daily small group teaching in Nursery which focuses on developing the prime areas of learning. In Reception Class children have short daily, discrete teaching sessions of phonics and reading, using the Unlocking Letters and Sounds programme, as well as English and maths. In addition to this regular circle time sessions which focus on Personal, Social and Emotional Development throughout the week, with an emphasis on emotional literacy, management of self, self-regulation. We use ‘The Zones of Regulation’ to help our children identify, talk about and manage their emotions.
Adult directed sessions are followed by small group work where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets. This focused group time 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. We use the quality first teaching approach, where teachers and practitioners deliver differentiated and scaffolded learning and all children learn together in an inclusive environment.
Child-led experiences, following interests and schemas, are observed and extended using ‘Possible Lines of Direction’ to enhance continuous provision with interesting resources and tools to develop skills. Our physical environment promotes the development of children’s gross and fine motor skills; we provide tools, physical literacy activities and challenging physical experiences to enhance their chosen activities. In addition we have regular Forest School sessions, on and off site, with a specialist Forest School leader.
We take pride in celebrating and reflecting the cultural diversity of our school, community and locality. We do this by using nursery rhymes and traditional stories from around the world, taking part in family and community celebrations and inviting families in to share important festivals, stories and celebrations with us. Members of our local community volunteer in school and support reading and Forest School. We regularly explore our local environment, both within the school buildings and grounds and also by going into our local area and visiting places of interest such as the library, parkland and local shops, enabling children to see themselves as a part of the larger community.
Children at Compass Point speak a wide range of languages, in addition to English, which we celebrate regularly. To enable our children to make good progress in speaking, understanding and using English we ensure that our curriculum is language rich. We develop and extend vocabulary by using storytelling, role play, creating exciting experiences, and by ensuring that adults model and scaffold good quality language.
We promote physical independence in all that children do, especially self-care such as toileting and making healthy eating choices. We encourage children to adopt a ‘have a go’ attitude, take risks and assess their activities and learning so that they can see how they can adapt, or do things differently.
Learning through play is an important part of our Early Years provision. We believe children learn best from activities and experiences which interest and inspire them. Using children’s interests as a starting point, we provide children with stimulating, active play experiences in which they can explore and develop their learning to help them make sense of the world. They have opportunities through their play to think creatively and critically alongside other children as well as on their own.
The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum is available to view here.
Our curriculum must meet the needs of our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND. We spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning, using Development Matters non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage as a guide.
Our evaluation and assessment process is ongoing and we do this by talking to children and their families, observing their learning experiences, looking at their work, and analysing data and progress in a variety of ways. Every member of staff uses ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress. This information is tracked on Insight (our data tracker) which enables us to measure our starting points against a national data set. We use this information on a weekly basis to plan learning experiences and next steps so that knowledge and skills are built cumulatively. During each assessment window, three times a year, teachers update the progress children have made onto Insight which allows us to assess the impact of teaching and evaluate whether it has been enough. Evidence of children’s learning including observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents are kept in their online ‘Class Dojo’ profiles, which children use to reflect on their progress through pupil voice.
Our curriculum and its delivery ensure that children make good progress. Children in our early years, on average, arrive with much lower starting points than the national average. During their time in our EYFS, children make rapid progress so that more children meet the national expectation for GLD at the end of the year. Pupils also make good progress toward their age-related expectations before transitioning into Year One. We believe our high standards are due to the enriched play-based exploration alongside the quality first teaching the children have as they move through the early years – a balance of learning experiences to develop happy, curious children, who are developing a love of lifelong learning.
They are able to practise skills, build upon and revisit prior learning and experience at their own level and pace. Play gives our children the opportunity to pursue their own interests and inspire those around them. The children learn to adapt, negotiate, communicate, discuss, investigate and ask questions. We believe it is important that adults take an active role in child initiated play through observing, modelling, facilitating and extending their play. Getting the balance right between child initiated play and adult led activities is very important to us.
We use the statutory framework for EYFS and the four guiding principles that shape practice within Early Years settings.
- Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
- Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
- Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers
- Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates