‘When we give every child the best start in their early years, we give them what they need today. We also set them up with every chance of success tomorrow.’ Development Matters 2021
At St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, the curriculum is designed to build strong foundations for every child’s future and set them up with every chance of success. In the EYFS, we recognise children’s prior learning and various starting points, and have created a holistic, developmentally-appropriate and play-based curriculum that maximises cross-curricular links and builds life-long, transferrable skills.
After careful consideration of the context of our setting, we have built our own curriculum to suit the specific needs of our children, whilst at the same time meeting the requirements outlined in the Statutory Framework of the Early Years Foundation Stage (September 2021). We use the Development Matters Guidance as a planning tool, which supports our practitioners in their statutory responsibilities within the EYFS areas of learning and development, and details the statutory educational programmes that help children make progress towards the Early Learning Goals (ELG’s).
The Characteristics of Effective Learning and the Prime and Specific Areas of Learning are all interconnected. The Characteristics of Effective Learning describe the behaviours children use in order for them to learn. The Prime Areas of Learning lay the vital foundations in the early years. The Specific Areas of Learning provide the children with specific knowledge and skills needed to flourish in society.
We recognise that children have a thirst for new experiences and knowledge and should be provided with opportunities to engage their inquisitive minds. Therefore, we provide vibrant, carefully-levelled continuous indoor and outdoor provision from EYFS to Year 2, to follow children’s interests and to support learners in investigating and developing life-long skills.
The curriculum is experience-based and open-ended, with a deep connection to the outdoors, and builds on children’s cultural capital at every opportunity to give them the fundamentals to succeed in life.
During their time in the EYFS and as they move onto KS1, children will discover how to be independent, active learners, making links between the many different areas of learning. They will be confident, motivated and engaged by a curriculum that sparks curiosity and resourcefulness, making them proud and confident to be a learner. They will be equipped with the skills and attitude that support the transition into KS2 and beyond, making them a life-long learner.
Long Term Plan
This is an overview of what is covered over the whole year. It informs the medium term plan and details the learning objectives identified in the EYFS Programmes of Study (statutory) and Development Matters EYFS curriculum guidance that we need to teach (non-statutory). The objectives covered in the plan include those from the 3-4 years development guidance as well as Reception guidance, given the wide range of starting points of our children. For children still accessing the 0-3 years development guidance, individual learning plans are in place.
Medium Term Plan
The medium term plan details the whole class inputs that the children will receive in line with whole school curriculum policies. These inputs teach the children the specific areas of the EYFS curriculum and match subject leaders plans for their subjects which can be viewed on each subject page.
Maths - Whole School Maths Curriculum and White Rose Maths.
Phonics - Rocket Phonics DFE validated scheme is followed.
English - The key English text is identified in the book overview that follows the Reception PICC a text 3 phase approach, which compliments the whole school PICC a text 4 phase approach.
Cross curricular - Our key English text guides the planning of the weekly theme and focussed activities we offer. Understanding the World and Expressive Art and Design are carefully tied into the themes that we offer. See “How our EYFS curriculum links with the school’s wider curriculum” document for more information.
R.E. – The Way, the Truth and the Life diocesan scheme is followed.
Short Term and ‘In the Moment’ planning
By carefully following the children’s interests and receptivity to the themes, staff plan play invitations and focussed activities to further develop children’s knowledge and skills. These are anticipatory forms of planning and subject to change when children do not respond to a theme or experience in the expected way.
In the moment, responsive planning, happens all of the time in EYFS and planning sheets are added to daily, to support enhancing learning in areas of provision – this is linked to the children’s personal learning and not the theme.
e.g. bubble play;
Children observed being very engrossed in bubble play, large group of 12 children around 2 tough trays.
Next day, add a small table next to the water trays with scissors, sticks, elastic – can chn make their own bubble wand?
Day after, add cubes as a measuring aid to try and encourage children to measure who has the largest bubble.
We are not driven by assessment and tracking. We view assessment as the EYFS practitioners’ ability to articulate a child’s progress and what they know about each child’s development. Assessment serves the children’s learning and our curriculum. Most assessment is formative, so that it quickly helps us to work with the children in the ‘here and now’ to make a difference to the child’s learning. However, we also need to have an overview of the children's progress, so that we can take further actions where needed and so we can monitor equalities. Our aim is for the system to be proportionate, and to ensure it is not overly burdensome.
‘In the Moment’ Assessment
One of the most powerful forms of assessment takes place in the moment, not on tracking sheets or in learning journals. This is when we notice something important about a child’s learning and respond in order to move their learning on. That response can take different forms;
- stand back and be encouraging.
- get involved to extend the learning, by joining in with the play, engaging in a conversation, or showing the child a specific skill to help them accomplish what they need or want to do.
- reflect afterwards and bring in new resources or plan something special in response to what we noticed.
This type of assessment work is not written down. It shows how we assess what children know and do. We help them make progress, through our minute-by-minute interactions.
The focus of our summative assessment is on clear and specific things that a child needs to be able to do (a skill), or needs to know (knowledge). Our practitioners have an understanding of how the different elements of our curriculum fit together to help children build on their learning over time.
At St. Clare’s we have developed our own termly One Page Assessment Snapshots to review core learning and make a judgement on where children are in their individual learning journey.
The Development Matters guidance, supports our practitioners in fulfilling their statutory responsibilities in line with the EYFS Framework (September 2021), to report on individual the development and learning and progress towards the Early Learning Goals (ELG’s).
Summative Assessment Activity
Reception Baseline Assessment (statutory)
Complete within first 6 weeks of accessing school.
School baseline assessment
Complete by end of September
School Autumn assessment
Complete by end of Autumn 2
School Spring assessment
Complete by end of Spring 2
EYFS Profile (Statutory)
Complete by 29th June and submit to Bradford LA
- children are confident, independent learners who are ready for Year 1.
- children have made good personal progress in line with their starting points.
- SEND is accurately identified with My Support Plans and EHCAs in place for all children who need them.
At St. Clare's we recognise that children are on a journey, and play-based learning should not end in EYFS. Our KS1 Vision document outlines how and why we have adopted a Continuous Provision curriculum beyond the early years.
Our Key Principles
- Effective Teaching and Learning in the EYFS meets children’s identified needs and interests and helps them develop in all seven areas of learning and development.
- Planning can either be intentional, responsive, or anticipatory and it moves flexibly across the continuum of adult led and child-initiated activities.
- Intentional planning of phonics, reading, writing and maths is carefully considered and in line with whole school procedures.
- Curriculum themes are carefully selected to expose the children to as much of the world around them as possible and are heavily influenced by quality text choices and acquisition of language and vocabulary.
- Time is provided for genuine play, that is free from adult’s plans and purposes.
- Play is a vehicle for learning and for children to express themselves in a developmentally appropriate way.
- Children learn at different rates and each child’s journey and development is unique.
- No assumptions are made about what prior experiences the children have had. Many children join our school having never left their primary care giver with very little knowledge of the world.
- Children learn best when they are happy, secure and involved in their learning. Well-being is a priority as without it, engagement isn’t possible.
- Relationships with families are key. Happy children need happy parents who feel understood and valued by school.
- Curriculum development is practitioner development : what we do and how we do it, matter equally.
- Every child can progress well in their learning, with the right support. Every child can thrive.
- Early identification of SEND is a priority and children with known SEND are supported right from their first transition visit.
Our curriculum is designed around quality texts that have been carefully chosen with equality, diversity, anti-racism and positive role models in mind. Children are read to everyday to build a love of literature. There is a careful balance of fiction, non-fiction and poetry within the book choices that we have made.
We aim to introduce the children to themes of self-identity, family dynamics, festivals and celebrations, the seasons, animals, plants, the past, people who help us and future careers, contrasting localities both in this country and the wider world. These books are a starting point for learning and help to inspire and guide the children. They form the basis of our ‘intentional planning’.
Continuous Provision Progression
Child initiated learning and ‘in the moment planning’ is facilitated by a carefully planned continuous provision learning environment. Our indoor and outdoor environments are linked to children's attainment. Learning takes place in the context of a play-based environment, which allows for curiosity, exploration and investigation. Therefore, fostering inquisitive and experiential learners through skill and knowledge rehearsal and development. Our understanding of skill development within the Early Years environment ensures we are providing meaningful, engaging, impactful and challenging continuous provision; where children thrive.
All practitioners in our EYFS setting worked together to level our continuous provision resources for every area of provision. The knowledge and skills the children would need to use the resource appropriately is carefully considered when determining the level of the resource. Key vocabulary children would need to learn was also identified. Resources are introduced to the children over the year when they show signs of readiness. Staff have regular learning conversations to make decisions on child readiness. We provide resources in a ‘teach to the top’ model so that no one is left unchallenged, with the role of the adult being to support all children in reaching their full potential.
Common Play Behaviours
When playing in provision areas with the children, common play behaviours are considered so that children are always developing and making progress. These prompts allow staff to support children in need of intervention and challenge those who need stretching.
Quality Adult Interactions
Due to the needs of our children and a high proportion of our school being EAL, EYFS staff are trained in intensive and early interaction. We make talking to the children a priority, making sure that we are ‘in the moment’ with the children, not distracted, and taking a real interesting in what they are playing, and what they are saying!