Early Years

Overview of EYFS Curriculum at South Street Primary School

Intent: Why do we teach what we teach? 

At South Street Primary School, we place great value on the development of the whole child, and we recognise that they need high levels of well-being and involvement to enable them to achieve to the best of their potential.  We value every child as a unique person. We recognise that every child has talents, interests and different starting points to their learning journey that need to be acknowledged so that we can provide them with further skills, knowledge and understanding they need to be school ready.  Our aim in the EYFS at South Street Primary School is to build strong foundations for every child on which future learning can be built.  The foundations in learning that we intend to provide for our children are rooted in the development of their own emotional and physical well-being, and in giving them a nurturing experience which enables them to become respectful, responsible, resilient citizens with a lifelong love of learning.  The foundations we provide aim to encourage each child to be happy, healthy and to aspire to achieve their own dreams, goals and aspiration for success.   

Our curriculum provides opportunities for children to learn and develop through the interconnected:

Characteristics of Effective Learning:

  • Engagement,
  • Motivation, Creative and Critical Thinking

 The Prime Areas of Learning and Development

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development

The Specific Areas of Learning and Development

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

These areas of learning and development add to the unique funds of knowledge that each individual brings to our school.  Our school is culturally diverse and we welcome families who bring with them a wide range of cultural capital. As children enter the EYFS at our school, we teach them to learn more about themselves and others and we celebrate difference.  Our provision helps children to learn from each other as well as through direct teaching from the adults. Our curriculum, co-constructed with children and parents, intends to offer our pupils the tools they need to gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require to understand and enjoy being part of a diverse community, for future success at school and beyond.  

Many of our children enter the EYFS below national expectations for their age, in the prime areas Communication and Language and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.  We welcome an increasing number of children with English as an additional Language.  Our curriculum therefore prioritises language acquisition.  It focuses particularly on learning and understanding a wide range of vocabulary through offering access to a range of stories, songs and rhymes and by engaging children in hands on experiences.   We teach our children how to listen, speak well and we meet high expectations for behaviour by working together and being kind.

Our Early Years curriculum prioritises personal, social and emotional development and communication and language in the nursery.   From the earliest points of entry to our school our children are introduced to the wonderful world of stories and reading for pleasure.  They learn how to tune into sounds in their environment and how to play with sounds in language. 

Our enabling environment has been developed with language acquisition and building a love of reading at its heart.  Staff have worked to provide communication friendly spaces and cosy corners for children to share books together.  The children’s love of books and confidence to independently read begins with the enjoyment of sharing books together with adults and friends in inviting cosy spaces. Warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration.

As the pupils move into Reception, we invest time into helping pupils set and reflect on their own goals by aiming high and developing 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 develop well-being and involvement, curiosity and an eagerness to explore through a well-planned and continuous indoor and outdoor provision, planned trips and visitors to the setting. 

Our school grounds offer extensive opportunities to explore nature and to observe the changes in nature throughout the seasons.  Learning opportunities through the seasons features across our planned curriculum.  We aim to harness the impact that learning outdoors can have on an individual’s wellbeing, and progress across all seven areas of learning and development.

Implementation: How do we teach what we teach? 

Our curriculum is play based; is co-constructed with the children and values a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities.  The daily routines in both Nursery and Reception, are carefully structured so that children have opportunities to gather in small and large groups directed by an adult and through independent play alongside adults who provide teaching and learning through high-quality interactions. 

On entry to each class, children enjoy a small group experience where they can greet each other and focus on PSED. Each class has a message board that is used to recall previous learning, to introduce new learning and to record ideas. 

In Nursery, direct teaching is woven into the routine.  Maths is directly taught through problem solving at snack time and through planned number rhymes. Literacy is taught, through playful music and early phonics play opportunities, and through thoughtful planning of key texts.  As children progress from Nursery and into Reception more rigorous directed teaching is planned in English, maths and phonics every day. 

Developing the Characteristics of Effective Learning are important to our school and are used as an integral part of how we plan activities and small group times. Plan, Do, Review times that occur in both classes help our children to increase motivation, engagement and creative and critical thinking skills.  It offers them opportunities for listening and responding to the ideas of others, and to hear adults modelling the language of the of effective learning and thinking. 

The daily routine set out in both classes enables shared control of the curriculum and therefore gives the child a voice in what they learn.  Child-initiated times acknowledge children’s learning plans, while focused adult-directed group times means the teacher can plan for identified next steps in learning.  During adult-directed learning, the adult can check for understanding of planned learning outcomes, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.    

Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences and introduction of new resources that are carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. Our curriculum gives equal importance to learning inside and outside classroom.  It is planned in a cross-curricular way and is holistic.  It enables children to learn and develop across all seven areas of learning.

Reading and language development is at the heart of our curriculum.  Children follow the rigorous systematic, synthetic phonics program Little Wandle: Revised Letters and Sounds. There is also a focus on developing a love of reading for pleasure. Children are encouraged to share stories with key people in planned cosy reading areas in the learning environment, key stories that children enjoy are shared with home and libraries in school are used regularly.  Children regularly visit the local community library as part of the long-term Literacy plan.  Long and medium-term planning uses key texts as a starting point on which to extend learning.  Texts are planned to ensure that Nursery children experience repeated refrains and simple story structures that they can join in with and retell.  As children progress into Reception class texts build on favourite tales experienced in Nursery, and extend to increasingly more challenging story structures, and books that they can read independently.   

An approach to teaching maths has been developed so that there is an emphasis on studying the key skills of number, calculation and shape progressively and with opportunities for children to revisit concepts and to embed learning.  Our maths plans enable pupils to develop a deep understanding of number and the acquisition of mathematical language form their starting point on entry to the setting.   In Reception, curriculum planning creates opportunities for children to master the skills and vocabulary required for counting, making comparisons, cardinality and composition, as well as the aspects of shape, space and measures.  Children learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives which are then rehearsed and applied to in their own explorations. Manipulative and visual resources are introduced in Nursery and used consistently across the phase and into key stage one and beyond so that children can learn become experts with using them to support their mathematical understanding. Pupils begin to develop key skills during incidental opportunities for counting at transition times for example, through daily snack times and message board times where they explore sorting, quantities, shape, number and counting awareness. These early mathematical experiences are carefully designed to help pupils remember the content they have been taught and to support them with integrating their new knowledge across the breadth of their experiences.

Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be reaching their potential or moving on children who are doing very well. Approaches we have used include, prioritising quality interactions through play; Early Talk Boost; Talk Boost and Theraplay sessions.  Some of our children with more complex needs are supported to develop social interaction with intensive interaction.

Our observation, assessment and planning approach is integral to our provision and enables ongoing review and development of our curriculum.  Planning is in response to what we observe through children’s play which helps us to create a bespoke curriculum for each child.  The Characteristics of Effective Learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are also reflected on when we make observations of children.  

Our school also adopts a mindful approach to teaching PSHE through the ‘Jigsaw’ approach, that supports our vision to enable children to navigate their world and to develop positive relationships with themselves and others. The Jigsaw approach has a strong emphasis on developing emotional literacy, building resilience and nurturing mental and physical health.  It includes helping children to become mindful, advancing their emotional awareness, concentration, and focus.  The jigsaw themes thread through the overarching themes outlined in the EYFS long term plan. 

Impact: How do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it? 

Our curriculum meets the emotional and well-being needs of our children.  Our school recognises that it is important to nurture and improve the well-being and involvement of all and our curriculum enables us to achieve this. Throughout, our school staff refer to the Leuven scale which allows all adults to measure a child’s emotional well-being and involvement. The idea of emotional well-being and involvement is particularly important in early years because it safeguards a child’s emotional development whilst encouraging engagement for the learning development.  Every term practitioners assess children’s wellbeing and involvement against the Leuven Scales.  Progress from starting points is measured and impact evident.  Practitioners note if children are not making progress and consider how emotional needs can best be supported. 

Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of our children, including our children with English as an additional language, disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND, so we spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning.  Our approach to teaching in Early Years prioritise time for us to talk to and observe children so that we can provide ongoing changes to our curriculum based upon our knowledge of each unique child. Every member of staff uses ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress. They identify next steps in learning through creating PLODS (possible lines of development) which identify interests and what children already know, what they need to learn next and how this will be delivered.  Staff act as play partners to support individuals to take next steps in response to the PLODS and record impact.   

Our curriculum and its delivery ensures that children make good progress from their starting points. Children in our early years, on average, arrive with low starting points in the prime areas.  During their time in our EYFS, children typically make good progress so that cohorts are close to meeting national average for GLD at the end of the Reception year.  Children who are not yet working within their age-related developmental range are identified early for intervention or SEND.  Discussion between Reception and Year One practitioners are integral to our plans for supporting every child’s transition into Year One.  Discussion always begins with each child’s characteristics of learning. We believe our success is due to rigorous assessment and evaluation in conjunction with our commitment to the early years guiding principles – valuing the unique child, building positive relationships and creating a rich play-based enabling environment that promotes independence and enables development of the Characteristics of Effective Learning. Our children are happy, curious and enthusiastic learners!

If you would like further information about the curriculum, please contact Mrs Wynn in the school office. 


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