Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum
In our Early Years Foundation stage, we provide high-quality EYFS education, giving children a secure and confident start to their school life. We are committed to nurturing a lifelong love of learning alongside the aims of the EYFS Statutory Framework. We strive for high standards, consider the development of the whole child and seek to foster resilience and independence. We are inclusive and welcoming to all. We aim to provide the essential knowledge that children need to prepare them for their future success and to give children the best possible start to their early education.
To do this we plan our curriculum so that it can:
- Provide experiences of awe and wonder
- Broaden minds and children’s outlook on life
- Reduce disadvantage
- Consider children’s backgrounds and experiences
- Develop knowledge and understanding of the community and wider world
At Oldfield Brow Primary School we have one Nursery class and two Reception classes: Sunrays and Moonbeams. Each class has their own classroom and share a dedicated outdoor space. Sunrays and Moonbeams share a purposeful breakout area which is used for interventions and focused group activities. Staff are organised to support the children in a balance of adult- led and child-initiated experiences throughout the sessions and the EYFS children have dedicated time to explore inside and outside the classroom. The experienced teams plan a variety of exciting learning opportunities each day as well as responding to unplanned themes or topics that interest the children.
How do we teach in EYFS?
In our classroom, you may see children playing alone or with their peers, deciding on resources and choosing how to spend their time. You may see a child playing and listening to an adult, who is modelling how to achieve something or teaching a new skill that interests the child.
Adults may scaffold a children’s play. This involves taking their play to higher levels of learning, entering the play as a co-creator and helping to provoke a framework for the children to go from “what they know” to “what else they could know”! Scaffolding enables a child to solve a problem, carry out a task or achieve a goal which is just beyond his or her abilities. During play, where foundational social and emotional skills are developed, scaffolding is a bridge to new skill levels using three key ingredients; modelling the skill, giving clues and asking questions while the child is trying out a new skill, and then as the child approaches mastery, withdrawing the support.
The new statutory framework does not prescribe a particular teaching approach. The DfE (2021) state in the framework (p16) that “Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, relate to others, set their own goals and solve problems. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.”
EYFS staff decide what we want our children to learn in our classroom, through our provision, and the most effective ways to teach it. Each day, we stimulate children’s interests, respond to each child’s emerging needs and guide their development through warm, positive interactions coupled with secure routines for play and learning. As children grow older and develop their skills throughout the Reception year, we use more direct teaching and modelling and plan specific sequences of lessons. These strategies help us to focus on teaching the essential skills and knowledge in specific areas of learning so that children develop the skills and confidence required for the end of their Reception year.
The Statutory Framework
There are three prime areas of learning:
- Communication and Language Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
There are four core areas of learning:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
Early Learning Goals
The Early Learning Goals (ELGs) are the knowledge, skills and understanding which young children should have acquired by the time they reach the age of five.
In addition, the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.
The Characteristics of Effective Learning are:
Playing and exploring-engagement
Creating and thinking critically-thinking
Our Curriculum Intent:
In line with our school motto ‘only the very best will do’ our mission statement declares that ‘We want our children to be happy, tolerant, resilient, ambitious individuals who reach their full potential so they can impact positively upon the wider world around them’. From this, along with our School Development Plan, we have identified four key themes to catalyse the improvement of our curriculum. These themes are Reading, Enquiry, Ambition and Diversity. With these themes in mind, we aim to guide our planning for the Early Years Foundation Stage to engage the children in a stimulating environment. We aim to provide a broad and balanced curriculum which will enable each child to develop personally, socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, creatively, and intellectually to their full potential. We aim to provide a curriculum that will set in place firm foundations for further learning and development in Key Stage 1 and beyond and equip the individual with skills relevant to leading a healthy life in adulthood (including physical and mental health). We value every child as an individual, with teaching and learning based on the understanding that children develop at different rates. We strive to provide a safe, challenging, stimulating, caring, and sharing environment which is sensitive to the needs of the child including children with additional needs. We aim to support learning with appropriate and accessible indoor and outdoor space, facilities, and equipment. We aim to use and value each child’s strengths, assessing their individual needs and helping each child to progress. We intend to encourage for children to communicate and talk about their learning, and to develop independence and self-confidence. We aim to develop a partnership between teachers and parents, so that the children feel secure at school and develop a sense of well-being and achievement. We aim to provide opportunities whereby children experience a challenging and enjoyable programme of learning and development whatever their needs. We intent to promote high expectations of behaviour to ensure all children enjoy their educational journey in EYFS. We intend to actively build resilience and good mental health. We aim to regularly monitor, evaluate, and improve what we do.
We aim to ensure our EYFS practise is guided by four fundamental principles specific to our Early Years:
Hands on, exciting learning experiences
Creative learning opportunities
Purposeful invitations to play
High quality enhancements
Engaging learning hooks
Equal emphasis on both indoor and outdoor learning
Clear routine and structure for play and learning
Learning which builds on prior knowledge and experiences
Children’s interests are incorporated into our provision
Clear understanding of each child’s next steps and where they need to go in their learning
Constant focus on the wellbeing of each child
Strong partnership between home and school
Enquiry question as half-termly topic
Question led planning
Open-ended interactions and activities
Investigative provision and enhancements
High quality texts as hooks
Vocabulary-rich conversations and interactions
High quality texts in provision
New vocabulary modelled and explained
Print rich classrooms
A wide range of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books
A wide range of opportunities for developing speech and language skills from stories
Daily songs and nursery rhymes
Daily story times
Exploration of new authors
Exploration of poetry
Culturally diverse books and authors
As a team, we use these four fundamental themes to guide our planning, to engage the children in a stimulating environment, filled with ambitious language and opportunities for social interaction and physical activity. We enrich the learning through hands-on experiences specific to each cohort, using high-quality interactions with a focus on vocabulary and questioning. We develop the wider cultural capital, broadening horizon and educating our pupils as global citizens.
Our planning focuses on the children’s needs, their interests and their stages of development. We seek opportunities to make links between the areas of learning and plan next steps accordingly.
We follow an enquiry-based approach to guide our planning. Each half-term we investigate a new enquiry question. We identify potential themes within this enquiry question to deepen understanding, however we are also guided by the children’s interests. This planning successfully embeds the EYFS curriculum in an exciting and age- appropriate way whilst giving EYFS children a taste of some foundation subjects before they transition into Year One.
We deliver the curriculum through planned, purposeful play as well as adult-directed learning to enable the children to build on what they already know. In class the children will be taught as a whole class, in small groups or individuals to ensure that all children are progressing from their own individual starting point.
Our staff encourage the children to guide us in shaping their learning experiences. The team discuss with the children about what they are interested in and which skills they would like to develop further. Children are encouraged to bring books and resources that interest them into school to share with their peers. In addition, we use parent observations in the form of WOW moments to learn more about the children’s likes and dislikes. We develop children’s curiosity and encourage inquisitiveness and a hunger for learning and find ways to answer the children’s many questions!
The EYFS team provide a challenging, exciting and attractive learning environment that offers high-quality opportunities for the children to learn through play within the classroom and outside.
We often provide opportunities within continuous provision that is designed to offer practical, open-ended learning opportunities where children are enabled to think creatively and imaginatively. The children are supported to explore how resources can be adapted and use their skills in a variety of contexts. We develop problem-solving skills through open-ended tasks and encourage children to share their thinking with others.
High quality texts:
Together, we strive to ensure that high quality texts are found in many areas of our provision. High quality texts are also used frequently as hooks, where a story is used as the basis for exploration and learning. We explore text in many forms, from information texts to poems.
In EYFS we are enthusiastic about exploring popular authors, as well as authors who may be less well known. We strive to ensure that the books within our classrooms are representative of the children in our care. We are passionate about fostering a lifelong love of reading within each child, and we start right from Nursery. We ensure that the children engage in daily story times.
To support children’s skills in the prime area of PSED, we aim to promote an understanding of people, different cultures and communities beyond their own. Through carpet times, PATHS and learning opportunities we teach the language of feelings to develop emotional literacy and support emotional security through regular circle time sessions, discussions, modelled behaviour and provision of a safe learning environment.
By focusing on the characteristics of effective learning, we strive to promote resilience, motivation and appropriate risk taking and problem solving. This supports the child’s independence and builds on key skills that they will need throughout their life.
We teach children about how to keep themselves healthy through good hygiene, healthy eating, exercise and being kind to others. Children are taught about how to keep themselves safe online, in the home, and how to behave around things that may be harmful to their health. We have visitors from the community such as: the fire brigade and guide dogs.
“Nature is a tool to get children to experience not just the wider world, but themselves.” – Steven Moss
“The best classroom and the richest classroom is roofed only by the sky.” – Margaret McMillan
At Oldfield Brow Primary School, we believe that the whole curriculum can be covered creatively in a well-planned outdoor environment. In EYFS we spend lots of dedicated time investigating and learning outside. Through these outdoor learning experiences, we strive to build healthier, happier, safer, stronger, and smarter children of the future.
“If we restore nature, nature restores us!”
There are no boundaries to outdoor learning within our EYFS. Outdoor learning is integral part of our day – the range of activities can be endless. Movement is a vital part of play and learning. Growth and the development of the body, brain and feelings are inseparable. Our children have first to experience the world through all their senses before they can think in the abstract. The children are encouraged to challenge, explore, restore, investigate, trial and question. Our outside area is planned to provide exciting opportunities for both independent sensory exploration and adult directed learning opportunities. High quality interactions between staff and children allows learning to be scaffolded and facilitated, just as it is inside the classroom. The children use this space all year round, in all weathers, further enhancing their learning opportunities by exploring the world around them. There is constant adult supervision and interaction outside.
We value the contribution that our parents and carers make to their child’s learning and take every opportunity to work in collaboration with them. We provide an opportunity for parents to document WOW moments throughout the year. We encourage all parents to add observations from home so that we can gain a wider view of their child. In the Autumn and Spring terms we hold parents’ consultations and in the Summer term we send home detailed reports.
The children in Nursery take story books home, while Reception take home reading books in line with their phonics level along with a reading record book which parents/carers are asked to write in every time they read with their child. We also provide ‘Phonics and Reading’ workshops for parents to attend so that they can learn more about how they can support their child at home. We update our class pages and our school Twitter weekly.
Parents are invited in to school for a variety of shared experiences, such as ‘Book Start’ meetings and assemblies.
Community Links and the Wider World
Over the year, we arrange visits from members of the local community to support our topic work. We also arrange trips within the local community, for example visiting the library, the village amenities or the church.
Film clips, non-fiction texts and artefacts are also used to introduce new concepts in real-life contexts. We aim to develop the children’s awareness of other cultures by exploring different countries and celebrations through our topic lessons.