Early Years Intent
In the Early Years at Saint Mary’s, our intent is to deliver an exciting, engaging and inclusive curriculum, rooted in our Catholic values, that is tailored to suit the individual needs of the children in our school. We work in partnership with parents to provide the best possible start at Saint Mary’s, ensuring that each child reaches their full potential from their various starting points.
Our curriculum has been designed to build on the children’s skills, knowledge and understanding on entry to Reception. Our learning environment enables children to be independent, to be curious, to make decisions about their learning, to take risks, to work collaboratively, to build resilience and to ask questions. We provide an engaging curriculum that maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences.
Our skillful adult interactions support the children to link their learning and experiences through their play from the start of Reception. With this in mind, we aim to provide an environment which nurtures, stimulates and challenges pupils. We want our pupils to be happy, confident and competent learners, who are able to communicate their needs and ideas.
Play is an essential part of children’s early development. Our curriculum ensures that children have the opportunity to engage in meaningful play with their peers and EYFS staff across all areas of the EYFS framework, both indoors and outdoors. as well as promoting the unique child by offering periods of free play and child-initiated learning.
By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their starting points are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1.
In Reception, we follow the Early Years Statutory Framework. This Framework specifies the requirement for learning and development in the Early Years and provides prime and specific areas of learning we must cover in our curriculum.
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
· Communication and Language development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
The characteristics of effective learning underpin all seven areas of learning in the foundation stage. These are the processes that children undertake in order to become confident, resilient and independent learners. The development of these characteristics is a crucial part of early learning and Saint Mary’s staff understand the importance of creating opportunities for children to develop these skills.
We enable our children to revisit knowledge and build upon experiences; assisting them to learn and remember more. We believe repetition is the key to development.
Our curriculum is rich in cultural capital and is a carefully planned fun and playful learning experience which intertwines all seven areas of learning, both indoors and outdoors. The experiences we provide our children are exciting, ambitious, broaden their experiences of the world around them and are designed in a sequential way to ensure progress towards the end of reception goals (ELG’s) with the aim of preparing our children to seamlessly progress into KS1. We understand that children’s early learning is the root of their future success and have considered how to best prepare them for when they leave the Foundation Stage.
Our children’s physical and mental wellbeing is important to us and we teach them important self-regulation techniques and how to make and build positive relationships. In Reception we have fortnightly Kapow PSHE lessons, in line with the whole school PSHE curriculum, in which we develop children’s emotional literacy. We want our children to be tolerant of others and understand the importance of being kind, tolerant and respectful. This is also threaded throughout our daily teaching and routines in Reception.
We have a weekly PE lesson, in line with the whole school PE curriculum, and develop gross motor skills of movement, co-ordination, dance, gymnastics, ball skills and team games. We also have access to our outdoor area daily where the children can climb, balance, run, jump, ride bikes and scooters and build on a large scale. The children are able to develop their fine motor skills through threading, dough, cutting, tracing, drawing, painting, dressing up and construction through our continuous provision.
Communication and Language
Importance is placed on talk and opportunities for discussion and conversation are plentiful. Talk matters in our Early Years and every child has the support they need to flourish. Our curriculum is language rich, with stories, non-fiction, poetry and nursery rhymes at its heart. We use the WellComm programme from the start of Reception, as an intervention to support any child that we feel may need support in their communication and language skills.
Understanding The World
We learn about the past and present through our life, our home and our community. We also learn about significant events from history, including Remembrance Day. We observe and talk about things from the past including families, transport, homes and the seaside and compare them to today.
We celebrate our own and other cultures and communities by exploring the families in our class and learning about special festivities including Diwali and Bonfire Night. We learn about the poor and vulnerable through our Building the Kingdom texts and explore how we can help those in need.
Our children develop early geographical skills like learning to follow a map and naming features of the seaside, alongside investigating the natural world around us. Our curriculum develops early scientific skills of enquiry and provides exciting opportunities for scientific investigation, including seasonal walks, minibeast hunts and taking care of our garden.
Expressive Arts and Design
Imagination and creativity are plentiful in our early years and alongside their own original masterpieces, we teach the children about famous artists including Jackson Pollock, Alma Thomas and Andy Goldsworthy. We foster a love of music and our children know and can say traditional Nursery Rhymes.
Technology is interwoven through our curriculum as we teach our children how to use and understand everyday devices like iPads, cameras, torches and computers. This equips them for the modern world in which we live. We also follow Kapow lessons, the whole school Computing curriculum.
Literacy – Reading and Phonics
Reading is an integral part of our curriculum in Reception. The children are read to at least twice a day at school in addition to books provided for home reading. We place great importance on the daily teaching of phonics, alongside fostering a lifelong love of reading. Lessons are planned to enrich vocabulary, evoke responses and deepen knowledge through stories, non-fiction and poetry. Incidental opportunities are exploited and vocabulary is discussed throughout the day, with the intention of building background knowledge so that pupils can comprehend the content of a text.
Phonics: Systematic synthetic phonics is taught using ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds.’ Whole class or small group teaching takes place daily. Each phonics session is 15-20 minutes in duration and follows a teaching sequence which is implemented throughout the school ensuring transition to Key Stage 1 is seamless. Phonics teaching begins as soon as the children are in school full time.
Guided Reading: Short group reading sessions takes place daily in Reception and texts are carefully chosen by staff to develop important reading skills of decoding, fluency and comprehension. Books are chosen to match each child’s phonic knowledge.
Individual Reading: Encouraging a lifelong love for reading is part of our school vision to create learners for life. All children have their own individual reading books which are phonetically decodable. They also have two ‘Sharing Books’ which should be read to the child by an adult at home.
Story times: Carefully chosen books are shared as a whole class daily in story times and this is something our children really look forward to. We consider each book that is chosen for story time and encourage the children to join in, answer and ask questions, make predictions and most importantly, enjoy being read to!
Our maths teaching and learning is carefully planned and sequenced to allow success in achieving the Number and Number Patterns ELG and is based on the NCETM principals of maths mastery. The Number Blocks join us on our mathematical journey and help our children learn and remember more in a playful, fun and exciting way.
We have a daily maths session in which we teach key concepts in a practical and hands on way and then provide opportunities for skills taught to be applied during our continuous provision and guided activities. Sustained shared thinking allows children to be supported to use their mathematical skills and knowledge to solve problems, take different approaches and discuss various strategies in their play both indoors and outdoors.
In line with the whole school, Reception take part in daily collective worship, including Liturgy, prayers and meditation.
We follow the whole school RE curriculum ‘Learning and Growing as People of God’ in our weekly RE lessons. The children learn about key events in the Church’s calendar including Christmas and Easter, as well as about special people in the lift of Jesus. The children explore and express their religious knowledge through role play, art, writing and discussion.
At St Mary’s we place importance on the role of the adult, particularly during continuous provision.
Indoor and outdoor resources are organised to develop children’s skills in personal interaction and exploration. Resources are carefully selected to meet the development needs of the children in order to enhance potential for new learning and consolidate prior learning.
Continuous provision incorporates all areas of learning and provides children with the opportunity to demonstrate characteristics of effective learning. Children are given the freedom to make independent choices and are encouraged to be active learners and take control of their own learning.
Observations inform our planning of experiences and opportunities, how we create our environment for thinking, the strategies the adults use to extend learning (modelling, scaffolding, questioning, discussion, shared sustained thinking) and how we capitalise knowledge of children’s interests to ensure high levels of engagement.