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Russell Lower School

Foundation Stage Curriculum

Early Years Foundation Stage Intent

At Russell Lower School, we intend that our ambitious and inclusive EYFS curriculum educates all children in knowledge, skills and understanding, to be effective, inquisitive, curious, independent learners. It will influence their wider thinking across all areas of the curriculum as they start out on their educational journey, supporting them to progress from their individual starting points and preparing them for year 1.

 

 

Challenge

 

Enjoy

 

Respect

 

Succeed

To challenge and inspire children to be intellectually curious.

To ensure children are happy, safe and enjoying their education.

To be proud, confident and respectful.

To work together to ensure, every child can succeed and exceed expectations.

 

 

Every child has the right to:

 Be included

Feel safe

Feel happy

Learn

 

Teaching Aims

Through the seven areas of learning we provide coherently sequenced and planned topics that excite and engage children, building on their own interests and developing their experiences of the world around them.

Prime areas of Learning

  • Communication and language
  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Physical development

Specific areas of learning

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

We recognise that all children come into our setting with varied experiences and all staff work hard to ensure that the learning opportunities provided widen their knowledge and understanding of the world, setting ambitious expectations for all children.

It is our intention that children learn through a balance of whole class/group teaching and play based learning.  This is through topics, themes, continuous provision activities and the children’s interests.  Children in EYFS will engage in playful learning experiences and with resources both inside and outside.

The broad and balanced curriculum provides opportunities for adult-led activities, adult initiated activities and child-initiated activities.  We focus on promoting the more general concepts of British values within the curriculum and understand that the children’s development within these areas is key to promoting the values in the long term. We are passionate about creating opportunities for all children to communicate more easily through developing language and communication skills and specifically teaching vocabulary.   

 

Aspirations for Learners

Our ethos in Early Years is to support children’s personal, social and emotional development so that they feel safe and secure and are ready to learn.  There are opportunities to follow the children’s interests and provide opportunities to support learning, consolidate and deepen knowledge ensuring children meet their next steps.  The curriculum celebrates diversity and supports the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Those children with particular needs, including SEND, receive support allowing them to be successful.

By working in partnership with parents and carers, we will encourage independent, happy learners who thrive in school and reach their full potential from their various starting points.  The children will develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to make a smooth transition into Year 1.  We wish our children to believe in themselves and their abilities and capabilities, to belong to the school learning community and the wider community and to become successful in their academic career and beyond.  We endeavour to give the children the Cultural Capital they need for future success i.e. giving each child the best start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their full potential and achieve future success.

 

 Characteristics of learning

  • Playing and exploring
  • Active learning
  • Creating and thinking critically

 

Our Early Years principles are based on EYFS statutory guidance and the four overarching principles of good practice:

  • 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 school and home.
  • Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.
 
Assessment
Our Early Years practice is based on on-going observation and assessment of the children and their interests. We use Development Matters in order to monitor the progress children are making towards achieving the Early Learning Goals at the end of the Foundation Stage.
 Click below to see the Foundation Stage subject curriculum map.
For details on reading please see here
For details on writing please see here
For details on maths please see here

Implementation

Our Early Years curriculum is carefully redesigned and sequenced in line with the EYFS statutory framework and non-statutory guidance, focussing on skill progression in each half-term and from week to week and lesson to lesson.  There is a focus on deepening and embedding key learning, knowledge and skills – depth in early learning is much more important than covering many concepts in a superficial way.  Milestones support progression and assessment throughout the year culminating in the Early Learning Goals.

The long term curriculum plan is ambitious and identifies when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. Some areas are taught discretely, however staff make meaningful links across subjects through themes. For example, in EAD and CLL when the children learn rhymes poems and songs.

Within Early Years we focus our teaching on the guidance outlined within Development Matters and Birth to Five Matters.  Some areas of learning are revisited throughout the year where pupils progressively build their skills and knowledge and can link prior skills and knowledge to new learning to deepen their learning. For example, in C and L when the children develop the skills and experience that they need to use vocabulary in different contexts.

Within all lessons we are working towards Rosenshine’s 17 Principles of Effective Instruction and use of the Great Teaching Toolkit.  Short-term plans set out the learning objectives and success criteria for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them.  Within Early Years lessons we believe that every child can make progress with the right support.

Children are taught very clear and concise skills such as ‘To continue a repeating pattern’ along with knowledge and understanding for example, inviting children to make patterns with varying rules.  Within the lessons, prior learning from the unit and previous units is consolidated through re-cap and reinforcement to ensure children can make links between skills/knowledge and previously learnt skills/knowledge such as extending and creating ABAB patterns.

Questioning, modelling and feedback are used to support the teaching and learning process, ensure progression within every lesson and aid assessment.

More so than ever we provide flexibility within the Early Years curriculum to meet children’s needs, interests and understanding due to the impact of Covid 19.  We are aware that children joining the reception year at Russell Lower School have spent a third of their lives in Lockdown, therefore we will focus on Barry Carpenter’s 5 levers; routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom.  This will result in various adaptions and restructuring of the curriculum to ensure that children are accessing a well-rounded and rich Early Years curriculum.  This has meant an increased focus on mental health and wellbeing and giving children increased opportunities to focus on relationships through team work and cooperation within the curriculum.

As we move forward with our Early Years curriculum we will continue to identify gaps in learning and address these through changes to planning and sequencing to ensure the best possibly progress is made such as using the results of the Baseline Assessment to inform planning and ensuring that planning is flexible.

Click below to see the Foundation Stage theme webs.
Click below to see our learning logs.

Impact

In order to measure the impact of our Early Years curriculum we use a range of formative and summative assessment in all lessons such as:

  • Questioning
  • Pupil voice
  • Observations/learning walks/drop ins
  • Analysis of our assessment tool linked to Development Matters statements

Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring of teaching and learning cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in Early Years as well as indicating areas for development.

Academic outcomes and impact:

outcomes for the year 2022/23:

In 2022-2023 88% of pupils achieved, a Good Level of Development compared to the outcomes in 2021- 2022 when 83% of pupils achieved a Good Level of Development. 

We delivered an updated recovery curriculum and it is clear that by continuing to focus on this for the 2022-2023 cohort who also experienced lockdown, these pupils fulfilled their potential and achieved good outcomes.

 

Other outcomes and impact:

Pupils took part in whole school activities such as Irish dancing and a Bhangra dance workshop.  These activities gave them the opportunity to move rhythmically and in time to the music   

Sports Day gave the pupils an opportunity to develop their wellbeing, resilience and physical activity as well as enabling the children to have fun working on their teamwork skills. 

Pupils visited King’s Arms Garden and St Andrew’s Church in order to explore the natural world around them and understand that some places are special to members of the community.  They visited Ampthill Library in order to foster a love of books.  Pupils visited Herrings Green farm, which inspired them to become barn owl experts.  Paintings, drawings and fact files about barn owls preceded this visit.

The last Early Years monitoring, via a Deep Dive visit took place on 15th February 2023.   As a result of this visit, the School Improvement Adviser requested that two members of the reception team from a local lower school visit Early Years at Russell to see good examples of LSAs supporting children’s learning through questioning and ability to extend their learning.  They were also looking for examples of good practice and organisation in the running of the classroom.