The Early Years Curriculum
BISC follows the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum as outlined by the Department of Education in England. The framework seeks to provide quality and consistency with an integrated approach to early learning. By following the EYFS framework, a secure foundation through learning is set, alongside solid and healthy partnerships with practitioners and parents, allowing for equality of opportunity.
There are seven areas of learning and development that must shape educational programmes in early years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, the prime areas, are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
We also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
What does this mean in practice?
- Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. We help children to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food
- Personal, social and emotional development involves us helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities
- Literacy development involves us encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. We give children access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest
- Mathematics involves us providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measure
- Understanding the World involves us guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment
- Expressive arts and design involves us enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology
Principles of Early Years Teaching and Learning
There are overarching principles that govern our Early Years practice. Indeed, these are principles that govern our work throughout the school:
- 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 teachers and parents and/or carers
- Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.
How do we teach Early Years Foundation Stage children?
Each area of learning and development is organised through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults. Teachers choose between activities led by children, and activities led or guided by adults. In so doing, they respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction. As children grow older, and as their development allows, we expect that the balance will gradually shift towards more activities led by adults, to help children prepare for more formal learning, ready for Year 1.
Teachers use the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:
- Playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
- Active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
- Creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
Assessment of the Early Learning Goals – how we measure progress
When teachers assess progress against the Early Learning Goals, they assess progress as follows:
The three prime areas
Communication and language:
Listening and attention: children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.
Understanding: children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.
Speaking: children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
Moving and handling: children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.
Health and self-care: children know the importance for good health of physical
exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.
Personal, social and emotional development:
Self-confidence and self-awareness: children are confident to try new activities and say why they like some activities more than others. They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities. They say when they do or don’t need help.
Managing feelings and behaviour: children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work as part of a group or class and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations and take changes of routine in their stride.
Making relationships: children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings and form positive relationships with adults and other children.
The four specific areas
Reading: children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.
Writing: children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
Numbers: children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.
Shape, space and measures: children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.
Understanding the world
People and communities: children talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. They know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this. They know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.
The world: children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur and talk about changes.
Technology: children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for purposes.
Expressive arts and design
Exploring and using media and materials: children sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.
Being imaginative: children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories.
Assessment in Practice
Assessment plays an important part in helping parents, carers and teachers to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment (also known as formative assessment) is an integral part of the learning and development process. It involves teachers observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations. In their interactions with children, teachers respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress and observations that parents and carers share.
Assessment does not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. We limit paperwork to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development.
We keep parents and/or carers should be kept up-to-date with their child’s progress and
development. Teachers address any learning and development needs in partnership with parents and/or carers, and any relevant professionals.
Assessment at the end of the EYFS
In the final term of the year in which the child reaches age five, we complete a Profile assessment for each child. The Profile provides parents, carers and teachers with a well-rounded picture of a child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities, their progress against expected levels, and their readiness for Year 1.
The Profile reflects:
all relevant records held by the setting
discussions with parents and carers, and any other adults whom the teacher, parent or carer judges can offer a useful contribution.
Each child’s level of development is assessed against the early learning goals (see Section 1).
Teachers indicate whether children are meeting expected levels of development, or if they are exceeding expected levels, or not yet reaching expected levels (‘emerging’). This is the EYFS Profile.
Year 1 teachers are given a copy of the Profile report together with a short commentary on each child’s skills and abilities in relation to the three key characteristics of effective learning. These inform a dialogue between Reception and Year 1 teachers about each child’s stage of development and learning needs and assist with the planning of activities in Year 1.
We share the results of the Profile with parents and/or carers and explain to them when and how they can discuss the Profile with the teacher who completed it.
We complete the Profile for all children, including those with special educational needs or disabilities. We make reasonable adjustments to the assessment process for children with special educational needs and disabilities, as appropriate, consulting specialist assistance where necessary.
Children will have differing levels of skills and abilities across the Profile and so we make a full assessment of all areas of their development, to inform plans for future activities and to identify any additional support needs.
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