Why we learn in the Early Years:

At St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, the Early Years provides a curriculum that develops the pupil holistically and offers opportunities for all pupils to achieve individual goals which will set them up for their learning and overall development throughout their time in primary school and beyond.

It is our intention to ensure that by the end of their early years’ education, all pupils will have a deep understanding of the basic principles and skills in all subject areas which will ensure their development in future year groups and beyond. It is also our intention to ensure that all pupils are confident communicators and are able to build good, respectful and fair relationships with others. Pupils are given a wide range of opportunities to access the wider curriculum by taking part in regular real-life experiences. Reading is at the heart of learning in the Early Years and opportunities to access books and vocabulary is provided throughout the curriculum.

At St Mary’s it is our intent to ensure pupils will:

  • be enthusiastic, inquisitive, lifelong learners: we provide opportunities for learning based on what pupils are interested in as well as their talents. We provide many opportunities for hands-on learning to make it real for pupils.
  • be strong communicators: we provide opportunities for pupils to develop their communication and language skills through modelling conversations, talk tasks, speaking and listening activities in our continuous provision and by insisting pupils speak in full sentences.
  • be well-rounded, independent and resilient learners with aspirations: pupils are encouraged to challenge themselves and to revisit learning to ensure retention and further development. This is done through linking activities to our continuous provision. Pupils are taught skills that support them in both independent activities and group work.
  • develop their God given talents by being creative: we provide daily opportunities for pupils to develop themselves holistically, by giving them choice of high quality, engaging activities based on their talents.
  • be responsible citizens who are eager to make a positive contribution to their community and wider society: we celebrate diversity through our curriculum and provide many opportunities for pupils to understand different cultures and religions. Pupils are given many opportunities to learn about self-care, self-regulation, mental health and keeping safe.

How we learn in the Early Years:

At St Mary’s, we teach the Early Years Curriculum based on Development Matters as well as following pupils’ interests and needs. We have one topic per half term. The pupils are immersed in these topics and links are made, where possible, with different subjects and throughout both the indoor and outdoor environments. Our holistic curriculum has the child’s future throughout primary school and beyond in mind; Staff are aware of and use the curriculum maps for all subjects across the school to ensure the pupils have the very best start to their education.

The curriculum is modified each year to suit the individual needs in the class. When planning, we take into account pupils’ backgrounds and cultures. We ensure that pupils are accessing different experiences that they may not access otherwise, such as taking them to the theatre and visits in our local area. We plan many real-life experiences in the Early Years such as weekly cooking, exploring physical artefacts, real-life mathematical activities and role-playing or taking part in actual situations/celebrations.

Reading is extremely important in the EYFS. We have weekly readers sent home, phonics is taught through a whole-school approach (Read, Write, Inc), we have a book of the week, book corners are regularly rotated with a range of fiction and non-fiction books, which are partly linked with the current topic, and pupils have access to books and reading opportunities throughout the environment.

The child-led environment is exciting with a range of activities that all pupils can access and enjoy whilst they learn. Pupils are encouraged to communicate and work together and activities are planned to promote discussion. Pupils have access to the outdoor area and interesting activities are set up daily for pupils to explore and learn. We have regular circle times where we discuss personal, social and emotional matters. These sessions teach pupils to self-regulate more effectively. Pupils are encouraged to use the zones of regulation; with a specific area in the classroom set up so pupils can use a range of resources and strategies to self-regulate.

We use a range of formative and summative assessment strategies regularly. Pupils begin the year by taking part in a baseline assessment, which informs future planning of the curriculum. We use Tapestry as a way to assess the pupils as well as communicate to parents what their child has been doing. Regular interventions take place with both pupils who display misconceptions in a lesson or activity as well as timetabled interventions for our lowest achieving pupils and SEND pupils.

As a result…

The impact the EYFS curriculum has on the pupils is shown through the progress results shown on Target Tracker – it looks at the progress from the baseline assessments to the end of the year. It also is shown through the results of the Early Learning Goals for each pupil. Formative assessments are also used on an ongoing basis through the use of Tapestry observations, questioning, small group and one to one activities and conversations with the children.

The pupils are also able to show us their understanding of concepts through activities set out in the areas around the classroom and the outdoor area. Adults are able to observe the pupils carrying out independent tasks and can intervene if any misconceptions arise. Children show their understanding through conversations with adults as well as their peers.

Children’s learning is displayed around the classroom and around the school. Through these displays, the children’s learning is celebrated but also the children can see the progress they have made/will make through their school life.

The curriculum in the EYFS focuses not only on the Early Learning Goals, but also the goals they will be working towards as they go into KS1 and KS2. Because of this, the children in the EYFS will have a wide range of skills that will equip them for their life.