What is our intention?
Early Years is the foundation of education. It is a unique, short timespan where the brain is most malleable and language is most readily acquired. At Applegarth Primary School, our staff know the children very well as individuals and plan learning and provision to develop existing talents and interests whilst discovering new ones. We provide children with a range of rich, first-hand learning experiences both indoors and outdoors to develop their love and excitement for learning. Our day comprises a balance of direct teaching, guided learning and child-initiated play to support pupils’ academic and holistic development. Purposeful adult interaction allows us to challenge thinking, build on prior learning and develop growth mindsets. High-quality books are at the heart of our curriculum to develop key early learning skills in reading and writing; we teach new vocabulary and promote early language by modelling storytelling and encouraging role play. Early reading is taught through a synthetic phonics program: Little Wandle. A number of other key resources support the progression of skills and knowledge for our curriculum. These include Curriculum Maestro, Development Matters (2020) and the EYFS statutory framework (2021). There are seven areas of learning and development which shapes our learning and assessment:
· Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Self-Regulation, Managing Self and Building Relationships
· Physical Development: Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills
· Communication and Language: Listening, Attention and Understanding, Speaking
· Literacy: Comprehension, Word Reading and Writing
· Mathematics: Number and Numerical Patterns
· Understanding the World: Past and Present, People, Culture and Communities, The Natural World
· Expressive Arts and Design: Creating with Materials , Being Imaginative and Expressive
In planning and guiding what children learn, we must reflect on the different rates at which children are developing and adjust our practice accordingly (Development Matters, 2020). These characteristics of effective 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
EYFS and the local context
A fundamental aspect of our curriculum is offering children enriching first hand experiences. We want children to experience life outside the classroom, making purposeful links, comparisons and challenging their preconceptions. We have a wildlife area on site which the children use weekly. This opportunity enables children to see, hear, feel and observe the wonders of the word in a more holistic way. The Forest School trained staff prepare real life opportunities to support children to work independently and collaboratively. We want children to appreciate their locality and take care of the world around them. At Applegarth, we believe it is important that our families feel a sense of community and belonging from their child’s first day at school. We foster this by ensuring efficient channels of communication are always open. Staff presence on the playground allows parents/carers to talk face to face with our practitioners at the beginning and end of each day as well as using digital platforms such as Seesaw, Target Tracker and the School Blog, to celebrate the achievements of the children. We have strong links to our local churches, library, fire and police stations, neighbouring schools and transport networks to widen the children’s appreciation of their local community. We take pride in our relationship with our local churches: we visit the church for Christmas, Harvest and Easter celebrations (and perform our nativity at the local Methodist Church). We offer visits to local settings including Runswick Bay, theatres and wildlife parks as a catalyst to launch a learning project or to solidifying learning.
EYFS and becoming local, national and global citizens
Our EYFS curriculum equips children with the building blocks to prepare them for being active, reflective and respectful citizens. We teach these skills through play, books, drama and purposeful focused activities. The diverse range of books and resources in our areas of provision, promote discussions on topics such as diversity, online safety, healthy eating and respectful relationships. In class, the children learn about the British value of democracy using our book voting system where they get to choose a book for story time. Other daily routines such as snack time and tidy up time offer opportunities for children to be responsible for themselves, others around them and their environment. Additionally, we incorporate various festivals and events from around the world into our learning such as Christmas, Diwali, Eid and Chinese New Year. We use the celebrations to talk about the values, beliefs and customs of different cultures and religions. We want children to have a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world beyond Northallerton. They have an awareness of world issues and a belief that anybody, no matter how small, can make a difference.
EYFS and wellbeing & happy minds
Promoting wellbeing and mindfulness is another fundamental part of our curriculum. We want our children to be emotionally strong and resilient with an inner strength to cope and deal with setbacks. Stories such as Flight School and Giraffes Can’t Dance enable our pupils to empathise with fictional characters and learn that failure is part of success. We promote a growth mind-set in our setting, where the learning process is highly valued. Spending time outside contributes to mental wellbeing and access to our outdoor provision is planned into our daily timetable, no matter the weather. Every week, children dress accordingly for Wildlife Wednesday and Forest Friday and climb, dig, build and move in a safe, natural environment. Resources such as music and art materials are added to enhance the areas of provision, allowing children to express their ideas and feelings in a creative way. Expert teachers of yoga, dance, cycling and meditation deliver sessions during curriculum time to develop gross motor skills, self-esteem and confidence. Our PSHE and RSE curriculum, which includes weekly Jigsaw lessons and daily sharing circles, is a time where children learn new skills, practise listening, communicating and build positive relationships. Our team celebrates effort, attitude and achievement in equal measure. We ensure that we set the highest expectations of all of our learners and deliver ambitious goals in a supportive environment to guarantee that our pupils master the necessary skills to prepare them for the next phase of their education.