At South Borough Primary School we place great value on the development of children as individuals and providing them with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to prepare them for the challenges in Key Stage One and beyond. Our aim in the EYFS is to build strong foundations rooted in academic success as well as moral and spiritual development, so that ultimately our pupils can be successful in education and go on to be active citizens of society and happy, curious life-long learners. Our curriculum is therefore the ‘cultural capital' we know our pupils need so that they can gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. They can only do that if we embed the right habits for learning through the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning – Play and Exploration, Active Learning and Creative and Critical Thinking.
Many of our pupils arrive well below national expectations for their age and a high proportion come from disadvantaged backgrounds and with complex needs. We have to teach them how to listen, speak and meet the high expectations for behaviour by working together and being kind. As such, we prioritise personal, social and emotional development and communication and language in the Nursery curriculum. Our enabling environments and caring, skilful adult interactions, support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and explorations. As the pupils move into Reception, we invest time and energy into helping pupils set and reflect on their own goals by aiming high and developing a love of reading, writing and number. This is delivered through a holistic curriculum which maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking following children’s interests and ideas. We value imagination and creativity and seek to create a sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning through a vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision, alongside trips and visits.
Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have rigorous directed teaching in maths and phonics every day with regular circle time sessions to focus on personal, social and emotional development. There are opportunities for small group work where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets. Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision.
The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas.The curriculum is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development including understanding the world and expressive art and design as well as to promote sustained thinking and active learning. Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Children follow the rigorous and highly successful Read, Write Inc programme so that they meet good outcomes for reading with almost all children passing the Year One phonics screening.
We follow the Maths Mastery approach in Reception with an emphasis on studying key skills of number, calculation and shape so that pupils develop deep understanding and the acquisition of mathematical language. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives which are then rehearsed and applied to their own learning during exploration. Nursery pupils begin to develop these key skills during daily maths sessions where they explore sorting, quantities, shape, number and counting awareness. These early mathematical experiences are carefully designed to help pupils remember the content they have been taught and to support them with integrating their new knowledge across the breadth of their experiences and into larger concepts.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be reaching their potential or moving on children who are doing very well. This includes, for example, Neli; our nurture group with some of our vulnerable children or additional ‘support’ provision in Maths. At South Borough, staff also do ‘on the spot’ interventions, focusing on sight words, blending and number retention with target individuals.
The characteristics of effective learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations of children. Our regular monitoring of teaching and learning includes coaching and feedback from the phase leader, so that teachers develop a good subject knowledge and are effectively supported. We tailor our staff PD to be early years specific and are focused on moderating outcomes across the phase so that every member of our team feels confident in making accurate judgements about where individual pupils are and their next steps for learning. This is alongside regular meetings with our Senco who helps to build subject knowledge of working with children who have special needs, additional needs and or communication and language difficulties.