Early Years Foundation Stage
Alexandra Primary School Early Years Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact
At Alexandra Primary School our aim is to provide a learning environment which enables all children to achieve their full potential regardless of background, circumstances or need. We aim to improve outcomes for all children and help close the gap for disadvantaged children. We believe that language is the foundation of children’s thinking and learning. It is our intent to develop the whole child and enable all pupils to start their lifelong school journey by developing physically, verbally, cognitively and emotionally while embedding a positive attitude to school and a love of learning.
Development Matters outlines seven key features of effective practice which underpin our broad and balanced curriculum at Alexandra Primary School:
- The best for every child
We believe that all children deserve to have an equal chance of success and high quality education is good for all children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. High quality education is inclusive at Alexandra, with children’s special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) being identified quickly, to ensure all pupils can progress well in their learning.
- High quality care
At Alexandra, the child’s experience is always central to the thinking of every practitioner. We know that our pupils thrive when they are well cared for. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with the children and work with our pupils to create a happy, safe learning environment for all.
- A broad and balanced curriculum
At Alexandra, we have worked hard to provide an exciting, broad and balanced curriculum that mparts lasting knowledge for all our children and is driven by their interests. At the heart of our curriculum are our four key principles, which underpin our ethos for teaching and learning and build on our school values of Nurture, Exploration, Excellence and Community. The curriculum drivers are:
Rooted in Knowledge
At Alexandra, our pupils access a knowledge rich curriculum, ensuring they develop the skills and learning behaviours to become lifelong learners. Knowledge is consolidated and built upon with pupils expected to recall and retain their learning across the curriculum.
Sequential and Progressive
Our curriculum is ambitious for all pupils. Careful sequencing helps children to build their learning over time and the development of language skills is central to our curriculum. We know that depth in early learning is important and we allow for this in our curriculum.
Equitable, diverse and inclusive
Young children’s learning is often driven by their interests and planning can be flexible to allow for this.
At Alexandra, we are committed to ensuring that all children feel connected to and invested in the school curriculum. This is achieved by ensuring that pupils, independent of their needs, have equal opportunities to access and engage with their learning. Lessons are designed to
reflect our inclusive curriculum with equality, equity, diversity and representation at the heart of our teaching and learning arrangements. A central thread of this is our status as a Right Respecting School.
Enriched by experiences
Our curriculum deepens and extends learning through rich, memorable experiences. We take advantage of our proximity to Richmond Park and invite specialists and experts into our school to lead workshops.
We know that our children are powerful learners and truly believe that every child can make progress in their learning, with the right help. Effective pedagogy at Alexandra follows a mix of approaches, including: learning through play, adult modelling, observing peers, guided learning and direct teaching. Expert practitioners carefully organise enabling environments for high-quality play. They make time and space available for children to invent their own play and join in to sensitively support and extend children’s learning.
Assessment in EYFS is about noticing what children can do and what they know. Practitioners at Alexandra understand child development and can confidently articulate what they want children to know and do. This allows assessment to be effective and does not mean adults are away from the children for long periods of time. Parents and carers are kept up-to-date on their child’s progress and development. Assessment informs an ongoing dialogue between practitioners and year 1 teachers about each child’s learning and development, to support a successful transition to KS1. In Reception there are two statutory assessments; the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) taken in the first six weeks of a child’s schooling and the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) taken in the final term.
- Self-regulation and executive function
At Alexandra, we know that executive function includes the child’s ability to: hold information in mind, focus their attention, think flexibly, inhibit impulsive behaviour. These abilities contribute to the child’s growing ability to self-regulate. We believe that language development is central to self-regulation: children use language to guide their actions and plans. The many opportunities for pretend play at Alexandra gives many opportunities for children to focus their thinking, persist and plan ahead.
- Partnership with parents
At Alexandra, we value strong and respectful parent partnerships and know these are key for children to thrive in the early years. We listen regularly to parents and give clear indications of their child’s progress. We encourage parents to play, chat and read with their children and provide weekly home learning prompts to facilitate this. We also upload weekly blogs to provide parents with information on what their children are learning and hold termly parents’ evenings.
The curriculum at Alexandra provides a play based and experiential learning environment, with focussed teaching and learning that ensures children make rapid progress before moving onto KS1. The pupils across EYFS are provided with ample opportunities to access the enriching indoor and outdoor provision. The learning experiences within our Early Years setting are linked to the seven areas of learning, outlined in the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage. Prime areas include:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
We provide our pupils with opportunities to be active and interactive; and to develop their coordination, control and movement. We help children to understand the importance of physical activity, personal hygiene and making healthy choices in relation to food
- Communication and Language
We provide children with opportunities to experience a rich language environment, develop their confidence in expressing their viewpoint and to speak and listen to others
- Physical Development
We enable all children to develop the skills to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, coordination and positional awareness through tummy time and play movement with both objects and adults. By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, coordination and agility.
As children grow and make progress in the prime areas, they will naturally develop skills within the four specific areas:
We believe that it is crucial for our pupils to develop a life-long love of reading. We create time to enjoy a variety of diverse, high quality stories, poems and rhymes throughout the school day. We develop pupils’ language comprehension by talking to them about the world around them and the stories we read. We develop word reading through our validated Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds SSP Programme. This includes the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) from Reception and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Early writing at Alexandra involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
We believe that a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. By the end of Reception, children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. We provide frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting. Children at Alexandra develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. We provide rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. We develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics and are not afraid to make ‘marvellous mistakes’.
- Understanding the World
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. We provide opportunities for children to create personal experiences that allow them to make sense of the world around them including visiting Richmond Park and inviting specialist visitors into school. Our reading spine plans for a range of stories, non-fiction texts, rhymes and poems that foster an understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world.
- Expressive Arts and Design
The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. Children at Alexandra have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials.
At Alexandra our pupils benefit from meaningful learning across the curriculum and staff plan resourcefully for opportunities for communication and sustained shared thinking to build on and progress characteristics of effective learning.
We believe our curriculum enables all children to become confident lifelong learners and good citizens.
The pupils at Alexandra Primary School experience a smooth transition between Nursery, Reception and beyond. High quality teaching and rich opportunities ensure that children leave our EYFS with a solid foundation to learning.
We use Tapestry, an online learning journal, across Nursery and Reception, supplemented with Literacy exercise books in the latter stages of YR. This allows for evidence to be shared with parents and carers and documents the successes of pupils throughout their time in the EYFS.
As a team, we carry out regular internal moderation sessions and ensure our staff attend external meetings and CPD to ensure a team of expert practitioners across EYFS.
Assessment starts with careful observations, which are used to inform planning and progress children from all starting points. By monitoring assessment procedures regularly, we can effectively demonstrate what learning is taking place and how each child is progressing across the seven areas of learning.
Please visit the following links that parents may find useful: