Knock Class - Reception
At St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, we place great value on the development of children’s emotional intelligence. We provide them with life skills such as resilience and empathy in order for them to be well prepared for the challenges they may face in Key Stage One and beyond. Our aim in the EYFS is to build strong foundations in communication and language as well as a life-long love of learning so that ultimately our children will experience success in university, be contributing members of society and be happy and curious learners.
Our curriculum is therefore designed to be highly literate and rich in language skills where they develop a love of reading. This ensures that the children in our care have a strong cultural capital to gain the knowledge, skills and understanding required for success. By embedding the Characteristics of Effective Learning, the children are passionate, creative and critical thinkers in all that they do.
Throughout our EYFS unit, we provide ample opportunities for children to develop their speaking and listening skills as well as setting high expectations for behaviour so that children are able to build strong relationships with their peers and adults they work with. We actively support their curious nature and allow children to explore the world around them through play in Nursery. Our enabling environment allows for warm, knowledgeable interactions that encourages children to make mistakes and explore further options. As they move into reception, we set high expectations on their reading, writing and maths goals ensuring that they meet end of year outcomes and are well prepared for Year 1. Our curriculum is a built around story-telling and encourages the children to make cross-curricular connections in order for their learning to be embedded and extended in their play. We value children’s enthusiasm and creativity and set out to make their learning experience the best that it can be through high quality teaching across the indoor and outdoor environments.
Pupils learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed one-to-one and small group teaching in English, maths and phonics every day. These sessions are followed by activities that are organised to support the children’s learning through play. The children work in pairs, groups or one-to-one with an adult that encourages them to explore their new knowledge. This play allows our staff to check their understanding and address any misconceptions. This results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.
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 continuous 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 and story-telling is at the heart of our curriculum. Children follow a well-developed and rigorous phonics program so that they meet good outcomes for reading at the end of Early Years. Alongside our phonics teaching, we develop the children’s understanding of characters and stories so that they are able to discuss emotions and events. Through this, children are able to compare stories and make connections as well as develop a strong bank of vocabulary. They are able to use this knowledge and understanding which helps them become creative writers.
We follow the Little Big Mats approach across all Early Years 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 objects and materials which are then rehearsed and applied to their own learning during exploration. Nursery pupils begin to develop these key skills by exploring through play and 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.
We are fortunate to be a small school community which allows for greater adult interactions with the children. Because of this, we are able to provide on the spot and regular interventions throughout the day in order to best support the needs of our children. Our staff are well trained and extremely knowledgeable about Early Years which ensures that they are able to provide the best interventions and support necessary for all children’s individual needs.
Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND, so we spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning. This is achieved through talking to children, looking at their work, observing their learning experiences and analysing data and progress by year group, class, groups and individuals. Our Early Years staff are trained in the new Early Years Curriculum and use ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress. Our team use Tapestry to record observations against the framework and record the data using FFT to compare against national expectations. We use this information to plan learning experiences and next steps so that skills are being built upon and progress is being made. We collect weekly observations and formerly assess the children three times a year in order to update progress. Evidence is gathered through observations, work samples, videos and photographs which are collated in their online journals on Tapestry.
Our curriculum and its delivery ensure that children make good progress. During their time in our EYFS, children make good progress so that we meet the national expectation for GLD at the end of the year. Pupils also make good progress toward their age-related expectations before transitioning into Year One. We believe our high standards are due to the enriched play-based exploration alongside the rigour of assessment and teaching the children have as they move through the early years – a rich diet of balanced learning experiences is undoubtedly the best way to develop happy, curious children.