At St John’s, our curriculum is designed and tailored to equip our children with the skills they need to develop into independent and inquisitive learners.
We aim to provide motivating first-hand experiences whilst encouraging children to build resilience, ambition, and a lifelong love of learning. We aim to build on the wealth of knowledge and skills children already have when they arrive. We recognise that all children are unique, celebrating, and welcoming differences within our school community. We take a child-centred approach to learning, enhancing the students learning experience. At St John’s Highbury Vale, we use the Early Years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework (2021) as a basis to build our curriculum upon. We understand that children learn best when they are absorbed, interested and active. We understand that active learning involves other children, adults, objects, ideas, stimuli, and events that aim to engage and involve children for sustained periods. We believe that Early Years education should be as practical as possible and therefore, our setting has an underlying ethos of ‘Learning through play. Play is essential for children’s development across all areas. Play builds on children’s confidence as they learn to explore, to relate to others around them and develop relationships, set their own goals, and solve problems. Children learn by leading their own play and by taking part in play which is guided by adults. To make our curriculum specific to the needs of our youngest children at St John’s we have based our curriculum around the needs of the children in our school. We have identified key areas that we feel our children need to be able to access so that by the time they leave Reception they will have reached their full potential and developed their cultural capital. Our curriculum is a working document and as such needs to be fluid and easily adapted according to the children who attend our school at any one time. We embed a language of learning based on the characteristics of effective learning. We work in partnership with parents/carers to provide the best possible start at St John’s Highbury Vale, ensuring each individual reaches their full potential from their various starting points. By the end of the Reception year, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their starting points are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into Year 1.
We aim to:
Children in reception classes follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). The Department for Education has published the updated Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework for 2021.The new statutory framework applies from 1 September 2021.
This is made up of four overriding principles which our early year’s education is based upon:
Children benefit from meaningful learning across the curriculum and staff plan resourcefully for opportunities for communication, sustained shared thinking and physical challenge to build on existing skills taking into account the Characteristics of Effective Learning. These are:
The EYFS curriculum has 7 areas of learning:
The children learn through a play-based curriculum which is planned from the needs and interests of the children. Children are observed on a regular basis to assess their learning and next steps in learning are planned accordingly. The timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching in English, maths and phonics everyday with regular circle time sessions to focus on PSED, RE and Understanding of the World. These sessions are followed by group work where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets. This focused group time means the teacher can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning. Staff divide their time between delivering planned adult led small group activities, planned large group activities, supporting child-initiated play, making observations and moving children’s learning forward. Children are encouraged to be active learners, to think critically and creatively and to develop independence. Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ and ‘independent learning’ 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. Outdoor learning is central to the curriculum and children have access to the outdoor area for most of the day. We also have Forest School one afternoon a week to boost confidence, social skills, communication, motivation, physical skills, knowledge and understanding.
Children follow the rigorous and highly successful Read, Write Inc program faithfully so that they meet good outcomes for reading. We follow the Maths Mastery approach in Reception, using White Rose to support planning in the provision, 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.
The impact of the EYFS curriculum is reflected in having well rounded, happy and confident children transitioning into Year 1. Our children are often confident, caring children, who amazing role models for others in school. We measure progress and children’s learning across the year through formative and summative assessments which are based on the teacher’s knowledge of the child, photographs, and videos recorded on Tapestry. Almost all our children make more than the expected steps progress from their starting points.
The judgements of our school are moderated with other schools in the borough through core group meetings that happen once a term. This means judgements are secure and consistent with government guidelines.
The teaching and pedagogy are reviewed and evaluated regularly through team meetings. We ensure that the areas we discuss and develop are reflected in changes and developments in our classroom practice.
The Early Years provision features in all areas of the School Development Plan and has a rigorous plan for development each year. This is monitored and evaluated by the Senior Leadership Team and the governing body.
What to expect in the Early Years Foundation Stage: a guide for parents (https://foundationyears.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/What-to-expect-in-the-EYFS-complete-FINAL-16.09-compressed.pdf)
Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage: Setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974907/EYFS_framework_-_March_2021.pdf)