At Skyswood, we provide an ambitious, meaningful and progressive curriculum that considers the needs and abilities of every child and enables them to become the best that they can be.
Our intention in Nursery and Reception is to equip the children with the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding for their future learning, but also for them to leave the Early Years as kind, independent and resilient individuals that have the confidence and ability to communicate effectively, problem solve, develop ideas and think creatively. By providing safe and nurturing learning environments and rich and challenging learning experiences, we fully intend for our children to develop the cultural capital they need to continue successfully on their learning journey.
What and how we teach is in direct response to the needs of the children. Within the first few weeks, staff aim to develop a thorough knowledge of the children in our care through play, conversation, observation and assessment. By establishing a clear understanding of their strengths, interests and learning styles, we can then respond accordingly by delivering a curriculum that builds sensitively and effectively upon these starting points.
In early years, we enable children to learn through a balance of child-initiated (play-based) and adult-led learning. Every day, we provide children with lots of opportunity for prolonged periods of uninterrupted play so that they can learn through exploration, discovery, rehearsal and experimentation. Great care is given to setting up our indoor and outdoor learning environments to ensure that they facilitate not just ‘what’ we would like the children to learn but ‘how’ children learn best. Resources are chosen and enhancements planned that encourage children to collaborate, persevere and problem solve whilst at the same time developing their personal and social skills. Staff are on hand to support and extend learning and are constantly alert to possibilities to implement strategies to naturally enhance outcomes for children through play.
Alongside play-based learning, adult-led sessions take place throughout the week to introduce new learning, develop vocabulary, share stories, and celebrate our achievements. We have carefully considered and planned a broad curriculum around engaging topics to introduce the children to the diverse world around them as well as secure the foundations for their learning in Year 1. Adult-led sessions are planned to be short, focused and interactive, providing further opportunity for sustained shared-thinking and collaborative working.
It is well-recognised that children benefit most from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers. All contributions from home are welcomed and valued and help us to shape our decisions about how best to support the children next. By capturing and sharing key milestones and ‘wow’ moments between home and school via the Evidence Me app, we ensure parents/carers are fully informed of where their children are in their learning and that we can support each other to secure the best outcomes for the children.
At key points of the year, children’s progress is more formally assessed and monitored. Actions are taken for vulnerable groups to ensure high levels of progress and attainment for all children, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, social/economic background or starting points.
We recognise the importance of early years experiences in developing children that are happy, independent and motivated to learn and believe that our approach, underpinned by the EYFS framework, promotes the best outcomes for our children. Staff are committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment and strong, positive relationships with every child that enhance all aspects of their development.
Learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage
Our curriculum ambitions for the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage can be found in his document:
Delivering our curriculum
All of the seven areas of learning outlined in the EYFS Framework are important and inter-connected and therefore rarely develop in isolation. However, our broader approaches to supporting the children in each area are summarised as follows:
Communication and Language
By interacting sensitively with the children, we ensure they develop the skills they need to be able to listen and attend, understand spoken language and to confidently express and share their ideas with others. We provide a language rich environment with plenty of opportunities daily for children to listen and respond to stories and rhymes, to ask and answer their own questions and engage in back-and-forth conversation with the adults and their peers. These activities are not only important life skills but are essential in broadening the children’s vocabulary which in turn has a significant impact on the successful acquisition of skills in early reading and writing.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
We support children’s personal, social and emotional development by helping them to interact effectively and develop positive attitudes to themselves and others. Children receive positive feedback and experience positive role models for behaviour. We support our children to be confident in who they are and to develop and understand their own feelings and those of other people. We teach our children to respect different views and ideas and form constructive friendships.
Our indoor and outdoor environments are planned to ensure children have plenty of opportunity to develop both their fine and gross motor skills, whether that be outside using our P.E. equipment, or inside developing their fine motor skills through a range of activities such as using playdough, construction equipment or mark making. We actively seek to help children develop their independence and will offer support to assist a child with their skills in self-care.
Skills in early reading and writing are initially developed through talk and regular sharing of carefully chosen books, poems and rhymes. Our aim is to instil a love of books and stories even before the children begin to learn to read by selecting and sharing quality literature that produces a strong emotional response from the children. Books are promoted through daily story times and frequently re-read multiple times so that the children develop a deep familiarity with the stories, vocabulary and language patterns and are then keen to re-tell or re-enact them for themselves. Similarly, songs, rhymes and poems are taught to alert the children to rhyme, alliteration and sounds within words, important precursors to the learning of phonics.
At Skyswood, we follow the Read Write Inc scheme for the teaching of phonics, underpinned in Nursery by Phase 1 from Letters and Sounds. In Reception, we teach phonemes and their corresponding graphemes at a rapid pace that allows the children to begin blending and segmenting sounds for reading and writing at an early stage. Reading practice is prioritised to ensure all children can rehearse their skills in decoding alongside the teaching sequence and additional practice is given to those who would benefit from some extra support.
Although Read Write Inc also equips the children with the necessary skills for early writing, we feel strongly that children are best motivated to write when given a clear purpose. In Reception we therefore teach a literacy lesson each week in addition to daily phonics sessions that encourages the children to express their own ideas without the constraints of their phonic knowledge to-date. Children are encouraged to give their ideas orally and we will either scribe for them or, when ready, encourage the children to record by writing down the sounds they can hear. At this point, they quickly become empowered as writers when they realise their phonetic attempts can be read by others.
Suggestions or enhancements that promote independent mark-making and writing also feature prominently across indoor and outdoor provision in both Nursery and Reception during child-initiated learning for children to practice and rehearse their skills.
Concepts and skills in maths mastery are taught in adult-led sessions and rehearsed through small group activities and play. Adult-led sessions are short, engaging and carefully planned to ensure maths concepts are taught using practical resources and relate where possible to real life experiences. The environment is continually enhanced following teaching to promote and rehearse mathematical concepts such as counting, sorting, measuring, comparing quantities and pattern recognition.
Understanding the World
In response to the revised Early Years Framework, we have planned a series of learning themes across the year that align with the Development Matters 2020 document and reflect our school’s culture, community, and locality wherever possible. Children develop an understanding of their immediate environment and the roles of the people within it whilst also looking at how it has changed over time. To bring this information to life, we make the most of our outdoor areas by looking at the impact of seasonal changes throughout the year and observing plants and wildlife. We also go on trips locally and invite visitors into school to share their experiences with us first-hand.
Through the breadth of these topics, our children begin to develop a sense of the wider world. We look at some of the similarities and differences in landscape, lifestyles and cultures in different countries as well as the impact of some of historical figures that we remember and recognise for their adventures, escapades or achievements.
Expressive Arts and Design
There are creative workshop areas in both the Nursery and Reception classrooms and children are free to access the resources independently. They are given time to work on their own creations and adults will work alongside teaching or introducing new skills where needed. Adult-led sessions throughout the year introduce children to new media and techniques such as watercolours or collage which are then made available for them to explore further in Choosing-to-Learn time.
Imaginative play is encouraged across the provision as a means for self-expression, creativity, practicing and using newly introduced vocabulary and fun! Children allowing us into their worlds through conversation and role-play is a privilege but also provides insight and opportunity to further support children across all areas of learning.
Children with Special Educational Needs.
‘All children and young people are entitled to an education that is appropriate to their needs, promotes high standards and the fulfilment of potential’ (SEND Code of Practice 2014).
At Skyswood School we are committed to promoting the inclusion of all children whatever their age, ability, gender, race or background and aim to meet the learning and pastoral needs of every child. Educational experiences are provided which develop pupils’ achievements and recognise their individuality. We value the importance of working in partnership with parents and draw upon the advice of external agencies to provide the best support for children with SEN.