The Foundation Stage
Children in Nursery (FS1) and Reception (FS2) access the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. They engage in learning through first hand experiences that foster investigation and enquiry. The Early Years curriculum is made up of 7 areas of learning; 3 prime and 4 specific.
The prime areas of the EYFS are: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development is vital in the Foundation Stage. Through every day learning, we support the children in making strong relationships with their peers and familiar adults and encourage them to become confident and independent young people. At all times, adults support and model appropriate behaviour to promote positive relationships within the classroom; this is in reinforced during circle times and small group activities. The children are encouraged to recognise and celebrate personal achievements, however small, and those of their peers. Each class has a reward system in place that celebrates the small but significant steps along a child’s personal foundation stage journey.
To promote a rich and varied vocabulary, we provide a language rich environment, which gives opportunities for children to experience new and imaginative vocabulary. We plan specific activities to upscale the children’s vocabulary which is illustrated daily in Talk for Writing, book sharing, role-play, child initiated activities and when using the outdoor area. Specifically in F1 the children have daily opportunities to expand their language through the use of ‘talking pictures,’ which encourages them to talk in whole sentences and use new and exciting words.
To further deepen the understanding of children’s learning, staff in Foundation stage are encouraged to use questioning to allow children to talk about their experiences. The use of questioning also encourage children to use a wider range of vocabulary to form longer, more complex sentences. Where children have limited vocabulary and struggle to answer questions, adults will scaffold appropriate responses to allow all children to respond.
Physical Development, is a fundamentally important skill which underpins all aspects of children’s early experiences. If children learn to move with control and coordination; to balance and climb; to move with agility and self-expression they are likely to be more successful learners throughout their school lives. When you come into EYFS, don’t be surprised if you are asked to join in with our daily fine motor sessions, or asked to ‘Squiggle while you wiggle!’ Children in F2 also have twice-weekly focused fine motor tasks in small groups before focused writing.
Our recently developed outdoor area gives the children opportunities to climb, balance, hang and manoeuvre in and out of equipment. Nursery children have a timetabled ‘wheeled’ session where they develop skills on scooters/ bikes/ balance bikes to promote gross motor development; daily motor skills sessions and weekly ‘ Write from the Start’ early writing development. Reception children also have ‘cycle skills’ training from Active Fusion in addition to a weekly PE session.
The specific areas of the EYFS are: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design
The children in F1 have a ‘rhyme and story rich’ environment, to allow them access to story structure and playing with rhyme. They are introduced to the RWI pictures, along with the pure sounds, and finally the letter shapes and RWI rhymes. We have introduced a weekly ‘Imagination Library’ session into F1 where parents are supported in ways to help their child with early reading skills and to promote a love of books.
Children in F2 access daily Read Write Inc. sessions where they learn to articulate pure letter sounds through a range of multisensory activities.
As the year progresses, children move on to reading ditties and trickier Read Write Inc. stories. Children use and apply their phonic skills when accessing continuous provision through reading labels, captions, instructions and other text in the environment.
Children if F1 are supported in developing ‘pre-writing’ skills by exercising and strengthening their fingers in activities including cutting and sticking, pouring, manipulating playdough, using tweezers etc.
Mark making is the next step towards successful early writing. Children are encouraged to use a variety of different writing materials on a variety of scales. This could be writing on a post it note or making gigantic marks on the playground; it could be using brushes or magic wands.
The importance of this mark making practice is to embed fluent movement which will eventually lead to forming recognisable letters. In addition to this daily practice, the children participate in Talk for Writing and Helicopter stories and purposeful writing in each learning environment.
By the end of the Foundation Stage, many children can write short, simple sentences independently and read simple words and sentences.
Early maths is taught through games, song and exploration. In F1 we concentrate on the language of maths through child initiated play, simple challenges, questioning and stories. In addition, we deliver a daily maths session to consolidate and extend learning concepts.
In F2, we build on the children’s early experiences through a mastery approach to maths, which encourages children to use manipulative resources, like cubes and counters, to solve a range of problems. We ensure that children are fluent with: counting, ordering, adding and subtracting, doubling, halving and sharing before we challenge them to use their reasoning and problem-solving skills. Children also explore 2d and 3d shapes, measuring equipment and start to use the language for a range of mathematical concepts like time and money. We also take part in daily maths of the day. This year, we will be holding ‘maths through story’ sessions for parents/carers.
Understanding the World
In Understanding the World, children are encouraged to be curious and explore natural materials and learn about living things and compare different places. Our topics are chosen carefully to exploit the children’s own experiences which are vast and varied. They learn about technology, using computers and programmable toys and the wider application of technology in everyday life. Moreover, they learn about people and communities; how they are different or similar to their friends and they learn about and celebrate other cultures. Children in Foundation have access to ‘Bible Explorer’ sessions to introduce and explore Christian Values and ideas. Children in F2 also have weekly ‘science talk’ sessions.
Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)
EAD is a fundamental area to develop in Early Years as it gives the children the foundations to underpin their own identity and enables them to develop self-expression and self-confidence.
This year we are going to introduce ‘BIG ART’’. This will give the children the opportunity to create art on a large scale which will allow further development of the vital core gross and motor skills.
Children are given the opportunity to use their skills imaginatively in Expressive Arts and Design. They are given the opportunity to explore and use media and materials such as paint, clay and construction equipment. Children are also encouraged to be imaginative in areas such as role-play, art and dance. In EYFS, we also learn about different artists and create our own interpretation of their work. Both classes enjoy taking part in a weekly ‘Music Makers’ session which explores rhyme, rhythm and patterns.
Children in the Foundation Stage engage in high quality learning experiences both indoors and outdoors. Their learning and progress is tracked through observations, photographs and videos on the online learning journey, Tapestry.
See our class pages to find out more about the daily routine for F1 and F2.
Key Stage 1 and 2
At Crookesbroom Primary Academy, the core skills are taught every morning with a separate reading, writing and maths lesson each day (see sections on Talk for Writing, Reading and Same day Intervention). Cross-curricular links are developed and utilised where appropriate.
Learning is planned around topic themes (6 in KS1 and 3 in KS2) which have been chosen with the children’s interests in mind and planned to ensure the relevant knowledge and national curriculum skills are covered. Each topic is planned to engage and stimulate the children’s curiosity and interests through a variety of activities where they learn and apply new skills. The curriculum is enriched through visits and visitors.
The academy delivers foundation subjects through a child–led approach. We strongly believe that this approach enables pupils to be masters of their own learning and provides them with the opportunity to develop into life-long independent learners. Teachers exploit and encourage opportunities for cross-curricular and intra-curricular links to deepen the children’s understanding of what they are learning. Although this is still relatively new to Crookesbroom, we are very excited about the potential for providing opportunities for mastery across all areas of the curriculum and learning which is led by the children. This will involve whole-class input, followed by small-group work activities in KS1 with the children choosing how they undertake activities in KS2. Teachers carefully observe and guide pupils to ensure that they experience the full range of learning opportunities.
During afternoons, history, geography, art, design technology and computing are taught in a carousel of activities. Depending on topics, staff decide which subjects are most suitable for each half term: history or geography; art or design and technology. In this way, pupils are able to master concepts in greater depth. Once computing skills are taught, programming can be part of the carousel. IPads and laptops can also be used for topic research. By the end of a half term, each child will have at least one substantial piece of work for history or geography; art or design and technology and a computing element. To emphasise the subject-specific skills that the children are learning, we refer to them being geographers or historians, etc.
Crookesbroom Big 10 Skills
The Big 10 are key skills, including: positive attitude, imagination, reflecting and evaluating, problem solving, communication, keep trying, taking a risk, working independently, teamwork and planning and organisation. They are embedded through the curriculum. Pupils develop their ability to reflect critically on the range of skills they have used in their learning at any given time. We believe that these skills are fundamental to pupils as learners and in preparation for the challenges they will face as the next generation of adults.