At the Whinless Down Academy, the Early Years curriculum is designed to provide first hand experiences which fully engage learning, in order to create independent and inquisitive learners and build resilience and ambition. We work collaboratively with parents and other settings and professionals to provide the best possible start to school life, building on the children’s prior knowledge. We place great value on the development of children as individuals and providing them with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to become curious lifelong learners. They can only do this through our ability to embed the learning habits of the Characteristics of Effective Learning, alongside the school values.
Our enabling environment and warm, skilful adult interactions take into consideration the children’s starting points, building on prior learning and maximising every learning experience. We seek to create a sense of fascination and enjoyment in learning through high quality continuous provision, both inside and outside, offering uninterrupted play and sustained thinking.
Clear expectations of teaching and learning are set out in the Whinless Down Academy EYFS Teaching and Learning Policy. The children learn through a carefully constructed balance between child initiated and adult directed teaching and learning. Children are given considerable time to explore the well planned and challenging continuous and enhanced learning opportunities. These opportunities are scaffolded and extended by the skilful adults, who know the children’s individual next steps. A stimulating enabling environment is at the centre of EYFS practice.
In Year R, rigorous whole class teaching of maths, reading and phonics also happens daily. Adult directed teaching also takes place in small groups, allowing for focussed individualised learning. This allows staff to systematically check for knowledge, skills and understanding; identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback.
The curriculum is planned, in line with the requirements of the EYFS Statutory Framework 2021 and Development Matters 2021, within broad topics, but with the flexibility to follow the children’s interests and foster independence. Coverage across all 7 areas of development, both prime and specific, ensures a range of learning that deepens children’s knowledge, skills and understanding. In order to aid the early development of our children, we strongly believe that they should focus on the three prime areas first. As children grow and progress, the prime areas will support them to develop skills in the four specific areas. Our topics are child-centred, based on providing our pupils with real life experiences which are motivating. Staff ensure learning is by design, with a clear rationale, linked to the children’s next steps in learning.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Children have daily phonics teaching, including in the nursery. We have just started following the fully validated phonics scheme Little Wandle Letters and Sounds. Children have access to books which are full decodable, in line with the phonics teaching they have received. Opportunities for children to read and re-tell stories and foster a love of reading are given at every opportunity.
At the end of EYFS, our Whinless Down Academy children:
- Are ready for the next stage in school life, with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to fully participate in Key Stage 1.
- Most children will have met the Early Learning Goals, making good progress from baseline.
- Understand and can demonstrate some of the school values – determination, collaboration, responsibility, positivity and respect.
- Are independent and inquisitive learners.
- Show understanding of early mathematical concepts in line with their age and stage of development.
- Have a good phonic knowledge; reading a range of words, tricky words and simple sentences.
- Demonstrate the Characteristics of Effective Learning.
- Have developed better communication skills, both verbally and written.