Children are provided with a broad and balanced curriculum for both inside and outside, that is defined in the seven areas of learning identified in the Early Learning Goals and which offers continuity with the National Curriculum.
The curriculum is organised into three Prime Areas
• Communication and Language which includes listening and attention, understanding and speaking
• Physical Development which includes moving and handling, health and self care
• Personal, Social and Emotional Development which includes self-confidence and self awareness, managing feelings and behaviour and making relationships and understanding others
And four Specific Areas
•Literacy which includes Reading and writing
•Mathematics which includes understanding about Numbers and Shape, space and measures
•Understanding the World which includes finding out about people and communities, the world and technology
•Expressive Arts and Design which includes exploring and using media and materials (responding to experiences, expressing and communicating ideas) and being imaginative (creating music and dance and developing imagination and imaginative play)
We focus strongly on the three prime areas which are the basis for successful learning in the other four specific areas. This balance will shift towards a more equal focus on all areas of learning as children grow in confidence and ability within the three prime areas.
There is a balance of child-led and adult-led activities. As children grow older and as their development allows, the balance will shift towards more activities led by adults. The curriculum is arranged so that children may achieve the Early Learning Goals which set expectations for the end of the Foundation Stage and are described in the "Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage September 2014.” Teachers will use a best fit approach to say whether children’ development is “emerging”, “expected” or “exceeding” against the descriptors for each goal. The curriculum is not compartmentalized into separate areas but all areas are covered nevertheless. Experiences are topic based which presents the curriculum as a coherent and integrated whole. Our practice is built on the three characteristics of learning and the four identified themes that support the development, learning and care of young children.
The characteristics of learning are interlinked. They are:
* playing and exploring
* active learning
* creating and thinking critically
The end of year profile includes a short description of children’s skills and abilities with regard to these three characteristics of learning.
The four themes are A Unique child which centres on child development, inclusive practice, keeping safe and health and well-being, Positive Relationships which centres on respecting each other, parent partnership, supporting learning and the importance of the key person working with approach to say whether at the end of Reception the child’s learning is “children , Enabling Environments which centres on observation, assessment and planning, supporting every child, the learning environment and the wider context of the community, Learning and Development which centres on play and exploration, active learning, creativity and critical thinking and areas of learning and development.
Our planning focus on the “Developmental Stages” that show the knowledge, skills and understanding and attitudes that children are required to learn. When children’s learning extend beyond the Learning Goals, they are provided with a curriculum that will further extend their knowledge, understanding and skills.
Children participate in language/literacy activities and mathematical activities through child initiated learning and through adult led activities, in both our indoor and outdoor learning environments. Children have access to a range of resources and equipment which allows the children to follow their own lines of enquiry as well as to develop their understanding further following input from an adult.
A variety of good quality books, including those from our reading scheme: Oxford Reading Tree, are used for the introduction of reading. It is our intention that children find the fun and “release” that books offer. Children start with wordless or picture books to encourage storytelling and to develop rich language; as the children learn letter sounds and sight vocabulary, they progress onto books which introduce the sounds in the order that they are taught. “Letters and Sounds” is the phonics scheme that we use across Hilltop Infant School, and we use this to teach and support children in using their knowledge of letter sounds and building their sight vocabulary.
Because teaching staff plan learning opportunities in response to the children’s needs and interests, we use Topic Webs to help map out possible activities half termly and then produce more detailed planning every two weeks. The Topic Webs for each half term can be accessed here or via “Our Hilltop”.