""Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write and count. It is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child."
Magda Gerber (Pioneer for Early Years).
At Colgate Primary our curriculum is based on the framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. It states that the seven areas of learning and development “must be implemented through planned, purposeful play”. In addition to this the framework says that “Practitioners must respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction.” The EYFS framework also describes the “Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning ... playing and exploring ... active learning and creating and thinking critically.” This approach to teaching and learning underpins all that we do in Apple Class and our children's wellbeing is at the heart of our curriculum. Our four school values of Leadership, Inclusion, Caring and Communication are woven through our daily practice and are modelled by both the staff and our children.
The seven areas of learning are:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
The first 3 of these areas are known as the Prime areas and these are vital to learning and development across all other areas of the Early Years curriculum and beyond.
We believe that all our children are unique and should be treated as so. We know that children learn best when they feel safe, confident and well supported. Our aim is provide a happy, secure and stimulating environment in which our children flourish and develop as individuals. We provide learning experiences that spark their curiosity and develop a love of learning.
We support our children with being able to self-regulate through co-regulation and by building trusting relationships with our pupils where we can work with them to solve problems together. This was described as one of our strengths in our most recent Ofsted report (2017):
"Strong relationships throughout the early years contribute well to children's sense of security and to their learning. Parents say that they are very happy with their children's progress".
We provide a language rich environment through a diverse range of texts and meaningful conversations to support children with their speaking, listening and understanding. Our children develop confidence, resilience and independence through child led learning and we provide a free flow environment where our children can create, explore and challenge themselves both indoors and outdoors. We have an inclusive approach to learning, and we challenge and support all of our learners, wherever their starting points may be. We believe that children develop at their own rate and will make progress when they are ready.
Apple Class is a mixed aged class with both Reception and Year 1 children. Although the Reception children mainly follow their own interests, they still have opportunities to access some of the learning linked to the overarching themes that drive the Year 1 curriculum. Reception and Year 1 are taught separately for both Phonics and Maths.
At the end of the Reception year, there are 17 Early Learning Goals (ELGs) that children are assessed against. For those children who meet their ELG's, their progress is 'expected' and for those who don't quite meet them, their progress is 'emerging'. Children who do not meet all of the ELGs are supported within Year 1 to consolidate any gaps they may have before moving onto Year 1 learning. We believe that it is important that our Year One curriculum is ready for our children, not that our children are ready for Year One.
In addition to this, we use our observations and interactions to note the children's interests and progress and we use this to plan purposeful activities. Learning is individualised and we plan for next steps so that all children can achieve and make progress.
We work closely with our parents and carers to build positive partnerships so that our children make the very best start to their school journey. Communication is key and we really value the relationships with parents that we build throughout the year.
New parents are invited to a welcome meeting during the summer term and the children are given the opportunity to attend up to 3 stay and play sessions where they meet the team and have time to become familiar with their new surroundings and new friends! We also make home visits towards the end of the summer so that we can meet with each family in relaxed surroundings and a member of the team will visit each new child in their current setting to talk with their key worker. It is really important to us to begin building these relationships before our children start their first day at school with us. We know that each of our children will join us with very different nursery and pre-school experiences and that some of the younger children may not be ready for full time education straight away. We work with parents to decide when Spring or Summer born children are ready to attend full time in the Autumn term and this allows our children the opportunity to settle in slowly and at their own pace.
Learning is captured on an electronic journal called SeeSaw. Parents are given access to this once the children have been in school for 3 weeks or so. After this, parents are free to access their child's journal at any time and they are encouraged to add their own comments, photos and videos. It is crucial that the Apple Class team have an insight into a child's world outside of school so that we can truly meet their needs. We use SeeSaw to regularly communicate with our parents. This can be to celebrate achievement, to inform parents of their child's next steps or to share concerns. Together we 'weave' the learning journey of the child and celebrate their progress and development.
We use a phonic scheme called 'Song of Sounds.' This scheme quickly exposes the children to a larger number of sounds than previously taught and will therefore have a greater impact on reading and writing skills. Please see the link below to the song that we all sing to help the children learn phonics.
Below you will find a selection of photographs that capture the way we learn in Apple Class.
We look forward to working with you and your child!