The Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a comprehensive statutory framework that sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five in England.
Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support to fulfil their potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right, and it provides the foundation for children to make the most of their talents as they grow. The framework is based on four Themes and Principles. It recognises children as individuals and competent learners:
- A unique child
- Positive relationships
- Enabling environments
- Learning and development
The EYFS is delivered through a well planned, play based approach to learning and development. The activities that are provided for young children will underpin the skills they need to work towards the scale points in the following areas at the end of their reception year at school.
Personal, social and emotional development
Children are provided with experiences and support which will help them to develop a positive sense of themselves and of others; respect for others; social skills; and a disposition to learn.
Communication, language and literacy
Children’s learning and competence in communicating, speaking and listening, being read to and beginning to read and write is supported. We provide opportunities and encouragement to use their skills in a range of situations and for a range of purposes, and support children in developing the confidence and disposition to do so.
Problem solving and reasoning
Children are supported in developing their understanding of problem solving, reasoning and numeracy in a broad range of contexts in which they can explore, enjoy, learn, practise and talk about their developing understanding. Children are provided with opportunities to practise these skills and to gain confidence and competence in their use.
Knowledge and understanding of the world
Children are supported in developing the knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world. Their learning is supported through offering opportunities for them to use a range of tools safely; encounter creatures, people, plants and objects in their natural environments and in real-life situations; undertake practical ‘experiments’; and work with a range of materials.
Children’s creativity is extended by providing activities to develop their curiosity, exploration and play. They are provided with opportunities to explore and share their thoughts, ideas and feelings, for example through a variety of art, music, movement, dance, imaginative and role-play activities, mathematics, and design and technology.
The physical development of young children must be encouraged through the provision of opportunities for them to be active and interactive and to improve their skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement. Children are supported in using all of their senses to learn about the world around them and to make connections between new information and what they already know. We support children in developing an understanding of the importance of physical activity and making healthy choices in relation to food.
All areas are of equal importance and many activities will cover many of the areas. Each area is divided up into stages of development and practitioners are able to identify resources and learning opportunities for individual children dependent on their developmental needs.
Children are assessed against the scale points. Please refer to Assessment section for more information.
Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
The purpose of St Bernard’s Primary School is to educate children in an atmosphere of Christian love, within the Catholic tradition. As a Catholic school we are an inclusive school and welcome children from different faiths and backgrounds. We recognise the importance of developing all the abilities of the children. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive school that sets high standards of academic achievement and places great value on the personal development of all of our children.
Aims of the St Bernard’s Primary Curriculum
- To provide a creative and challenging curriculum which promotes a love of learning.
- To enable children to achieve their full potential in all areas of development.
- To teach and practice a moral code based on Gospel values that will prepare all children for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life in today’s society
As of September 2014 we are ensuring that all curriculum areas are aligned with the expectations of the new curriculum, with a focus on mastering the fundamental concepts, providing deep learning and secure understanding. At St. Bernard’s we aim to create a learning environment that is exciting, challenging, safe and happy. We offer a broad and balanced curriculum enriched with visitors, visits, events and activities to inspire in each child a joy for learning. Our Catholic ethos focuses on our expectation for our children to be honest and respectful, care for others and work hard to develop skills, which will enable them to be good citizens and achieve success now and in the future.
The children follow a broad and balanced curriculum in accordance with the National Curriculum 2014, to look at a copy, click here.
To deliver the National Curriculum, we use a combination of discreet subject teaching for English, Maths and Religious Education making links when appropriate to our connected creative curriculum. The core subjects, RE, English, and Maths receive the majority of the teaching time. Science, History, Geography, Computing, Art, Design and Technology, Music, PHSE and PE make up the rest of the timetable and are taught through themed enquiry topics.
Our enquiry topics allow us to deliver the curriculum in a meaningful, exciting and motivational manner. We have ensured that we teach all elements of the National Curriculum but in a more purposeful and fun way. Regular feedback from our children shows that they enjoy this approach.
To see our St Bernard’s whole school curriculum map, please click the following links:
- St Bernard EYFS Curriculum Map
- St Bernard Whole School Curriculum Map
At the beginning of each enquiry topic, children are encouraged to contribute to the planning stage, to involve then as active learners. Our school curriculum is designed to encourage enquiry, confidence, independence and good communication skills. We aim to develop all the elements of being a successful learner in all our children, in order to give them skills for learning and skills for life.
Every topic is evaluated through interviews with children and staff, skills builder cards, work scrutiny and learning walks. Recommendations from this monitoring feed into the following year’s planning.
As a voluntary aided Catholic School, the Catholic religious ethos is to be found across the whole curriculum and not just within the Religious Education programme. The children’s faith is enriched through contact with the faith and prayer of the staff and the Christian atmosphere of the school.
Children are helped to understand their world and their lives in the light of their faith. The school supports, extends and clarifies what the children learn and experience at home and in church.
Daily worship and Religious Education are seen as having an important influence in promoting the Christian attitudes and values we hope children will apply through their lives.
The Religious Education we provide is in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic faith. We teach the "God Matters” programme. This scheme is the curriculum strategy for Religious Education in Catholic Primary Schools in the Diocese of Clifton.
“God Matters” programme of study:
- Term 1 - Creation, Prayers, Saints and Feasts
- Term 2 - Prayers, Saints and Feasts, Advent
- Term 3 - Christmas, Revelation
- Term 4 - Lent, Holy Week
- Term 5 - Easter, Pentecost and Mission
- Term 6 - Pentecost and Mission, Sacraments
There is a daily act of worship for all children that is suited to their age and stage of personal, social and religious development. Children are involved as much as possible in leading school worship.
The parish priest, Father Cosmas, helps the children to appreciate and participate in the liturgy of the Church. During the school term, the children take part in the celebration of the Mass either in church or school. The major Christian festivals are celebrated with special services in which pupils participate. Parents are very welcome to join us on these occasions. When the children are in Year 3, with parish support, they prepare for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.
Parents have a statutory right to withdraw their children from Religious Education and worship. It is not expected that parents seeking a place in a Catholic School would wish to exercise this option. In many instances it would be very difficult to identify a specifically "Religious" element in a topic or theme as Catholic philosophy underpins so much of our everyday work. Any parents considering withdrawing their children from this area of the curriculum should put their request in writing to the Head teacher. They are very strongly urged to discuss the matter with the Head teacher in advance of any such decision.
However this is just a part of what we offer. We believe our faith influences everything that happens within the school, our work, our play and our relationships with each other and the wider community. We follow the example that Jesus gave us so that we can keep Jesus at the centre of all that we do. “Following the footsteps of Jesus, we celebrate and learn together.”
English is taught daily as a separate lesson, but is also incorporated into our creative curriculum themes. In English lessons, children are immersed in reading a wide range of texts and discussing the features of different types of texts, (genres). They then use the skills and knowledge to develop their own writing. Children are encouraged to see themselves as authors and are provided with many opportunities for - purposeful writing. Children are also taught basic skills including phonics, spelling, punctuation and grammar.
We use the ‘Read Write Inc’ phonics programme and Talk for Writing in EYFS and Year 1, progressing to Read Write Inc – “Literacy and Language” from Year 2 and throughout KS2. Children write every day, building up ideas, planning, writing, evaluating and editing their writing. Talk for writing is embedded throughout so children rehearse orally what they will write later. Partner work ensures that every child is speaking every day to enrich their vocabulary and comprehension.
The National Curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary, grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. We aim to ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language. Pupils are encouraged to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They are given opportunities to practice making their thinking clear to themselves and others. Pupils are also taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.
The programmes of Study for reading at Key Stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:
- Word reading
- Comprehension (both listening and reading)
Reading development is closely related to speaking and listening, and writing. It is by immersion in text, reflecting and talking about it, and by experiencing the writing process for themselves that children come to understand the special relationship that exists between author and reader. It is through their critical and imaginative engagement with texts that pupils’ reading of fiction, poetry and non-fiction texts enables them to make sense of the world and their place in it.
During the Literacy lesson, pupils are exposed to a variety of texts including fiction, poetry and non-fiction. The texts selected are rich and challenging, generally stretching the current reading ability of majority of the class, based on the Literacy and Language scheme).
In guided reading. The responsibility for reading shifts to the learner
We use Read, Write Inc. phonics programme, children are taught to:
- learn to read and write letter-sound correspondences quickly
- decode effortlessly, spell and handwrite easily
- comprehend what they read
- read with fluency and expression
- write confidently using oral rehearsal
- work effectively with a partner to articulate their learning at every step.
Five key principles underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. Programmes:
- Participation - our teaching strategies ensure that all children participate fully in the whole lesson – there is no chance for children to lose concentration and miss key elements of the teaching
- Praise – children work together, as partners, taking turns to teach and praise one another and they are motivated by the focused praise they receive from teachers and teaching assistants
- Pace - a lively pace keeps all the children fully engaged
- Purpose - teachers know the purpose of every activity and how it leads into the next
- Passion - it is easy for teachers to be passionate about their teaching because they see their children make such rapid progress.
Speaking and Listening
Across the school we are consistently trying to develop the children’s speaking and listening skills. At home, you can help by encouraging your child to speak using full sentences and new words. Learning to take turns and listen to different people is also a lifelong skill.
Taking part in plays, productions and presentations helps children to develop their confidence for speaking in front of a group / audience. This is part of their work readiness.
Children throughout the school have a daily maths lesson, children are encouraged to enjoy maths and have a positive, confident attitude to problem solving. They are taught to make connections across mathematical ideas to develop fluency, reasoning and confidence in problem solving.
We follow a calculation policy designed to ensure that children have secure, efficient methods with which to perform mathematical calculations. In order to calculate well children need a secure knowledge of mental calculation facts. To ensure our children are successful, we have a whole school focus to strengthen mental methods and the recall of facts. We believe that the teaching and learning of maths can be enjoyable and challenging for our children. Lessons are carefully planned and teachers assess progress to ensure that children are given work which will challenge and support them in their learning.
Modern Foreign Languages
The teaching of Modern Foreign Languages at KS2 offers many valuable learning opportunities. These include the development of language skills and language-learning skills and the ability to understand and communicate in a new language. In KS2 children have a weekly lesson provided by St Bede’s Catholic College. Every child in KS2 has at least 1/2 hr a week from a French specialist with the whole lesson being taught in French.
Science enables children to discover and investigate the world around them and to satisfy their natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge. We aim to encourage children to think independently and to explore scientific ideas through investigation and experiments. Science is taught as part of our Creative curriculum, and this year we have also put a significant focus on ensuring that subject knowledge based on the outline in the new national curriculum, is included in our creative units.
By understanding people’s relationships with the physical and built environment they can form ideas about how to live. Our children learn and understand the importance of developing a future that is sustainable. In KS1 children develop their knowledge about the world, the United Kingdom, and their locality. In KS2 they extend this knowledge and understanding to beyond the local area to include the United Kingdom and Europe, North and South America.
At St Bernard’s we believe that engaging our children in questions about people and events in the past helps them understand the present and prepare for the future.
History in KS1 is taught through comparing now and in the past through a range of themes. Children are also taught about the lives of Famous People in the past and the impact they have had on today. History in KS2 includes studies of ancient civilizations and the history of Britain, and the study of a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history. Themes and significant events are also explored.
Music is taught as part of our creative curriculum, using Music Express scheme. All pupils learn to sing and play classroom instruments. They all have opportunities to listen to a wide variety of music from different times and cultures. Pupils also learn to improvise and develop their own musical compositions. Here at St. Bernard’s, we are also offering opportunities for children to have specialist instrumental teachers, Year 3 recorders, Year 4 and 5 the fife and Year 6 ukulele. Our own music specialist, teaches the violin to Year 1 and Year 2.
Pupils have the opportunity to join Choir club. Music also plays a big part in many of our productions
Art and Design and Food Technology
Through looking at, discussing, exploring and practising the techniques, children develop a visual perceptiveness and language with which they can explore the world around them and express their ideas and feelings. Art is experimental and explorative and is not just about the finished piece, but the whole creative process. Often, you can see some fantastic art work on display.
Cookery is through our creative curriculum, children cook a range of foods, linked to creative units and RE.
P.E. is composed of dance, gymnastics, swimming, and games. At St Bernard’s we have a minimum of two P.E. lessons a week, so that children receive 2 hours of physical education. One lesson is taken by our staff and the other lesson is taken by specialist coaches from St Bede’s Catholic College. Children also have the opportunity through School Sports Partnership to take part in tournaments and competitions with local partnership schools.
Please see Sports Premium Report for further information.
At St. Bernard’s we believe that in our technology rich lives, it is crucial that our children are curious and confident when using ICT. We use ICT to enable our pupils to be active participants in their learning and to develop skills for the future. All of our children are taught coding skills using guidance from the new curriculum.
For further information see our ‘Switched on Computing’ scheme under Curriculum tab.
St Bernard’s School provides extra-curricular activities, such as Music Projects, School Camp, Life Skills at the Create Centre, that also help to broaden the schools provision. Our school curriculum is designed to encourage enquiry, confidence, independence and good communication skills. We pride ourselves on being a friendly and welcoming school, and treasure our family atmosphere.
Here at St Bernard’s, we believe that all children can achieve to the best of their ability. We are committed in supporting children become independent and motivated learners, so that when they leave us they continue to love learning. We have trialled the ‘Growth Mindset’ approach in Year 4 and last year and saw a great improvement in the children’s attitude towards learning.
Click here to download some more information about this.