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
Statement of Curriculum Intent
At St Bernard’s Primary school, the aim of our broad and balanced curriculum is to equip children with the skills and values to become learners who: persevere, collaborate, inquire, empathise, create and are spiritually minded. Our Catholic ethos is at the core of our curriculum, we ensure that all our pupils respect each other and have respect for people of all faiths, race and gender and know how to make a positive contribution to their community and wider society; ensuring that our children are well prepared for life in modern Britain.
Our curriculum design is guided by our three drivers: Spirituality, Inquiry and Knowledge of the World.
- Spirituality – Children understand that Jesus is present in the lives of every person. Our viewpoint is based on the teaching of Jesus Christ through the Gospels and teachings of the Catholic Church; through prayer and reflection, we are tolerant and respectful of other beliefs and cultures.
- Inquiry – Children will gain the skills to be resourceful and independent in their learning. Through the experiences provided, they will be inquisitive and questioning. Children will be independent thinkers and will apply skills of: risk taking, problem solving, higher order thinking, they will display a growth mindset and take pride in their work.
- Knowledge of the World – Children have an awareness of the diversity in their community, the UK and the wider world. They will be able to relate learning to real life contexts; investigate the impact of important individuals; be environmentally aware and use technology proficiently.
Statement of Curriculum Implementation
At St Bernard’s we follow The Early Years Foundation Curriculum and The National Curriculum. To enhance and personalise, we have designed a bespoke curriculum, based on the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum. This includes not only the formal requirements but also Creative Themes for Learning, which provide inspiring and exciting cross-curricular themes linked to the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum, at the appropriate milestone.
We have chosen the Chris Quigley curriculum because it is organised into 3 milestones. Each milestone has a set of indicators that are also repeated through three cognitive domains: Basic, Advancing and Deep. It is expected that the vast majority of pupils will have an Advanced understanding by the end of a milestone, and that some will have a Deep understanding.
Securing fundamental foundations
Applying fundamental foundations
Inventive use of fundamental foundations
Example: Involves following instructions
Example: requires application involving some degree of decision making
Example: multi-step thinking, reasoning and justification
At St Bernard’s we recognise that nothing is really learned unless it rests in children’s long- term memories.
We have planned a two-year cycle of provision, through which the pupils will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge across a broad thematic curriculum, and through repetition within the milestones, over a two-year period child will move to a deeper level. During the first year of a milestone, children will develop their basic skills. In the second year, they will revisit these, enabling pupils to develop a greater depth of understanding.
Our curriculum is designed to be accessed by all children, we may need to differentiate and modify the curriculum on order to meet their needs. If children have special educational needs, we comply with the requirements of the new SEND Code of Practice.
Learning has been planned to ensure children build their knowledge, skills and understanding progressively from Y1 to Y6. The curriculum has been planned in four stages, the foundation stage (EYFS), Milestone 1 (Y1 and Y2), Milestone 2 (Y3 and Y4) and Milestone 3 (Y5 and Y6). Each milestone and year group, follow an over-arching theme every half term (see the attached year group curriculum overview grids). Each theme provides opportunities for our children to be immersed in the context of their learning. We use high quality, challenging texts in English that are, when relevant, related to the over-arching theme. This enables opportunities for the development of vocabulary, knowledge and concept (see class theme texts and T4W texts document).
To further enhance the curriculum, we also have whole school projects throughout the year that allow for further-in-depth development of knowledge concepts and understanding. These are questions based around our three curriculum drivers. For example: Who is marginalised in our society? In God’s eyes people are born equal, where are we getting this wrong? (Y6) Where in the world would you like to travel to? How do you prepare for a journey? (Y2) Why is India described as full of beauty, wonder, spirit and culture? How are India and Britain connected? (Y4).
Statement of Curriculum Impact
The impact of our curriculum is that by the end of each Milestone, most children will have an Advanced understanding, and some will have a Deep understanding of the detailed knowledge and skills across the curriculum, this will be measured by:
Before each unit of work or theme, pre-assessments will be carried out to assess children’s starting points and to identify upcoming learning. Ongoing assessment will take place throughout a unit or theme. Post learning assessments are in the form of DFE recognised assessments in maths and English, end of unit science quiz’s, writing assessments which are moderated externally and internally. Children’s learning of the wider curriculum subjects will be assessed using bespoke assessment grids. Statutory tests inform us of the overall impact of our curriculum. Children will have the opportunity to share their learning with each other, their parents/carers.
The Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher organize the monitoring of teaching and learning as well as curriculum development and receive feedback from Subject Leaders. Subject leaders play an important part in the success of the curriculum by leading a regular programme of monitoring evaluation and review. They examine long-term and medium-term planning, books, talk to children, participate in learning walks and ensure that appropriate teaching strategies are used to ensure maximum impact and progress in their subject area. The celebration of good practice contributes to the ongoing commitment to improve further.
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. 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.”
Mastery Approach to Teaching and Learning
The mastery-learning model forms the basis of our approach to teaching and learning at St Bernard’s Primary. This means spending greater time going into depth about a subject as opposed to racing through the things that all children ‘should’ know. Previously, racing through content lead to some children having large gaps in their subject knowledge because the concept they had just learnt was either too big or learnt too quickly. As a primary school, it is our duty to ensure that children have an absolutely solid, concrete understanding of subject knowledge and skills taught as well as being emotionally resilient and ready for secondary school.
Now, we have the confidence to take learning at a steadier and deeper pace, ensuring children are not left behind, as well as providing deeper and richer experiences for children who are above the national expectation for their age.
We focus on allowing as many children as possible to achieve what is expected of their age group and not going beyond this. Evidence shows that children need to be able to understand a concept, apply it in a range of situations and then be creative to really understand it. Simply going beyond their age group does not guarantee they understand something at a ‘mastery’ level.
At our school no child will be taught content from the year group above them, they will spend time becoming true masters of content, applying and being creative with new knowledge and skills in multiple ways.
In short, this means working towards:
- Teach less, learn more: less teacher talk and more evidencing learning and progress
- No child left behind*: all children are enabled to keep up every day.
- Space and time to experience and apply, with all children entitled to additional support to ensure they do not fall behind or to go deeper
- Understanding real life applications wherever possible to make learning relevant and not abstract; nothing should be taught without a purpose.
All of this means that you may see a change in the way we teach and assess your child, most notably will be in how we organise your child’s learning and how we report their progress to you.
We will be doing more of this:
- Teaching all children together
- Verbal feedback during lessons,
- Spending longer on one idea,
- Giving children who need it, additional support over shorter, more intense periods, like a day or week.
- Pre-learning – groups of pupils being given a ‘leg up’ by carrying out preliminary learning that will help them to access the contents of the next teaching sequence and prevent them falling behind.
- Top–up sessions – groups of pupils that are in danger of falling behind will have sessions provided by the teacher or a teaching assistant to consolidate new concepts.
And less of this:
- Covering lots of ideas in one week
- Formal, long term interventions out of class
- Separating children into ability groups
This approach is seen as good practice. It is promoted by the government and seen as the best way to deliver the new national curriculum.
NB* We are a fully inclusive school and ensure that all pupils are making progress but are aware that for some pupils with SEND requirements, the amount of effort put in is just as important as the academic standards reached. We consider meaningful ways of measuring all aspects of progress including communication, social skills, physical development, resilience and independence.
Reception to year 2 follow a Talk for Writing approach which is in combination with a daily Read Write Inc. lesson. In year 3, Read Write Inc. is used when necessary and Talk for Writing is continued throughout the year.
- Talk for Writing is an engaging teaching framework developed by Pie Corbett, supported by Julia Strong. It is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version.
- In Read Write Inc., children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes.
They experience success from the very beginning. Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases.
Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.
From year 4 to year 6, classes follow a book-centred, English curriculum; units of learning last for around 6 weeks. The first 3 weeks will involve the learning of a fiction book. Lessons of reading and writing will be inspired by the books. Once the fiction book unit is completed there is around 3-weeks of a non-fiction focus. This cycle is then repeated. Stimulating books have been chosen carefully to inspire the children's reading and writing, and also to match the theme learning of the year group (for example, when year 5 learn about the First World War they will in conjunction be reading Michael Morpurgo's War Horse).
Maths – A Mastery Approach
The essential idea behind mastery is that all children need a deep understanding of the mathematics they are learning so that:
- future mathematical learning is built on solid foundations which do not need to be re-taught;
- there is no need for separate catch-up programmes due to some children falling behind;
- children who, under other teaching approaches, can often fall a long way behind, are better able to keep up with their peers, so that gaps in attainment are narrowed whilst the attainment of all is raised.
There are generally four ways in which the term mastery in mathematics is used:
- A mastery approach: a set of principles and beliefs. This includes a belief that all pupils are capable of understanding and doing mathematics, given sufficient time. Pupils are neither ‘born with the maths gene’ nor ‘just no good at maths’. With good teaching, appropriate resources, effort and a ‘can do’ attitude all children can achieve in and enjoy mathematics.
- A mastery curriculum: one set of mathematical concepts and big ideas for all. All pupils need access to these concepts and ideas and to the rich connections between them. There is no such thing as ‘special needs mathematics’ or ‘gifted and talented mathematics’. Mathematics is mathematics and the key ideas and building blocks are important for everyone.
- Teaching for mastery: a set of practices that keep the class working together on the same topic, whilst at the same time addressing the need for all pupils to master the curriculum and for some to gain greater depth of proficiency and understanding. Challenge is provided by going deeper.
- Achieving mastery of particular topics and areas of mathematics. Mastery is not just being able to memorise key facts and procedures and answer test questions accurately and quickly.
It involves knowing ‘why’ as well as knowing ‘that’ and knowing ‘how’. It means being able to use one’s knowledge appropriately, flexibly and creatively and to apply it in new and unfamiliar situations.
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 becoming independent and motivated learners, so that when they leave us they continue to love learning. Growth Mindset has inspired us to create 6 learning superheroes (Growth Heroes). Meet: Spiritual Star, The Excellent Empathiser, Champion of Perseverance, Captain Creativity, The Incredible Inquirer and The Cool Collaborator. These heroes help guide our children in gaining essential life skills.