Pre-School & I1 (Reception) Curriculum
At Kirkham Grammar Junior, Infant and Pre-School we recognise that what happens early, matters for a lifetime. As educators from rising three year olds, we are in a unique position to directly influence our pupils’ life chances.
We follow the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5 years. Our EYFS (Pre-School and I1) curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning from previous settings and their experiences at home. We work in partnership with parents, carers and other settings to provide the best possible start at Kirkham Grammar School, ensuring each individual fulfils their potential from their various starting points.
Our Curriculum Intent
Our curriculum, in partnership with the Cornerstones curriculum, has been constructed to enable children to succeed through cooperative and collaborative learning principles. As such, there is a strong emphasis on the Prime Areas of learning: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Literacy, Mathematics, Communication and Language, and Physical Development.
At Kirkham Grammar Junior, Infant and Pre-School, we recognise that good speaking and listening skills not only improves academic outcomes, but is a life skill to ensure success beyond school, in life and future employment; it is widely known that the first five years are the most important years for health and happiness in adulthood.
Strong skills in this area develops children’s thinking and understanding, which in turn promotes self-confidence, resilience and empathy; all of which naturally supports their well-being. Our enabling environments and warm, skilful and responsive adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration right from the start. We therefore provide an engaging curriculum that maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking. We follow children’s interests and ideas to foster a lifelong love of learning both in and outside of school.
From the start of Pre-School until the end of I1, our intent is to ensure that all children make at least good progress from their starting points and that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to have a smooth transition into I2 (Year 1).
Our Curriculum Implementation
Our EYFS curriculum is based on the Statutory EYFS Framework and the non-statutory Development Matters. We have a play-based approach and offer the right balance between teacher-directed and child-led learning. Children’s language development is at the heart of the curriculum, so our curriculum is built around stories and includes plenty of communication activities. Our curriculum is vibrant and designed to inspire awe and wonder in the world, whilst ensuring our children learn specific skills and knowledge. In each topic, children can apply their phonics, literacy and mathematics skills through fun, play-based activities. Our curriculum involves a sequence of main and shorter ‘companion’ topics. All activities are supported with enhanced provision ideas. To provide a consistent pedagogical approach, every topic and mini topic follows our unique four stage approach to learning: Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express.
Here’s what this looks like in practice:
A topic begins with a memorable experience to hook the children in and spark their curiosity. During the Engage stage, children will have time to play and explore the themes. These activities are to find out about the children’s existing knowledge and interests, and to support further planning.
This stage offers teacher-directed tasks that cover all aspects of learning, and supports the children to acquire fundamental knowledge and skills across the whole curriculum of the Early Years. Each task links to an enhanced provision idea, so that the children can develop skills and explore their learning independently. We also provide examples of key prompts and questions that help to extend children’s knowledge and challenge their thinking.
After developing children’s skills and knowledge across all aspects of learning, the Innovate stage provides opportunities for children to apply their learning in new and exciting ways. It supports them to make links with their experiences, work collaboratively and solve problems together.
Finally, in the Express stage, children have the chance to reflect on their learning and share their experiences with others.
Reading is an essential element of our curriculum, and we aim to develop a love of reading right from the start. We implement Phase One phonics in Pre-School, with the emphasis during Phase 1 to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills. In I1, Phase One continues, but children are introduced to Phase 2 and 3, where they will develop segmenting and blending skills to decode words. During the Summer Term, children will move on to Phase 4 as and when they are ready. Children are encouraged to read at home and are listened to daily at School. They are given books that match their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning, with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers.
In Pre-School, children develop a love of mathematics through games, songs, rhymes, and play using concrete manipulatives. There is a focus on the following counting principles: one-to-one correspondence, stable order and cardinal principle. We are proud to have achieved a ‘Best practice in Mathematics’ kitemark award from Lancashire County Council, celebrating our achievement and commitment to Mathematics.
In I1, we begin our whole school learning journey with Power Maths; this covers the Early Learning Goals and makes Mathematics an adventure. ‘Power Maths Reception’ is written by a team of Mastery Specialists and Early Years advisors and is a whole-class mastery approach that works for every child, building on the strong mathematical foundations created in Pre-School.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together, but we have a range of additional intervention and support for some children, or stretch and challenge for those who demonstrate a greater depth of understanding. This includes, for example, sessions for developing speech and language, social skills, fine motor skills, phonics, and mathematics.
Language and Communication
All KGS EYFS staff, as well as the KGS Head of Learning Support and our Junior, Infant and Pre-School Assistant Head (English), have completed training in ‘Early Talk Boost’. Early Talk Boost is a targeted intervention aimed at 3 – 4-year-old children with delayed language, helping to boost their language skills to narrow the gap between them and their peers. The nine-week programme aims to accelerate children’s progress in language and communication by an average of 6 months. Children who are selected to take part in the intervention will attend three sessions 15-minute sessions per week during circle/story time. The sessions include activities that cover the foundation skills in speech, language and communication that children need for learning and understanding new words, as well as having conversations. For pupils who we consider would benefit from this intervention, we work in partnership with parents so that this can also be a focus at home.
As a school that is traditionally renowned for its sporting success, Physical Education is a priority for our children, as it is the gateway to all learning. Children in the Early Years should be physically active for at least three hours per day, both indoors and outdoors. Core strength underpins gross and fine motor control and both are important to develop the hands (writing), feet and toes (balance and running) and facial muscles (speaking).
Our Class Teachers and specialist PE teachers teach gymnastics, athletics, dance, games and ball skills to our EYFS children. This is alongside an environment that promotes physical opportunities that challenge and encourage our pupils to take calculated physical risks.
Each term we have an EYFS check-in meeting with parents to specifically discuss children’s physical development and ways to support their ongoing development.
Our aim is to foster an ongoing enjoyment of physical activity that lasts a lifetime, where our pupils will go on to take part in individual and team sport, both within school and in the wider community.
Our Curriculum Impact
Prior to children starting, our dedicated KGS staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journeys, alongside the statutory Two Year Check Report, to gain an understanding of the whole child. During the first half term in Pre-School or I1, all staff use ongoing assessments, observations and conversations with the child to develop a baseline assessment. We complete ongoing assessments with pupils to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. We work collaboratively and ‘hands-on’ with the pupils and do not promote excessive time spent on administrative work, which would not be beneficial for them; we know our pupils well and enjoy spending valuable time and experiences with them.
Phonic assessments are carried out each half term. These help to track each pupil’s progress in this area, and enable us to offer support and intervention in order for them to make the expected progress. Our aim is for pupils to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’, recognising the importance of this phase of development. Similarly, Mathematics attainment is closely monitored linked to each concept and recorded by way of an in-house tracker.
Writing is linked to many developmental areas and is formally assessed termly, and pupil work is stored in ‘We Are Writers’ books. These move through School and offer ongoing vital assessment information in relation to this learning area.
Summative assessments are completed, these begin in the Spring Term of I1 with Progress in Reading and Mathematics (PIRA/PUMA). This data is used to support our holistic overview of a child’s development and is completed either one-to-one with pupils or in small groups.
Baseline assessments relating to Early Talk Boost also guide our overview of pupil development and progress.
An in-house tracker is completed in relation to all areas of learning to facilitate teacher assessments of where pupils are and this is shared with parents on their Autumn Term and Summer Term report. At the end of the Summer Term, the EYFS Profile is completed, where our teachers judge whether a child has met the 17 Early Learning Goals (ELG). They are assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected’. Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the I2 teachers. For pupils who are still receiving Early Years funding from Lancashire County Council, this is also reported as a statutory obligation.
Impact is also evident through the pupils’ successful transition into I2. EYFS staff have a sound understanding of how ELG’s link to the I2 (Year 1) curriculum. Through our robust planning and delivery across the spectrum of subjects – both core and foundation – we aspire for children to leave the EYFS stage with the skills, knowledge and confidence to continue their journey as curious, determined and kind members of Kirkham Grammar School.