Our Curriculum

Our Curriculum

As an early years setting we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework (2021). Its sets out ratios and welfare requirements. It states that education should be put into practice four principles:

1.     A Unique child

2.     Positive Relationships

3.     Enabling environments

4.     Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates

Within the principle learning and development there are areas of learning which form the basis of curriculum planning and indicate the progress which children can be expected to make. These areas of learning finish at the end of reception class in school, when children are assessed against ‘Early Learning Goals’.
The seven areas of learning are:

1.     Personal, Social and Emotional development

2.     Communication & Language

3.     Physical Development

4.     Literacy

5.     Mathematics

6.     Understanding the World

7.     Expressive Arts and Design

Also key to this curriculum are the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning, which ensure we teach and notice the development of life-long learning skills such as being curious, having a go at new activities, taking risks and taking on challenges, bouncing back from difficulties, persevering, displaying resilience and being creative.

We are using Birth to 5 Matters, 2021 guidance and the Observation Checkpoints from Development Matters, 2020to guide our curriculum. These document form the basis for education from birth to five.

We provide a balance of planned and free play activities for our children, supported by experienced and well qualified staff. They are encouraged to become independent, confident, involved and happy learners. We aim to provide a curriculum to develop the whole child. Young children learn by first hand experiences i.e. doing, touching and seeing for themselves through play. Their intellectual, social, emotional, creative and physical development will be catered for by various play activities which we offer at nursery. In addition, we ensure they learn about phonics, maths, science and physical play when they are developmentally ready. These areas are also taught in in short, active daily focussed learning groups.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
At Grace Owen we believe that inclusive education means providing all pupils with appropriate education and support alongside their peers. The Curriculum is all the planned activities that the school organises in order to promote learning, personal growth and development. We prioritise inclusivity and work according to the needs and stage of development of each child, planning and sharing progress through working closely with families. We monitor children’s progress using observations and assessment.

For further information, please view our SEN/D report.

Areas of Learning and Development

Whilst all seven areas of learning are important and interconnected three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas are the prime areas.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) - Our Intent

This area of learning helps children to work, play and co-operate with others, learning how to participate in a group beyond the family. Successful personal, social, and emotional development is crucial for very young children in all aspects of their lives. It is also necessary for their success in all other areas of learning.
In this area we endeavour to ensure children are
• Interested, excited and motivated to learn.
• Confident to try new activities, initiate ideas and speak in a familiar group.
• Able to maintain attention, concentrate and sit quietly when appropriate.
• Aware of their own needs, views and feelings, and also sensitive to the needs, views and feelings of others.
• Respectful of their own and others’ culture and beliefs.
• Responsive to significant experiences showing a range of feelings when appropriate.
• Able to form good relationships with adults and peers.
• Able to work as part of a group, taking turns and sharing fairly, understanding that there needs to be agreed values and codes of behaviour for groups of people to work together.
• Able to understand what is right, what is wrong and why.
• Able to dress and undress independently and manage their own personal hygiene.
• Able to select and use activities and resources independently.
• Able to consider the consequences of their words and actions.
• Able to understand that people have different needs, views, cultures and beliefs, which need to be treated with respect.
• Able to understand that they can expect others to treat their needs, views, cultures and beliefs with respect.

Implementation and progression of PSED throughout the setting

We encourage children to develop in this area of learning in real day to day situations as they play alongside and then with others or during group times and mealtimes/snacks. We help them to be aware of their own and other’s feelings in those situations and learn to self-regulate and share as well as helping children to develop their friendships with others.

Impact on children’s learning and development

We measure children’s progress against the ranges in the EYFS by regularly observing them and noticing what they do already before planning next steps to move their learning on. Over time these observations show clear progress for the child and then the progress of all children can be analysed to ensure there are no gaps in learning and that children are ready to move into school at the end of their nursery journey.  

Communication and Language (C&L) – Our Intent

This area of learning focuses on the development of listening and attention skills, understanding and speaking.
In this area children learn to
• Enjoy listening to and using spoken language.
• Explore and experiment with sounds, words and sentences.
• Listen and respond to stories, songs, music, rhymes and poems.
• Make up their own stories, songs, music, rhymes and poems.
• Use language to imagine and re-create roles and experiences.
• Increasingly use talk to organise, sequence and clarify their thinking, ideas, feelings and events.
• Sustain attentive listening and increasingly respond to what they have heard by relevant comments, questions or actions.
• Interact with others, working towards negotiating plans and activities and take turns in conversation.
• Extend their vocabulary and explore the meaning and sound of new words.
• Retell narratives in the correct sequence, using the language patterns of stories.
• Speak clearly and audibly and with confidence and control, and show awareness of the listener, such as using greetings and ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’.

•We ask children questions and offer simple instructions to ensure they are developing understanding as their communication and language increases.

Implementation and progression of C&L throughout the setting

We tune into children’s communication and language as they play and learn and then staff help them to extend their communication skills, listening, vocabulary and understanding through regular interactions every day and encouraging them to practice their increasing skills with their peers in play and group sessions. We turn some of these observations into learning stories and share them with the children and families. As children get older we encourage them to make up their own stories, called Helicopter Stories and recall events from home and nursery. We encourage children to sing, chat, tell stories and recall past events and form opinions as well as ask and answer questions all the time.

Impact on children’s learning and development

We measure progress by closely observing and noting children’s communication and then feeding in next steps. Again we assess each child’s unique progress and then consider progress of the whole group to ensure we close any gaps. As communication and language underpins all areas of learning we prioritise development in this area for all children.  

Physical Development (PD) –Our Intent

This area covers moving and handling, health and self-care.
Children learn to
• Be comfortable and confident in their own bodies.
• Express themselves through fluid and assured movement
• Show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements.
• Move confidently in a range of ways, gradually negotiating space safely.
• Handle equipment and tools increasingly effectively, including pencils for mark making and early writing.
• Understand the importance of good health, physical exercise and a healthy diet.
• Increasingly manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.

Implementation and progression of PD throughout the setting

We ensure children have lots of opportunities to develop skills such as walking, climbing, balancing, negotiating spaces and running both inside in our Developmental Movement spaces and outside using equipment such as the climbing frame, balancing beams, bikes and large building equipment. We use our knowledge of physical development and connected brain development to help children explore their movements as they are programmed to do and through group activities such as Yoga and Development Movement Play games. We also give them lots of opportunities to refine their fine motor movements such as mark making, cutting, building, woodwork and using playdough. Through our day to day routines we help children to be more independent in their self-care such as toileting, handwashing and dressing as they put on coats or shoes for example and feeding themselves at mealtimes. As part of this we talk about keeping healthy and looking after our bodies, teeth and minds.

Impact on children’s learning and development

Again we observe children closely and take some photos to show their learning. We encourage them to challenge themselves and discuss their progress with families to see if their learning away from nursery is developing in similar ways. We offer support with toileting, routines around bedtime and sleep as well as fine motor paly.

In addition to the Prime Areas we also support children in four specific areas of learning.

Literacy – Our Intent

This is the area in which children learn about reading and writing
Over time they learn to
• Love stories and books.
• Understand how stories work with characters, plot, structure etc.
• Begin to recognise and maybe write sounds, letters and words.
• Begin to read words /captions and mimic reading and writing habits.

• Begin to use phonic knowledge to recognise letters and even words.
• Demonstrate understanding (comprehension) when talking with others about what they have read.
• Begin to use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds.

Implementation and progression of Literacy throughout the setting

We offer lots of opportunities to make marks using large and small tools from painting with large paint brushes and water outside to using pencils and felt tips on smaller pieces of paper. We share different types of books all the time and they form a huge part of our curriculum as children move through the setting. We share traditional tales with children in the Transition Room so they become familiar with the stories, key nouns, verbs and concepts using the Stories for Talking approach. We extend this in the Classroom so children discuss the rights and wrongs of characters and form opinions which they share with their friends in a Philosophy for Children way through our TWiTCH project.

Impact on children’s learning and development

We note children’s interest in books, both non-fiction and stories and write down some of the things they tell us about these, either the key phrases of the characters or their favourite parts of the book or which character they might want to be. We see if children anticipate what might happen next and if they can recall stories or facts and link themes across books.

Mathematics – Our Intent

This covers counting and numbers as well as shape, space and measures.
Children learn to
• Play with numbers and find ways to count different objects.
• Learn about the properties of 2 and 3D shapes, space and measures.
• Begin to record their mathematical thinking in different ways.
• Count reliably, especially with numbers from 0-10.
• Place numbers in order and begin to say which number is one more or one less than a given number.
• Count on or back to find the answer.
• Use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities.
• Recognise, create and describe patterns.
• Use mathematical language to describe everyday objects and shapes.
• Solve problems, such as sharing.

Implementation and progression of Mathematics throughout the setting

Maths in the early stages is about children experiencing concepts such as heavy and light by picking up and handling objects and learning the correct vocabulary to talk about the concept. It is also about learning the principles of counting such as number order or one to one correspondence. It is important children are taught these things then have lots of opportunities to practice and repeat them every day. We do this in lots of ways from counting the number of children in a group to setting the table in the home corner to lifting different sized pumpkins and moving them in the autumn.

Impact on children’s learning and development

Again we observe children’s use of maths closely and note key learning down. We share this with families and share ways they can use maths at home. We also look at the learning and progress of all children to ensure we teach things children need to learn next.

Understanding of the World (UTW) – Our Intent

This area covers finding out about people and communities, the world around us and technology.
Children learn to
• Investigate objects and materials by using all of their senses.
• Find out about and identify some features of living things, objects and events they observe.
• Look closely at similarities, differences, patterns and change.
• Ask questions about why things happen and how things work.
• Build and construct with a wide range of objects, selecting appropriate resources and adapting their work where necessary.
• Select the tools and techniques they need to shape, assemble and join the materials they are using.
• Find out about past and present events in their own lives and in those of their families and other people they know.
• Observe, find out about and identify features in the place they live and the natural world.
• Begin to know about their own cultures and beliefs and those of other people.
• Find out about their environment and talk about those features they like and dislike.

Implementation and progression of UTW throughout the setting

We use a range of equipment for building, designing and exploring using all senses as well as using festivals and key family events such as birthday to talk about similarities and differences. We explore the changing seasons and observe the world around us in detail from mini beasts or aeroplanes overhead or the trams passing by and help children to notice more and learn more about the world around them. We encourage them to start to ask questions and form ideas and make links. We also encourage children to use simple technology from cause and effect toys to programmable toys to cameras as they grow up in the modern age.

Impact on children’s learning and development

Observations of children’s interests and curiosity help us to see their stage of development and progress in this area. It’s great to know what they have been doing out of nursery too e.g. if they have been to the park, seen relatives or celebrated something special.

Expressive Arts and Design (EA&D)

This area includes art, music, dance, role play and imaginative play.
Children are able to
• Explore colour, texture, shape, form and space in two and three dimensions.
• Recognise and explore how sounds can be changed.
• Sing simple songs from memory and play with them to create new versions.
• Recognise repeated sounds and sound patterns.
• Match movement to music.
• Respond in a variety of ways to what they see, hear, smell, touch and feel.
• Use their imagination in art and design, music, dance, stories and imaginative play and role play.
• Express and communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings by using a widening range of materials, suitable tools, imaginative and role play, movement, design and making, and a variety of songs and musical instruments.

Implementation and progression of EA&D throughout the setting

We offer children a variety of musical experiences from listening to CDs and a wide variety of music from around the world to live experiences such as musical stories and visits from a professional musician to teach the elements of music and help children create their own music. We also encourage children to play instruments and make this part of their weekly experiences. We make space and time for children to move freely in ways they need to grow and develop from lots of crawling space for those not yet walking to the Developmental Movement Carpet for older children to dance and explore movements alone or with friends. We offer different role play and small world experiences to enhance learning and/or follow interests and provide the children with different media to create their own art as well as sharing the work of other artists with them. We have visited (and will begin to again post COVID restrictions) our local art gallery exhibitions e.g. Acne’s work around sayings where we focused on letters in our names and art installations such as Mausoleum of the Giants by Phlegm.

Impact on children’s learning and development

The variety of immersive experiences in art and design work enable children to explore their emotions, imaginations, communication and language skills, creativity and physical development. We document this through photos and commentary about the processes they work through in these activities, which we then share with families and display in the setting to show children’s learning and progress. We use this evidence to extend their learning further in future projects.

The Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning

These are the ways in which children engage with other people and their environment through playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically. They underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.

Playing and exploring-engagement

Finding out and exploring
Playing with what they know
Being willing to ‘have a go’

Active learning -motivation

Being involved and concentrating
Keep trying
Enjoying and achieving what they set out to do

Creating and thinking critically -thinking

Having their own ideas
Making links
Choosing ways to do things

To find out more about the curriculum Grace Owen Nursery School is following, please refer to the EYFS Statutory document and Birth to 5 Matters or come and talk to us about what your child is learning at the moment.