Nursery and Reception Curriculum
Our Nursery curriculum is built around the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, with a strong focus on developing physical, communication and social skills. We see that in building these essential foundations, pupils are able to go on and thrive academically as their educational journey continues through our Junior School and beyond. The EYFS curriculum is planned to provide a personalised, engaging and ambitious curriculum for pupils to enjoy, whether they are inside our state-of-the-art classroom or dedicated outdoor learning spaces, with carefully planned learning experiences designed to meet every child’s needs, interests and stage of development, which will be unique for each individual. We teach all fundamental Early Years Foundation Stage skills through a mixture of play-based learning and teacher-directed focus tasks.
Creating a sense of joy and a love of learning is essential when planning teaching and learning opportunities within our Nursery and Reception setting. We respond to children in the moment, using every opportunity to extend their thinking and challenge their understanding further. Our experienced and qualified EYFS staff make it their priority to have high-level interactions with children while they are involved in self-initiated play and use these moments to inform their planning and cater to children’s individual needs. This is supported by our high staff to pupil ratio; our Nursery class is led by a trained teacher and three highly-skilled and qualified teaching assistants (two are also qualified teachers), who work hard to get to know the pupils as individuals, identifying their interests, areas of strength and target very quickly. In Reception, both classes are taught by a dedicated Form Teacher and highly-skilled Teaching Assistant supporting the learning in the classroom. All EYFS staff are forward-thinking in their approach to education and our lessons are tailored to meet the needs and interests of every pupil, driven by research-led practice and an insistence that strong pastoral care will lead to excellent progress and high levels of academic achievement.
The ongoing support, collaboration and involvement of EYFS parents in school life is something that we take great pride in at St Dunstan’s. Whilst the initial ‘settling in’ period sees us focus, understandably, upon the personal, social and emotional aspects of a child’s development, we soon build very strong, trusting and positive relationships with pupils and families, enabling us to maximise the benefits of the safe and secure environment that we have created by exploring other key strands of the curriculum. This includes phonics, mathematics and specialist lessons, including swimming once children are in Reception. Children are taught PE, Spanish and music by subject specialist teachers and our co-curricular Forder Programme is also introduced once pupils reach Reception. The prioritisation of strong, trusting relationships between pupils, parents and staff mean that pupils feel safe, secure and settled in school. This enables them to engage well with the learning, whether in the classroom, our dedicated outdoor learning spaces or in our Woodland Classroom. In addition to this, being an EYFS setting in a well-resourced whole-College, we are able to benefit from the facilities and expertise across the school, and we often invite guest speakers and teachers to support our learning, seeing our EYFS pupils enjoy demonstrations in our science laboratories, performances in our Great Hall and dance workshops from drama specialists to name some examples of our broad, balanced and dynamic curriculum.
Our assessment of pupils is ongoing and focused on the seven key areas of learning as outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. Our online assessment tool, Tapestry, is open to parents throughout the academic year in order that parents can view the progress their child is making on an ongoing basis, contribute their own home-based observations and understand what next steps in learning are for their children. In addition to this, parents will receive two reports per year, as well as two parent-teacher consultation evenings. Our staff are also keen to ensure that parents fully understand our educational approaches and in-class strategies and we therefore welcome parents to several information evenings over the course of an academic year. As well as ongoing observations and focus-tasks, our baseline assessments within the first half term of Nursery and Reception also helps inform teacher planning from the earliest stages of the academic year, according to the prime areas of learning: communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, as well as literacy, mathematics, understanding of the world and expressive arts and design.