At Sprowston we provide a high quality curriculum, which engages children and enables them to develop the key knowledge and skills they need for future life. In formulating our curriculum, we carefully considered our children’s needs and what we want them to have achieved by the time they leave us. From this, we designed a curriculum that enables our children to learn what they need. We base our curriculum on the National Curriculum (2014), and carefully sequence the content to ensure children are able to learn it well.
At Sprowston our curriculum looks slightly different in each phase, to reflect the unique stages of development children go through in the EYFS (early years foundation stage) and key stage 1.
In Reception we follow a ‘planning in the moment’ approach. It is all about seizing the moment for children to progress. Based on what the children are already deeply involved in, this way of planning relies on skilled practitioners using quality interactions to draw out the children’s knowledge and build on it there and then (in the moment). This means that the practitioner needs the skills to be able to see the teachable moment (Learning, Playing and Interacting, DfE) from the child’s perspective and be skilled enough to know when to intervene and when to stand back and observe. The best levels of involvement are seen when children initiate their own play. We cannot know what they will choose to do. Therefore, we cannot ‘plan’ this in advance. We need to watch, wait & wonder and then plan how to respond in that moment (Ephgrave).
What does teaching look like?
Children in YR have a daily phonics, reading and Maths input, and a story at the end of the day. For the rest of the day, they will be in ‘freeflow’, able to access inside and outside areas. For these less directed periods, we refer to the definition of early years teaching set out by Ofsted: “Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term which covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges.” (OFSTED, 2015)
Why this approach?
- Levels of engagement are higher and children develop independence and take ownership of their learning.
- Learning takes place over time, not just within a lesson.
- Hart and Risley (2005) suggest that children need to hear and use new vocabulary at least 50 times in a context that is meaningful to them in order to be able to say it.
- Children need opportunities to apply learning in many different contexts to develop deeper understanding.
- They are able to return to concepts in many different ways over time, naturally linking to other areas.
- Children learn and develop skills that are beneficial for life-long learning such as curiosity, imagination, initiative, determination, perseverance, risk-taking, energy, fascination, focus, attention to detail, resilience, enjoyment of challenge, pride, problem solving ability, ability to plan ahead, flexibility, cooperation.
- Adults have more flexibility to personalise learning where required for individuals within the day.
As the children move through the school, we retain elements of the approach, while gradually adding in more structure. This is to reflect the increasing demands of the key stage 1 curriculum content, as well as preparing the children for key stage 2 and junior school.
In Key Stage 1
The Key Stage 1 curriculum operates on a two-year rolling programme. Detailed progression maps and medium-term plans ensure that children follow the correct progression for each subject and that work is pitched at the right level.
In KS1, the curriculum is organised around larger termly themes, which feature a ‘big question’. For example, the big question for the autumn term is ‘Does fire have a use?’ Learning across subjects is related to the theme and builds connected knowledge and skills over the term to give children a deeper understanding of the theme. This enables learning from different subjects to be tied together and it gives children a purpose for their learning; it helps them to understand what they are learning and why, and also makes it more memorable.
We believe that children should experience a wide range of authors and develop a love of reading. To ensure this is a core part of our curriculum, we chose inspiring books each week to ‘hook’ the children into their learning. These books are carefully chosen with national curriculum objectives in mind and ensure children are immersed in new vocabulary and inspiring illustrations that promote awe and wonder. Integrating books into the wider curriculum means children have ongoing opportunities to use the reading skills they learn in phonics lessons. It also inspires and informs continuous provision, so play is purposeful and with a learning focus.
Children complete ‘challenges’ from different national curriculum areas, which are focused on key skills and knowledge children need to learn. Many of these will be linked to the book hook for the week. Some of the challenges require direct input from the teacher, while some are available for the children to work on independently. In addition to this, Y1 classes are very well stocked with open-ended resources (‘continuous provision’), and the children have some time in which they can explore their own ideas inside and outside the classroom.
The children have daily reading lessons, a phonics and Maths lesson every day, as well as further input around themes and literacy. In Y1, teachers work intensively with English and Maths groups to provide focused teaching and immediate feedback on their work. In Y2, English and Maths lessons are usually taught with the whole class together.
There are many other things in our curriculum we do that contribute to children’s personal development, such as:
Multi-school council – together with Hall School we are the first schools in Norfolk collaborating to help break down perceptions towards SEND and mental health in schools and the wider community. We are being supported by Kieran Pearce in Essex. We meet termly, with children from mainstream and special schools, to learn more about each other and collaborate on projects.
Partnering with Friend in Deed – visits to local care homes
Sing Up event at St Andrew’s Hall
‘cultural capital’ doc
Reading and Maths cafes
Stay and plays
After school clubs
Lunchtime sports coach
Class garden – growing vegetables
Children’s Mental Health Week
Singing at local venues
Visitors to school – health practitioners, police, RSPB and even some animal friends
Fundraising both for the school and wider charities
And we always welcome suggestion for new ideas…!