Our Curriculum Guiding Principles
We know that children learn from a range of stimuli, so our EYFS curriculum has been created for children to learn from a mix of discrete lessons, intentionally planned continuous provision and enriching deliberate provocations that are weaved into learning throughout the day.
We use the ‘characteristics of effective learning’ to underpin this curriculum:
|Playing and exploring||Children investigate and experience things, and are willing to have a go.|
|Active learning||Children concentrate and keep on trying when they encounter difficulties and enjoy their achievements.|
|Creating and Thinking Critically||Children have and develop their own ideas, are able to make links between ideas and develop a range of strategies for doing things.|
Reading sits at the heart of our curriculum at Ark Academy. From nursery to year 6, we aim to build a culture and love of reading that permeates every classroom alongside teaching the essential skills of reading. In the EYFS, quality texts stimulate all forms of literacy and all children leave reception with a strong cultural knowledge of well-known fairy tales, nursery rhymes and well-loved stories. The journey of a reader in the EYFS is well mapped out. From developing a phonetic awareness, to engaging in conversations about books and characters, to daily phonics instruction, and then developing their own independent reading strategies, children will leave the EYFS being able to successfully access the next stage of their learning in year 1 and beyond.
The curriculum in the EYFS has been deliberately designed to help children learn chunks of knowledge that will support them to develop skills, as we understand that knowledge and skills do not exist in isolation. It is ordered specially to give them ample opportunities to use this knowledge in a variety of contexts. Sequenced curriculum objectives are aligned to the 2021 Early Learning Goals and we have deliberately repeated key themes and stories throughout the EYFS to ensure children can build on their knowledge and have opportunities to develop and apply skills from the prime areas of learning and development. As children move through the phase, the curriculum is sequenced to prepare children for year 1.
We know that, like any skill, deliberately planned practise is essential to mastery and in the EYFS in particular, developing social and emotional behaviours is key to success in more academic learning. As children move from the nursery to reception, there is a growing interconnectedness between prime and specific areas that gives children the opportunity to master key concepts through a range of contexts. Therefore, we ensure that the prime areas permeate all aspects of learning. As the prime areas become ever more embedded into the children’s long-term memories, this then further supports mastery of the key literacy and mathematical concepts needed to be ready to access the curriculum in year 1.
We believe in equitability for all children - that all children have the right to access our full curriculum and the experiences that come with this. Our exploration model means that, through formative assessment, any children who need extra input are given an ‘enabling environment’ and skilled adults ‘meet them in their play’ to meet their specific learning needs, so that interventions are kept to a minimum. Adults are attuned to the needs of all learners and use high quality dialogue to support their learning within the setting. This ensures that no pupil misses out on any crucial curriculum content as experiencing this, and the opportunities for children to make their own choices, is a key part of developing and deepening children's understanding of the world around them.
Our curriculum is knowledge rich, ensuring that children learn many discrete items, enabling them to connect ideas, form opinions, make decisions and think critically. Key learning is extended through ‘topic book baskets’ which deliberately give children an opportunity to rediscover what they have already learned in a variety of contexts where skills and knowledge can be further applied. Teachers also ensure that the taught curriculum builds on children’s knowledge from their home and communities. Our curriculum planning is underpinned by the ‘Principles of Learning’ which support teachers to ensure that the knowledge they teach results in changes in the children’s long-term memory.