Early Years Curriculum
“Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right. Good parenting and high quality early learning together provide the foundation children need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.”
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) applies to children from birth to the end of their reception year. At Sir Francis Hill Primary School, all children begin attending school full time at the start of the school year in which they turn five this is called Reception. At the school we also have a Nursery where the children aged three and four years can attend.
Four guiding principles shape practice at Sir Francis Hill Primary School Early Years which are in line with the school’s aspirational vision, aims and values. These are:
- Every child is a Unique Child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
- Children learn to be strong and independent through Positive Relationships.
- Children learn and develop well in Enabling Environments with teaching and support from adults, who respond to their individual interests and needs and help them to build their learning over time. Children benefit from a strong partnership between practitioners and parents / carers.
- Children Learn and Develop in different ways and at different rates.
The Areas of Learning and Development
There are seven areas of learning and development in the EYFS curriculum that shape the educational programme at Sir Francis Hill Primary School. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. These areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. We offer the children a wide range of activities and experiences through the prime and specific areas of the EYFS curriculum.
Prime Area – Communication and language
Prime Area – Physical development
Prime Area – Personal, social and emotional development
Specific Area – Literacy
Specific Area – Mathematics
Specific Area – Understanding the world
Specific Area – Expressive arts and design
None of these areas of learning and development can be delivered in isolation from the others. They are equally important and depend on each other. All areas are delivered through a balance of adult led and child initiated activities. In each area there are Early Learning Goals that define the expectations for most children to reach by the end of the EYFS.
Our Early Years Long Term Plan and Topics
Cornerstones Curriculum Progression
At Sir Francis Hill Primary School within our Early Years provision, we follow the ‘Cornerstones Curriculum’ which is part of our whole school curriculum progression. The ‘Cornerstones Curriculum’ is based on inspirational learning activities which take place in a classroom environment that allows children to learn in a way that motivates and interests them. Cornerstones will provide our children with challenge, giving them opportunities to solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding across the whole curriculum from Nursery to Year 6.
The Early Years Cornerstones program is designed to enhance our Nursery and Reception children's skills and knowledge throughout the year through a series of projects. These projects are carefully crafted and sequenced to facilitate children's learning and development. They build on Early Years children developing knowledge in systematically way progressing and support them to prepare for moving to the Key Stage 1 National Curriculum at the start of Year 1.
One unique aspect of these projects is their seasonal nature, which allows children to delve into the changes that occur in their local environment throughout the year. As they progress through the projects, they gradually accumulate knowledge about seasonal variations.
During the Autumn term, the projects focus on familiar experiences and introduce children to their immediate surroundings. They explore themes such as ‘Me and My Community’, ‘Let's Explore’, and ‘Exploring Autumn’, which help them understand their local environment better.
In the Spring term, children revisit these themes and expand their knowledge. They continue to explore their local environment while also discovering contrasting environments in the UK, such as farms, allotments, or local parks. In projects like ‘Starry Night’, they explore the differences between day and night in their environment.
The Summer term provides another opportunity for children to revisit their local environment and observe changes that occur during this season. They also learn about diverse environments in the UK and the wider world through projects like ‘Big Wide World’, ‘Animal Safari’, and ‘On the Beach’.
The progression of learning through the projects can be likened to a target. The Autumn term represents the green area in the centre, where children begin with their own experiences and the local environment. The Spring term is like the yellow part, as children revisit and build upon their knowledge while also introducing a contrasting environment for learning. Finally, the Summer term corresponds to the outer red zone, where children continue to expand their knowledge and explore the wider world.
Throughout the projects, children's learning is anchored in their own experiences and contexts. The vocabulary introduced in the projects becomes more advanced as the year progresses, offering children increasingly challenging linguistic experiences. Additionally, the resources provided to children become more complex to reflect their developing phonics knowledge.
For more information about what is happening in our current Early Years classes please check out our Class Pages.