The EYFS Curriculum at Houghton Primary School
EYFS – The starting point of our curriculum
Our school key drivers* sit behind our EYFS curriculum content, tailoring teaching and learning specifically to the needs of the children at Houghton Primary.
Our children are happy. They are excited and motivated to learn through rich and challenging learning experiences; opportunities to explore and take risks, and first-hand experiences. Every day, we provide opportunities for children to come together to share their experiences, learn and have fun.
We have high ambitions for all our children and recognise that children have different starting points to their learning. We plan according to children’s stage of development so all can thrive and develop. We aim for children to be well-rounded individuals who are independent, resilient, and confident in themselves and with others, ready to move into Year 1 and the National Curriculum.
Our EYFS Curriculum has been designed to reflect our beautiful environment, the seasons of the year and the nature around our school. It aims to teach the children how their environment compares to other places, cultures and nature in other parts of the world. It is therefore unique to Houghton Primary school. We place a large emphasis on caring for our environment and teaching the youngest children in school about climate change and global issues and how we can all play an important part in looking after the planet.
To foster a passion for both the local and global environment and take responsibility for its care.
Each topic planned is included in the curriculum for specific reasons and we want to ensure that all children leaving the Reception Year are ready to start the Houghton KS1 curriculum. Each topic does not last a specific amount of time but is based on the children’s learning at the time, and so a topic can run from anything between two and seven weeks. All the topics have resources and activities ready to use in the enhanced provision. Topics are introduced with a good quality storybook or age appropriate non – fiction text. Using books in this way teaches children that books and reading form the basis of our learning.
Our ambitious Early Year’s curriculum aims to teach all children the skills and knowledge in order to reach the seventeen Early Learning Goals described in the Early Years Foundation Stage. We teach through a range of teaching methods including child-initiated learning, whole class teaching, group teaching, investigations and problem solving together, and independently. As many activities as possible are play-based; however, there is also a need for direct adult-led activities to ensure children gain essential knowledge and skills from the adults they work with. Activities are expertly modelled, and children are given sufficient time, support and resources to repeat and practise them.
Personal Social and Emotional Development
We strive to enable children to be safe, happy, confident individuals. We also encourage self-regulation as much as possible and introduce rules and boundaries through modelling good behaviour and reflection time. We introduce the children to our Golden School ethos as a basis for our approach to managing behaviour. We teach the children 6 Golden Rules, which are in place to secure our Golden School. We spend time teaching the children about the Golden Rules so that they understand what each rule means, what it looks like when people follow it and why it is important to keep it.
To see ourselves as an integral part of the local, national and global community.
These values underpin our whole curriculum and teaching style throughout the Reception year. These values then follow on throughout the school.
To support our children in developing more independence and the opportunity to show initiative.
To place speech and communication at the heart of our curriculum enabling our children to speak confidently, appropriately and sensitively, learning through talk and deepening understanding through dialogue.
Communication and Language
Children are encouraged to listen and communicate appropriately. We enhance the classroom and outdoor area to reflect the topic learnt. Each topic encompasses enhancements to the learning environment that include role-play resources, smallworld play in the collections area and story-making spaces to encourage the children to act out scenarios and discuss concepts being learnt. This helps children learn and use new vocabulary introduced through the topics. Ambitious vocabulary is encouraged through our ‘Posh Words’ display, which we build up and refer to throughout the year.
Children are encouraged to ask questions and contribute to whole-class and group discussion whenever possible. The children’s questions often form the basis of our next steps planning.
Children who struggle to communicate are targeted in the provision and learning interventions are used when children lack confidence or do not have the age-appropriate skills.
Our outdoor environment and spacious grounds enable us to make the most of the outdoors and we encourage children to play outside as much as possible. Our intention is that children learn how to take measured risks and they are given regular access to our whole playground and woodland area. We encourage children to learn about nature and look after their environment through regular walks.
To encourage our children to learn to assess and manage risks by having fun and stepping outside their comfort zones
There is a well-established and comprehensive PE curriculum, which includes multi-skills games, Dance (Let’s Move), Gymnastics and yoga. Children are taught about the importance of regular exercise and healthy eating, and are encouraged to join in with whole-school sports initiatives such as the Daily Mile and sponsored mini marathon events.
We aim to teach children to read and develop a love of books as soon as they arrive at Houghton Primary School, and books are used to teach topics and to enhance our whole curriculum.
We follow a systematic approach to phonics teaching based on Letters and Sounds. Phonics lessons are taught daily. In addition to daily phonics, children take part in guided reading weekly, either in small groups or individually. Reading books are based on the phonics phase being taught. A short phonics task is taken home every week. Children are also encouraged to take home age-appropriate picture books from the class library and books in the library are changed each half-term to reflect the different seasons, topics taught and children’s interests. Teachers read stories to children from high quality ageappropriate texts at every available opportunity. These books are then used to enhance the learning environment. Children who need extra help with phonics are targeted in the provision by key members of staff. Each morning, a phonics activity is set up in continuous provision with individual children’s next steps in mind. Those children who need extra teaching are encouraged to the activity with a member of staff who facilitates a short teaching session each day.
We introduce writing straight away, and teach handwriting alongside the letters and sounds curriculum. However, we allow children to develop at their own pace and we believe that the ‘building blocks of writing’ need to be in place before children are able to write. Children are taught a pre-cursive style. Depending on their individual ability, children are then taught to join letters as digraphs are introduced in phonics lessons. Guided writing activities are also taught in groups. These include writing topic words, lists, captions and short narratives. Guided writing activities are based on the topic being taught and the class book is often used as a basis for writing. Children are also encouraged to write in the provision in role-play activities, writing outdoors, maths jottings and construction. The children are provided with a range of pencils, pens, and other media to encourage them to write as much as possible. We hope to inspire children to write independently after they have been introduced to writing skills in their guided writing sessions.
Children are taught maths through guided group work and whole-class activities. We also use maths enhancement activities in the different areas in the classroom, including the outdoors. One of the main aims of the maths curriculum is to teach children to be able to subitise numbers to ten automatically as soon as possible. We begin by concentrating on numbers to ten in the first term, with the aim that children have a better understanding of one digit numbers before they move on to place value, calculation and arithmetic later in the year. Children also learn shape, space and measure skills and knowledge through guided work and as activities in the enhanced provision. The first term’s topic introduces all the basic shapes and we feel introduces mathematical concepts to the children from the very start of their learning with us. Children who need extra help with mathematics are targeted in the provision by key members of staff. Each morning a maths activity is set up in continuous provision with certain children’s next steps in mind.
Knowledge and Understanding of the World
We strive to give children knowledge about the world around them in Houghton and the rest of the world. Science is taught through most of our topics. For example, we observe ice in our topic, A Winter’s Tale and investigate how ice melts and forms through real hands-on experiences. We are extremely fortunate to have the river, meadows and National Trust mill on our doorstep and we regularly take the children for walks to these areas.
To encourage our children to be inquisitive, to ask questions and be resourceful. Our children will be persistent and independent in their learning.
Staff are very knowledgeable about local wildlife and plant species, and endeavour to pass this knowledge on to children at every opportunity. Our Life Cycle topic links particularly well to our nature walks, and we include frogspawn and butterfly hatching as well as stick insects in our classroom so that children are encouraged to see nature changing over time.
Geography is taught, including maps and countries of the world, through our Celebrations and wider world topics such as Handa’s Surprise, Elephants and Hot & Cold.
Similarly, we introduce the children to history learning through our Good to be Me topic, Old Bear and Where we live topics. For example, we explore how we have changed since we were babies, we look at old and new toys and how toys have changed over time and we discover some of the oldest buildings in and around our village.
We teach RE throughout the year based on celebrations including Diwali, Eid, Christmas and Easter so that children are introduced to different belief systems. We follow the whole school RE Scheme; Discovery RE.
To develop our children’s appreciation and understanding of a variety of cultures and lifestyles, engendering equality and challenging bias
Expressive Arts and Design
There is a rich tradition at Houghton Primary of developing children as artists. In art, the children are taught how to safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function. We study artists and experience working in different styles such as Kandinski’s Circles when introducing shape and colour and the work of Peter Thorpe in our Space topic. Child-initiated art activities are encouraged during continuous provision as well as art and crafts being taught by the staff. We endeavour that children leave Reception with comprehensive art skills, as well as encouraging them to use their own ideas and techniques in their art and design work.
We provide weekly opportunities for music, dance and drama. We want children to sing songs, make music, dance and perform. We have regular music and dance sessions and children are given time to play imaginative games and make up stories, songs and dances.
We work hard to ensure the children are ready for the National Curriculum by the end of the Reception year.