The Foundation Stage
Children in Little Bears (Nursery) and Big Bears (Reception) access the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. These are a set of standards for the learning, development and care of your child from birth to 5 years old. Children engage in learning through first hand experiences that foster investigation and enquiry. The EYFS curriculum is made up of 7 areas of learning: 3 prime and 4 specific.
The prime areas of the EYFS are: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development is vital in the Foundation Stage. Through every day learning, we support the children in making strong relationships with their peers and familiar adults and encourage them to become confident and independent young people. At all times, adults support and model appropriate behaviour to promote positive relationships within the classroom; this is in reinforced during circle times and small group activities. The children are encouraged to recognise and celebrate personal achievements, however small, and those of their peers. Each class has a reward system in place that celebrates the small but significant steps along a child’s personal foundation stage journey.
To promote a rich and varied vocabulary, we provide a language rich environment, which gives opportunities for children to experience new and imaginative vocabulary. We plan specific activities to upscale the children’s vocabulary which is illustrated daily through book sharing, role-play, child initiated activities and when using the outdoor area. Specifically in Little Bears the children have daily opportunities to expand their language through the use of a language rich environment, where the children are immersed in high quality language linking to various topics and interests. Key worker sessions happen daily, this is where children share learning and experiences, accessing opportunities to develop their use of language.
To further deepen the understanding of children’s learning, staff in Foundation stage use questioning to allow children to talk about their experiences and to extend children’s thinking. The use of questioning also encourage children to use a wider range of vocabulary to form longer, more complex sentences. Where children have limited vocabulary and struggle to answer questions, adults will scaffold appropriate responses to allow all children to respond.
Physical Development, is a fundamentally important skill which underpins all aspects of children’s early experiences. If children learn to move with control and coordination; to balance and climb; to move with agility and self-expression they are likely to be more successful learners throughout their school lives. When you come into EYFS, don’t be surprised if you are asked to join in with our daily fine motor sessions. Children in Big Bears also have focused fine motor tasks in small groups before focused writing.
Our outdoor area is an extension of our indoor learning environment. This gives the children opportunities to climb, balance, and develop their gross motor skills by manoeuvring in and out of equipment. All children have a timetabled ‘wheeled’ session where they develop skills on scooters/ bikes/ balance bikes to promote gross motor development; continuous outdoor provision provides opportunities for motor skills sessions. Reception children also have weekly PE sessions with an external coach to further develop their physical and listening skills as well as teamwork.
The specific areas of the EYFS are: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design
The children in Foundation Stage have a ‘story rich’ environment, to allow them access to story structure and playing with rhyme. They are introduced to the story of the fortnight, which then enhances the areas of provision. All literacy input is then developed around the book, so that all children can fully immerse themselves in the story. Each week we become ‘Word Detectives’ and investigate the sounds within words, how to break them down in to their graphemes and phonemes and then blend them back together. We also have ‘Word of the Day’, which is taken from a story of the fortnight, which the children read, explore the meaning in context and then put into a sentence.
Children in Foundation Stage access daily phonics sessions through Letters and Sounds, where they learn to articulate pure letter sounds through a range of multisensory activities.
As the year progresses, Little Bears will start to take picture books home, Big Bears move on to phonetically decodable books and apply their phonic skills when accessing continuous provision through reading labels, captions, instructions and other text in the environment.
Children if Little Bears are supported in developing ‘pre-writing’ skills by exercising and strengthening their fingers in activities including cutting and sticking, pouring, manipulating playdough, using tweezers etc.
Foundation Stage do a weekly Dough Disco sessions where children manipulate playdough to music, this further develops fine motor skills and strength required for good hand control.
Mark making is the next step towards successful early writing. Children are encouraged to use a variety of different writing materials on a variety of scales. This could be writing on a post it note or making gigantic marks on the playground; it could be using brushes or magic wands.
The importance of this mark making practice is to embed fluent movement which will eventually lead to forming recognisable letters. In addition to this daily practice, there are finger gym activities throughout the provision and purposeful writing in each learning environment.
By the end of the Foundation Stage, many children can write short, simple sentences independently and read simple words and sentences.
Early maths is taught through games, song and exploration. In Little Bears we concentrate on the language of maths through child initiated play, simple challenges, questioning and stories. In addition, we deliver a daily maths session to consolidate and extend learning concepts.
In Big Bears, we build on the children’s early experiences through a mastery approach to maths, which encourages children to use manipulative resources, like cubes and counters, to solve a range of problems. We ensure that children are fluent with: counting, ordering, adding and subtracting, doubling, halving and sharing before we challenge them to use their reasoning and problem-solving skills. Children also explore 2d and 3d shapes, measuring equipment and start to use the language for a range of mathematical concepts like time and money. We also take part in daily maths sessions, both whole class and focused activities.
Understanding the World
In Understanding the World, children are encouraged to be curious and explore natural materials and learn about living things and compare different places. Our topics are chosen carefully, to exploit the children’s own experiences and interests which are vast and varied. They learn about technology, using computers and programmable toys and the wider application of technology in everyday life. Moreover, they learn about people and communities, including the local area; how they are different or similar to their friends and they learn about and celebrate other cultures. Big Bears access termly sessions with the local Priest to learn about the Bible and diversity in the local community.
Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)
EAD is a fundamental area to develop in Early Years as it gives the children the foundations to underpin their own identity and enables them to develop self-expression and self-confidence.
We plan opportunities for art to be developed in the outdoor provision as well as using the immersive suite to help stimulate ideas. This gives the children the opportunity to create art on a large scale which will allow further development of the vital core gross and motor skills.
Children are given the opportunity to use their skills imaginatively in Expressive Arts and Design. They are given the opportunity to explore and use media and materials such as paint, clay and construction equipment. Children are also encouraged to be imaginative in areas such as role-play, art and dance as part of the continuous provision. In EYFS, we also learn about different artists and create our own interpretation of their work. Both classes enjoy taking part in a weekly music session which explores rhyme, rhythm and patterns.
Children in the Foundation Stage engage in high quality learning experiences both indoors and outdoors. Their learning and progress is tracked through observations, photographs and videos on the online learning journey, Tapestry.
This year, we will be holding ‘Open Classroom’ sessions for parents/carers focusing on phonics, reading, writing and maths.
See our class pages to find out more about the daily routine for F1 and F2.
Key Stage One and Two
Throughout Years 1 to 6, teaching and learning is focused around the National Curriculum. Teachers work together to create interesting themes which are based around Geography, History, Science and RE, which use a wide range of resources to motivate and engage the children. The lessons are used to teach basic skills within a context and are linked across all the subjects. These lessons are taught on a rolling basis and are carefully integrated to ensure there is a relationship within each subject. Teachers’ plan together sharing ideas, knowledge, interest and enthusiasm to ensure an exciting curriculum which is continually planned for progression. The curriculum means that children are encouraged to think creatively, take responsibility for their learning and enhance their understanding through questioning. They are then able to assess their own and each other’s learning, which creates a deeper understanding.
PE and Sports
The school is very fortunate in having good outside facilities for P. E. and games. The school also possesses a large playing field, which is used for a range of sports along with the hall. All the children participate in Sports Day on the school field, taking part in many different activities. There will be opportunities for as many children as possible to represent the school at various sporting tournaments and competitions in the local area.
For every child to experience high quality teaching and learning through the PE curriculum. To be active, engaged and challenged in their learning showing progression as well as developing leadership qualities and coaching skills.
Every child should have the opportunity to experience a variety of sports and activities in and outside of the curriculum, also allowing children the chance to compete.
Children at The Vale Primary Academy will develop a lifelong enjoyment for sport and physical activity as well as an understanding of how to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
It is the school’s aim, in line with National Curriculum requirements, to have all children able to swim 25 metres by the end of their primary years. In Year 4, children who are not at the required level attend weekly swimming lessons at Pontefract Swimming Baths.
Our curriculum for computing has been developed to equip children with the foundational skills, knowledge and understanding of computing they will need for the rest of their lives. Through the computing curriculum, they learn how computers and computer systems work; they design and build programs, develop their ideas using technology and create a range of content. Computing is taught as a discreet subject in order to expose children to language used in programming and computer science. Where possible, we try to make cross curricular links so children are taught researching, formatting and word processing skills.
Children learn French in KS2. As well as learning to read, speak, listen to and write in French, children also learn about the culture and customs in France and compare it to their own.
Our aim is to ensure that all our pupils become caring, concerned citizens. As well as this being embedded in the way that staff and children interact, we also consolidate this through regular themed assemblies and themed weeks and days. Making links explicit across the curriculum, we give our children the skills and confidence to make a positive contribution to their communities. We explore British values and learn about how our society works so they can take their full part in it.
Relationship and Sex Education
As an academy, we believe for Sex and Relationship Education to be effective, it needs to start early so that children learn to talk about feelings and relationships and are prepared for puberty before it happens to them. We feel it is vitally important that children learn about the safety and risks in relationships. Where appropriate, we also seek advice and support from medical professionals.