At Our Lady and St. Joseph’s our vision is to provide a curriculum which is designed to: enable every pupil to live life to the full; be well equipped to serve the world as active citizens; provide an outdoor approach based on the principles of Forest School; foster in each child the need to care for our earth as well as each other, as we search faithfully for excellence.
At Our Lady and St Joseph’s School, we aim to lay a secure foundation to enable children to learn more and remember more. We engage children in learning from the very first day they start with us.
Our school motto is ‘searching faithfully for excellence’ and that is exactly what we strive for our children to achieve. Children are encouraged to search for excellence in all that they do and our enthusiastic and experienced staff will guide your child to search for excellence within a loving and caring environment.
We acknowledge that all children learn and develop at different rates and that by providing children with a variety of different learning opportunities, we can enable children to reach their full potential.
We expect children to leave Foundation Stage as happy, confident and skilful communicators who are curious about the world around them.
At Our Lady and St. Joseph’s, our curriculum follows the Early Years Statutory Framework and uses the Development Matters (2021) as a starting point, with an emphasis on developing key skills, knowledge and understanding. The framework sets out the requirement for learning and development within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and focuses on prime and specific areas.
These are broken down into the 7 areas of the EYFS curriculum:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Art and Design
Our Foundation Stage curriculum is planned as a sequence of carefully planned topics designed to provide inspiration for learning and lay the foundation for future learning in KS1 and KS2. Each topic has weekly enquiry questions that are carefully selected and planned for. These questions are designed to promote children’s natural curiosity and are fantastic conversation starters.
High-quality texts are chosen carefully for their vocabulary choices and to compliment the weekly Topic teaching. The text is then left in Continuous Provision for the children to return to during free-flow. Each Topic has its own Knowledge Organiser which details the substantive knowledge (facts) and disciplinary knowledge (skills) we would expect the children to know at the end of the Topic, along with the texts we are using and the Star Words we want the children to learn. Star Words are words that children may not hear often, with them not being commonly used in conversation. They are words that are directly linked to the Topic we are teaching and as such, making them ideal for direct teaching.
Alongside the planned topics, we provide the flexibility for children to explore their own interests. We recognise the changing needs and interests of our children and we are responsive to this.
The timetable is carefully structured to allow the balance between teacher-led learning and child-initiated activities. The timetable changes throughout the year to accommodate the ever-changing needs of our children and so they are prepared for the next stage of learning.
READING IS AT THE HEART OF OUR CURRICULUM and we aim to encourage a love of reading from the very beginning. At Our Lady and St. Joseph’s we believe it is the entitlement of every child to read for pleasure and we are proactive towards achieving this. Book talk is encouraged at all times. Staff get to know every child as a reader. Please see our Reading Web Page for further information.
High-quality key texts are chosen to ensure that children have access to a diverse range of books, including non-fiction texts. Our aim is that children see themselves reflected in the books we read and for them to have the opportunity to explore other perspectives. Reading is prioritised within Foundation Stage and we ensure that children are exposed to as many story sessions as we can manage! Each day we have: key texts for Literacy and Topic lessons, a ‘Reading for Pleasure’ story session before dinner, where the children are able to choose a story to be read and an end of the day story session in which 2 books are chosen by an adult and children are able to vote for one to be read. We deliver a daily 'talk through story’ session, which is a story that is read over two weeks. Children are encouraged to explore the story through drama activities, vocabulary choices and discussion around the choices of the characters.
At Our Lady and St. Joseph’s we use the Read Write Inc programme. Phonic sounds are introduced in a systematic manner and progress is monitored with children moving on at the correct pace and with the correct support for them. F1 children participate in short daily sessions, where they learn the sounds and do lots of oral blending. F2 children participate in a daily hour-long session, where they learn new sounds, practice reading words and write sentences. Please see our Read Write Inc Web Page for further information.
A MATHS MASTERY approach is used across Foundation Stage. These sessions are carefully planned using concrete resources and build on prior learning and real-life experiences. This starts with mastering numbers 0-6, in F1, and then progresses through to 0-10 on F2. This develops a deep understanding of each number and develops mathematical thinking. Both F1 and F2 have daily Maths teaching and children are encouraged to apply their learning and consolidate their knowledge during free-flow, when they are accessing Continuous Provision.
Our WIDER CURRICULUM is taught through the learning areas ‘Understanding the World’ and ‘Expressive Arts and Design’. Children are encouraged to use subject specific language and terminology, and such vocabulary is modelled by all adults in Foundation Stage. Subject Leaders have input on all Topics taught to ensure a consistency across school. For how our Early Years Curriculum links to the National Curriculum, please click HERE
Our indoor and outdoor learning environments are planned to inspire the children to become confident and resilient learners. Within our Foundation Unit we have two classes: Foundation 1 and Foundation 2. We have two large classroom spaces that are partitioned to allow for separate class learning time and then opened to allow children to move freely during child-initiated times. We have a large outdoor area which allows for us to provide a Forest school approach and we take every opportunity to be outdoors.
Continuous provision is how we plan our learning environment. The purpose of continuous provision is "to continue the provision for learning in the absence of an adult". Each and every part of our learning environment has been carefully planned to meet and challenge and developmental needs of our children. While our learning environment changes regularly, children always have access to: construction, role-play, small world, art, junk-modelling, water and mark-making areas.
FOREST SCHOOL is a long-term approach to education that maximises the benefits of learning in the outdoors. As a Catholic school, we celebrate the wonders of creation. The Forest School approach at Our Lady and St. Joseph’s therefore is hugely important in the development of the whole child, the need to care for our earth as well as each other, and the opportunity for every child to have life to the full.
Alongside, and intertwined with our Gospel values, runs our curriculum. We recognise the outdoor environment as being a place to develop language and communication, physical skills as well as our learning behaviours of resilience, independence, teamwork, curiosity, responsibility and creativity. Many children are motivated simply by being outdoors. It is a valuable learning environment whose benefits, although perhaps not yet formally measured and proven, are obvious to those who spend time outdoors with children.
While we enjoy spending as much time outside as we possibly can, we do have a dedicated day to Forest School which is called ‘Outdoor Friday’. Children are able to experience traditional Forest School activities, such as making dens, nature walks and making things with clay and sticks. We are also extremely lucky to be able to have our very own fire circle, where children can sit and enjoy the roaring flames of the fire. Our ethos is that children will go outdoors whatever the weather (except very high winds) so they will need clothes that are suitable for the weather at any particular time of year. There is a slideshow of some of the highlights our outdoor area has to offer at the bottom of this page.
Through a robust evaluation of our learning environments and how children learn, our curriculum is designed to meet the needs of all of our children, including those with SEND. Every member of staff utilises ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s stage of development and to plan activities designed to ensure progression.
These are the tools we use that are designed to measure the impact of the EYFS Curriculum:
The RBA (Statutory Reception Baseline Assessment)
This assessment focuses on ‘Language, Communication and Literacy,’ and ‘Mathematics.’ The purpose of this is to show the progress children make from Reception until the end of KS2
NELI (Nuffield Early Language Intervention)
NELI is an evidence-based oral language intervention for children who show weakness in their oral language skills and who are therefore at risk of experiencing difficulty with reading. The assessment informs us if the child is at the expected level for their age or requires intervention from our trained NELI practitioner.
Phonic assessments are carried out every half term to quickly identify pupils that are not making expected progress. Our aim is for children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ where possible.
All ongoing observations are used to inform weekly planning and identify children’s next steps. We draw on own knowledge of the child and our own expert professional judgements through discussions within our Foundation team, photographs and physical examples such as a child’s drawing / making.
Assessments are completed three times per year and shared with the Senior Leadership Team as part of Pupil Progress. In addition, our Foundation team meet every half-term to discuss where children are working and how best to support progress. In Summer Term 2 of Foundation Stage 2, the EYFS Profile is completed. They will be assessed as either ‘emerging’ or ‘expected’ against each learning goal. Whilst there is no judgement to state if a child is exceeding beyond an ELG, teachers, have a duty to provide a narrative for both parents and the Year 1 teacher
We know that by the end of Foundation Stage, our children with have developed the essential knowledge and skills which will see them through the rest of their educational journey. We believe children transition to Year 1 as happy, inquisitive and successful learners who have a bright future ahead of them.
As we encourage children to ‘search faithfully for excellence’, we want children to feel proud of all their accomplishments during their time in Foundation Stage and know they can be successful in all that they do. We celebrate the outcomes during Topic work though their Topic books. This is where all Topic work is displayed and children are able to look back on their work and feel a sense of accomplishment. It also enables children to recall previous learning. These books are also regularly shared with parents/carers. We celebrate child-initiated work through the use of ‘Wow Boards’. Any artwork, models, writing that is completed by the children during free-flow is put on the Wow Boards for everyone to admire. The only limitation is their imagination!