Balksbury Federation Curriculum
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for learning, development and care up until the age of 5 years old. At Balksbury Federation in our children’s first year, the year in which children turn 5, we follow the EYFS Profile. Throughout this year, children explore, develop and learn in an engaging indoor and outdoor environment.
Early Years learning concentrates on seven areas split between prime and specific areas of learning.
The prime areas of learning are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
The specific areas of learning are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
Learning through play is one of the key principles of Early Years education and we embrace this fully whilst providing structure and content through teacher lead activities and interventions.
Characteristics of Effective Learning
In Year R we develop the individual learning characteristics of children. We observe how children respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment. The focus of the Characteristics of Effective Learning, is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. The three characteristics of effective teaching and learning identified by the EYFS are:
- Playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
- Active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
- Creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
Children will work their way through the characteristics throughout the year and will move towards the end of their time in Year R by being able to think critically and creatively.
Here at Balksbury Federation we use the Government Scheme Letters and Sounds to teach phonics; this is coupled with ‘Cued Articulation’ to help embed children’s sounds using a visual and kinaesthetic hand action. The hand movements are logical – each hand movement represents one sound and the cue gives clues as to how and where the sound is produced.
Letters and Sounds has a six phase programme designed to build children’s speaking and listening skills as well as prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.
Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
At Balksbury Federation, our aim is to provide our children with an engaging, exciting and empowering curriculum that equips them for today and tomorrow.
Knowledge underpins and enables the application of skill. We strive for children to learn knowledge and skill ensuring that both are explicitly developed and underpinned by our Learning Values of Perseverance, Respect and Collaboration.
Our curriculum is built up of four core keystones.
Key Stone 1: Engagement
Key Stone 2: Developing Knowledge and Skills
Key Stone 3: Innovation
Key Stone 4: Expression
Engagement: We want all our children to have a good start to what they are learning so it is important to us to use hooks, real life experiences, creativity and enriched texts. It is our intention to provide memorable moments and experiences to allow creativity for our children to reach their full potential.
Developing Knowledge and Skills: Our children will gain valuable knowledge about the area they are learning coupled with relevant skills to develop a deep understanding. Through this keystone we want our children to:
- Research their own questions
Innovation: Our curriculum offers creative experiences that allow children to apply their knowledge, skills and understanding. Children will:
- Apply knowledge and skills in real life contexts
- Solve problems
- Experience creative activities
Expression: Our curriculum provides the time to celebrate learning, reflect and evaluate. We want our children to become experts and informers of what they have learnt so we will provide the opportunities to share and reflect.
Through our keystones we will as our Vision states: ‘provide rich and varied learning experiences as children move on their journey from Year R to Year 6’. For example, we believe that our curriculum is not confined to our classrooms and will ensure that children’s imagination are extended to learning without walls, whether that be within our federated grounds, or an offsite learning experience.
Our curriculum is arranged into units that are discrete but are also crossed linked where appropriate to other areas of the curriculum. Teachers plan for sessions, or a group of blocked sessions that ensure coverage and progression that fosters children’s curiosity. At Balksbury Federation we follow the National Curriculum requirements but provide other opportunities and experiences. Our extracurricular activities support an enrich experience and develop specialist skills. Throughout our curriculum we engender a sense of personal pride in achievement which is embedded within our Code of Conduct.
Ensuring children are safe and secure within all that we do is our first priority and safety within the curriculum is important to us. We want our children to enjoy their learning so our curriculum promotes achievement, confidence and good behaviour. Teachers plan high quality visits and visitors to enhance learning and provide opportunities for writing with a purpose.
It is vitally important to us that our children have time to share their learning with their parents and carers, and with other learners through school based activities. We strongly believe that this develops independence and motivation as learners and builds their sense of responsibility as future citizens so is at the heart of all our teaching and learning. Innovative practice across the federation provides a strong foundation for children to collaborate and develop social skills both indoors and outdoors and we believe that learning doesn’t always have to have walls around it.
Subject Leaders play an important part in success of the curriculum by leading a programme of monitoring, evaluation and review, alongside celebrating good practice that contributes to the ongoing commitment of evolution and improvement here at Balksbury Federation. Pupil voice is crucial, and teachers listen to our children’s evaluation of what has been delivered. Leaders will also ensure that pupil voice supports change within our future curriculum - we are committed to changing what children do not feel we do well. Where children need support, targeted and proven interventions will be used to help them achieve.
How Does Our Curriculum Fit Together?
At Balksbury Federation, we believe that education is a powerful gift and is ours to give. We are committed to delivering inspirational teaching that develops well rounded and responsible individuals who aspire to achieve their full potential. Throughout the federation, we respect and value each child. Providing a safe, secure and welcoming learning environment, we will ensure that children gain a wealth of educational experiences as they move on their journey from Year R to Year 6.
Within our learning environment we teach our children to persevere in doing something, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. In the words of Stephen Hawking, we want our children to:
‘Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.’
Our children are encouraged to welcome challenge and have self-belief. We want them to say:
‘I may not be there yet but I am closer than I was yesterday.
We strongly believe that respect is a two way process and this is built into our Code of Conduct. It is vital that our children embrace respect of differences and, other people’s views and opinions. It is our belief that respect distinguishes from right and wrong, values all, and is a vital moral component of our federated community.
We strongly believe that by working together with others, children are enabled to solve future problems. Our curriculum fosters opportunities for children to collaborate. Through this, children build self esteem, positive attitudes and see others’ point of view.
Key Stone 1
Key Stone 2
Developing Knowledge and Skills
Key Stone 3
Key Stone 4
At the heart of our curriculum are the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science. Our wider curriculum covers National Curriculum objectives and is organised into four keystones. All our curriculum units provide new ways of engaging children into the topic being studied and embeds skills to deepen understanding and allows children to apply their knowledge learnt. Throughout children’s learning, we want them to reflect and evaluate in order to become experts and informers so we provide opportunities to share and reflect.
From relative starting points, children as Balksbury citizens will make progress academically, socially, emotionally, physically and creatively. They will transit successfully into the next phase of their education with confidence. Our learning values will underpin all that children do and provide them the necessary attributes to tackle new challenges. Our children will communicate with clarity, confidence and conviction in all the curriculum subjects they learn. Through our curriculum all our children will have had the opportunity to communicate respectful, inclusive attitudes and behaviours towards others.
Balksbury assessment model uses a range of assessment strategies to assess children’s learning including summative, formative and qualitative. Summative assessment will capture progress at key points throughout the curriculum, is subject specific and lead to adapted planning for next steps. Formative assessment is ongoing across all subjects with teachers providing feedback opportunities day by day and week by week. Qualitative assessment will aid capturing progress across the breadth of the curriculum via observation, discussion and feedback from others