At St Bernadette’s we recognise the importance of giving our children the best possible start to their education by planning and implementing teaching and learning opportunities that support them in reaching their full potential. We provide a fun and engaging curriculum and work with parents and families to prepare children well for Year One and beyond.
The Development Matters document along with the Foundation Stage Early Learning Goals set out expectations for children by the end of the Foundation Stage. It is our intention to provide, within the context of our school’s Mission Statement, a broadly enriched, creative and stimulating learning environment where children can work with adults and peers in a climate of mutual respect to develop;
At St Bernadette’s we recognise our learning environment as ‘the third teacher’. We aim to provide children with a welcoming, safe, carefully resourced learning environment, both indoors and outdoors, which encourages progression in children’s skills and knowledge from Pre-School to Reception class and beyond. This will enable them to develop the attitudes, understanding and characteristics of effective learning that will form the basis of lifelong learning and will provide the foundations needed for them to become useful, active members of a diverse and constantly changing society.
Currently we follow the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage which reflects the three prime areas and four specific areas of learning identified in the Early Learning Goals, all of which are equally valued at St Bernadette’s. However, this year 2020/2021 we have adopted the new Early Year’s Framework in preparation for when it becomes statutory for all schools in September 2021.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Self Regulation, Managing Self and Building Relationships; Self-confidence and self-awareness.
Communication and Language: Listening, Attention and Understanding.
Physical Development: Gross Motor Skills and Fine Motor Skills.
Literacy: Comprehension, Word Reading and Writing
Mathematics: Number; Numerical Patterns
Understanding the World: Past and Present, People, Culture and Communities, The Natural World
Expressive Arts and Design: Creating with Materials; Being imaginative and expressive.
Characteristics of Effective Learning
Underpinning these areas of learning are the Characteristics of Effective Learning which is how children learn:
Playing and Exploring - children being involved in open-ended hands-on experiences giving them the opportunity to explore ideas in imaginative ways and to develop a ‘can do’ attitude.
Active Learning - children demonstrating concentration, resilience, self-motivation and persistence.
Creating and Thinking Critically - children seeking challenge, thinking logically, problem solving, testing out their ideas and finding new ways to do things.
The Early Learning Goals provide the basis for planning throughout the Foundation Stage. We are ambitious in that we also incorporate additional skills and learning from the National Curriculum to support children ready for when they move to year one, e.g. using a range of Maths Resources in line with our School’s Maths Mastery Approach; encouraging children to use expression when reading during guided reading sessions.
In Reception Class, we recognise that children’s success in reading, writing and maths is strongly linked to secure development in the Prime areas of learning and we build on children’s prior learning in Pre-School. While children still have opportunities to learn through play, the routine becomes more structured as the year progresses. From the first weeks in Reception class children engage in daily phonics sessions (Reading/Writing), daily ‘snappy maths’ sessions, guided reading in small groups three times a week, and daily class stories. In Reception Class we also have daily Show and Tell sessions. These sessions help children to develop confidence speaking in front of others, their vocabularies and communication skills, questioning and answering skills.
Across the Foundation Stage we support the development of children’s positive behaviour and help children to learn to regulate their own behaviour by gently teaching them how to behave with others, what is acceptable behaviour, how to make friends and how to be kind. Our Early Years Golden Rules are ‘Share’, ‘Be a good friend’, ‘Kind hands’, ‘Work together’ and ‘Kind mouth’.
Phonics and Reading
At St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School we follow the systematic, synthetic Letters and Sounds Phonics Programme. In Reception Class children engage in phonics sessions on a daily basis where they are taught letter sounds, tricky words and high frequency words. A letter sound is taught each day and the children constantly recap the sound, read and write it.
Children have daily opportunities to access the outdoor environment which enables them to increase their levels of physical activity. The Early Years playground has been very carefully designed to support progression of children’s skills, for example, children develop gross motor movements, balance and coordination skills digging in the sand pit requiring them to use their physical strength and coordination while digging and transporting, as well as building problem solving skills. These gross motor movements support children’s fine motor skills, including using pencils for writing.
In Reception Class staff build on the skills children have developed in Pre-School, teaching children how to use the correct pencil grip and writing posture, and supporting children’s letter formation and letter size. By the end of Reception Class we aim for children to be able to use their phonic knowledge and writing skills to be able to independently write three or more short sentences in the cursive style.
In Early Years we have a clear progression of mathematical skills which we aim to teach in Reception class. Using the White Rose Scheme of learning that follows the Early Adopter Framework. We use concrete resources to provide secure learning which is implemented throughout the indoor/outdoor areas. Children are familiar with these resources such as Numicon which is used throughout the school as part of the Maths Curriculum.
In Early Years as part of our school mission, we promote British Values and teach the children to respect and celebrate differences through a range of activities such as learning about Chinese New Year and visiting a local Chinese restaurant, voting for which books we would like at story time, and learning to be kind and a good friend. From Reception Class to Year 6 children follow the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s curriculum strategy for RE ‘Learning and Growing as the People of God’.
In Reception Class, this includes learning about: bible stories; attending Mass; learning about our school’s values and virtues; and learning about a range of topics such as Creation, Christmas, People who help us, and Easter.
We promote cultural diversity and celebrate other cultures through themed weeks and multi-faith celebration days.
We use RHE Ten:Ten to promote self-regulation and managing behaviour through biblical teachings.
Teaching and Assessment
Throughout Reception as part of the learning and teaching process, children will be assessed in relation to their progress towards the Early Learning Goals. These judgements are made on the basis of observations and in depth knowledge of the children acquired through ongoing assessment. These ongoing assessments are used to inform planning and next steps in teaching and learning for all children throughout the year. In Early Years our assessments help us to identify when individual children need extra support, for example: learning how to hold a pencil correctly; learning to build friendships; support with speech and language. Activities are tailored to provide support for individual children, sharing strategies with parents. Our assessments also help to identify when children need further challenge and where appropriate provide a broad curriculum to learn at greater depth. End of year assessments are finalised during the Summer Term, summarising each child’s development at that point against the Early Learning Goals and Development Matters.
Working with Parents
Before starting Reception Class, families are invited to a Transition Session. Children get to meet their new Teacher and Teaching Assistant whilst parents have a tour of the school, a meeting with the Head Teacher and a talk on School procedures and routines including Scopay and the Lunchtime Banding System. Parents then go back to Reception Class for a play session and storytime with their child. Those parents and children wishing to stay for lunch will go into the School Hall. These sessions have proven to be very popular and a fabulous opportunity for children to meet their Teacher and Teaching Assistant and new friends before they start school, for us to find out about a child’s interests, and for Parents to find out and share any further information. Once children start Reception Class, parents are invited to Parents Evenings in the Autumn and Spring terms, and an Open Evening in the Summer term. Reception Class children also have homework linked to what they are learning in class.
We have a Homelink Books, Proud Clouds, Parent Voice – termly where parents can contribute towards their childs learning journey.
Transition to Year 1
In the Summer term children in Reception class begin their transition to Year 1. This includes a whole school transition day where they will spend the day in their new classroom with their new Teacher and Teaching Assistant.
Children at St. Bernadette’s are happy, inquisitive, engaged and successful learners who care for themselves and others. The majority of our pupils achieve a good level of development and are fully prepared for the next stage of their education as they transition from Foundation Stage to Year One.
We meet the legal requirements for:
At St. Bernadette’s we aim to provide a challenging, stimulating and ambitious curriculum that meets the needs of learners and reflects their individual interests. The Curriculum ensures that all children including SEN children and those that are disadvantaged are given the opportunities and experiences to develop their social, emotional and communication skills. The Curriculum is flexible to allow children to lead their learning and for teachers to facilitate this and use the child’s interests as teaching points. By creating a purposeful and creative environment children can become independent, confident and powerful learners. Our Catholic Ethos threads throughout the Curriculum embedding moral understanding and taking into account virtues and how we can help others less fortunate.