Golborne and Maxilla provides a broad and balanced curriculum which enables children to make their best possible progress towards the Early Years Foundation Stage learning goals and beyond.
The Early Learning Goals set out what most children are expected to achieve by the end of the reception year, and they establish expectations for children, but are not curriculum in themselves. We provide a range of on-going activities and, of course, take account of children’s own interests in order for them to reach these goals.
Above all we value and respect individuality. All our children are different – they come from different backgrounds, they are interested in different things and they learn in different ways.
We design our learning around this principle, whilst ensuring that our children have the opportunity to play and learn in a wide variety of safe environments including indoors, water play, outside play and imaginative play. A wide range of activities is provided for the children and this encourages them to develop as independent learners. Staff work with the children helping them develop their skills and challenging their thinking.
Each term we have a theme, which covers the different aspects of learning. On a weekly basis we plan both from the theme and from children’s current interests as well as identifying experiences that may particularly benefit individual children.
Young children learn through play and we aim to facilitate this in as many different stimulating and fun settings as we can. We provide a balance between ‘focus activities’ involving planned, structured play and child initiated play.
We aim to meet the needs of the widest possible range of children, supporting children with special educational needs, ensuring that our curriculum matches their individual needs and assisting every child to achieve their full potential. At the beginning of each theme, we give children and their families a homework sheet so that we can find out more about their prior knowledge and experiences of the topic, and what they would like to learn more about. This ensures we can include our children’s interests in our planning. Home learning activities are ongoing through the year with children having access to our weekly ‘book loan’ and ‘maths games loan’ service. We also foster links between home and school learning with activities around a ‘sound/letter’ of the week, ‘song of the week’ and regular workshops for families linked to areas of learning.
“Children become deeply involved in their learning and concentrate for long periods of time”. “The quality of teaching is outstanding…” “Teachers plan sessions very carefully and the school is a hive of purposeful activity”. “Achievement is outstanding and children make excellent progress to develop skills that are at least in line with those typically found for their age….” “the curriculum is exciting and varied”. “Opportunities to learn in a woodland setting, do much to promote children’s learning and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development”. Ofsted March 2015.
We have seven key areas of focus:
Communication and language
We plan for and provide a rich language environment across the whole centre. We help our children develop their speaking and listening skills. Golborne and Maxilla children learn to listen in large and small groups. They also learn to talk to adults and to other children, to express their feelings and describe their experiences, using language confidently. Role playing allows children to use their language creatively. Once a term we hold speaking and listening workshops for children and their families.
We want to help our children gain control and coordination of their movements, and we provide many opportunities to develop this using a range of small and large equipment, indoors and outdoors. We have a fantastic, well-resourced outdoor space for our children to develop their climbing, their balancing and their awareness of physical space. We help children develop an understanding football, fitness week. Through preparing food together we encourage children to make healthy choices in relation to food. We encourage walking to school and learning about road safety – including safe use of scooters! We support parents understanding of the value of early mark making through mark making workshops.
Personal, social and emotional development
We want to foster children’s love of learning. We want them to be interested, excited and motivated to learn and to be proud of their achievements. Golborne and Maxilla children participate in a range of experiences and activities, allowing them to explore, investigate, try things out and develop skills in asking questions. They develop concentration and persistence by working independently and as part of groups. They learn how to take turns, share and how to express their feelings and develop control of their emotions. We encourage our children to become independent – the ability to do things for themselves promotes a positive self-image.
Our children learn to enjoy stories, rhymes, songs and books. They learn how to turn pages and how to retell a story from pictures. They begin to recognise meaningful words and enjoy our daily sessions focussing on different aspects of reading. Our children learn about linking sounds to letters through the ‘sound of the week’, and we run ‘ready to read workshops’ for our older children. Our children learn how to write by using a range of marks in order to communicate meaning and we help to provide a model of writing for a purpose.
We promote early mathematical awareness and development of thinking skills for all our children. They are encouraged to explore shape, size and weight in practical situations and to use mathematical language to communicate their work. They enjoy developing skills in patterns and are encouraged to develop awareness of mathematical problems and thinking and begin to offer solutions. Maths is fun using number rhymes and songs, and our children learn to recognise and use numbers, develop counting and early addition and subtraction skills. We hold regular parent maths workshops for children and their families.
Understanding the world
Our children are encouraged to talk about their families and important events in their lives and share them with their friends. We explore our local community and talk about what they observe. Our children attend Forest School, Forest School is an approach to outdoor learning; it provides children with a valuable opportunity to learn about the natural environment through play. During these positive outdoor experiences children learn how to handle risk and to use their own problem solving skills. They build self-esteem and grow in confidence. Cooking, planting, growing and observation of mini-beasts provide opportunities for us to look at similarities and differences, pattern and change and ask questions about how things work and what is happening. We use a wide range of tools and materials in design technology and use information technology to support learning – we have a great array of technology to support us, including Smartboards and PCs in every classroom. We celebrate cultural and religious festivals which are important to our children, including Easter, Eid, Diwali and Christmas, which enables children to develop an awareness of their own culture and beliefs.
Expressive arts and design
We aim to foster the development of individuality and creativity in Golborne and Maxilla children. We encourage the use of imagination, song and dance and children learn to explore sound and movement. Using their senses, they respond to what they see, smell and touch and through role play use their imagination and develop their own stories. Celebration of music is further explored by looking at music from different cultures – for example we may celebrate Diwali by inviting Bollywood dancers and Black History month through Abundance Arts. Some of our children’s artwork is exhibited at Leighton House each year.
In planning and guiding children’s experiences, staff always reflect upon the different ways children that learn and reflect these in practice. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:
Playing and having a go
Children investigate and experience things and ‘have a go’
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