We use the “Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage” (DFE 2012) document to inform, plan and assess our curriculum. The Characteristics of Effective Learning underpin our pedagogy and are:
Playing and exploring – engagement, finding out and exploring, playing with what they know and being willing to ‘have a go’.
Active learning – motivation, being involved and concentrating, keeping trying and enjoying achieving what they set out to do.
Creating and Thinking Critically – thinking, having their own ideas, making links and choosing ways to do things.
The EYFS sets the standards that schools must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good progress through school and life.
The areas of learning and development are divided into seven areas. Three areas are particularly important for igniting children’s enthusiasm for learning. The 3 prime areas, considered essential for children’s healthy development and future learning are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
As children grow and develop, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
The curriculum is organised so that children learn through a combination of child and adult-directed activities.
At the end of Reception, the children will be assessed against the 17 Early Learning Goals and their progress will be shared with parents.
English is taught following the National Curriculum guidelines (September 2014)
Speaking and Listening: Speaking and Listening is at the heart of all literacy activities in our school; the curriculum is planned to engage learners through high quality drama and role play. There are opportunities for children to develop confidence and self-esteem and they are encouraged to adapt their speaking for different audiences.
Reading: We believe that children should think of themselves as readers from the very beginning, so they take books home from their first day in school.
Our Reading Scheme
The reading scheme we have at Christopher Reeves Primary begins in Foundation Stage with children being provided with books which link directly to the phase of Phonics that they are learning about. Children work through the phases in a particular order, gradually learning new sounds in a sequence of lessons. These sounds link to the children's writing, with children being taught to write the grapheme as they learn the sounds.
This is a very successful strategy which we complement by giving children books aimed at the phase they are working on. The books gradually increase in difficulty as the children increase their knowledge of phonics.The main school scheme is made up of many commercially purchased schemes, with a wide variety of text types, genres and a mixture of fiction and non-fiction.
Each child has an individual program to follow and is moved to the next colour band when they are ready.
We also provide all children with a library book to read alongside the reading scheme book. This is to give children the chance to choose their own books and also to give something for parents to share with children at home. It is very important that children are read to, to develop their knowledge of texts, vocabulary and to access stories and books which would be too hard for them to read to themselves.
Our reading scheme follows the 'Book Bands' system, which is widely used by Primary Schools to sort texts by their level of difficulty. The order of the colour bands is as follows: Lilac (non-word), Pink, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange, Turquoise, Purple, Gold, White, Lime.
At Christopher Reeves Primary School we follow the DfE 'Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics' which separates the phonics the children need to acquire into six Phases. A copy of the Letters and Sounds Publication is available to download on this page, this contains more detailed information.
This phase is largely linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile and the Communication, Language and Learning area of learning.
The areas covered by Phase 1 include:
- General Sound Discrimination - environmental sounds
- General Sound Discrimination - Instrumental sounds
- General Sound Discrimination - Body Percussion
- Rhythm and rhyme
- Voice Sounds
- Oral Blending and segmenting
This phase is started when children have experienced a wide variety of listening activities, including songs, stories and rhymes. This phase teaches 19 letters and moves children on from oral blending and segmenting to blending and segmenting with letters. Children will also be taught to read VC (Vowel/consonant words e.g. it) and CVC (Consonant, vowel, consonant words e.g. cat)
Children are also introduced to 2 syllable words and captions. This phase also includes a selection of 'tricky' words which are also called high frequency words and are not phonetically readable, meaning that children need to learn them off by heart.
Letter Progression in Phase 2:
Set 1: s, a, t, p Set 2: i, n, m, d Set 3: g, o, c, k Set 4: ck, e, u, r Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss
The purpose of this phase is to teach another 25 graphemes (written representations of a sound), most of them comprising of two letters e.g. oa. Children will also continue to practise CVC blending and segmentation, extend their learning by spelling two and multi-syllable words. Children will also learn the letter names during this phase and also an increased range of tricky words, (Including the First 100 High Frequency words) and moving to the next 200 when ready - both in sight reading and also spelling.
The Phase begins with:
Set 6: j, v, w, x Set 7: y, z, zz, qu
thin / then
boot / look
When children enter Phase 4 they should be able to represent each of the 42 phonemes by a grapheme and be able to blend phonemes to read CVC words and segment CVC words for spelling. This phase is one of consolidation and focuses on words which contain adjacent consonants and practising blending for reading and segmenting for spelling.
This is a short phase which does not introduce new sounds - at Christopher Reeves Primary, we teach Phase four alongside Phase 5 to ensure progression and challenge.
The purpose of this phase is for children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know. Children become quicker at recognising graphemes of more than one letter in words and at blending the phonemes they represent.
The aim of Phase 5 is to make automatic the reading of all words - decodable and tricky.
New Graphemes for Reading:
Alternative pronunciation of graphemes:
i (fin, find)
a (hat, what)
o (hot, cold)
y (yes, by, very)
c (cat, cent)
ch (chin, school, chef)
g (got, giant)
ou (out, shoulder, could, you)
u (but, put, south)
ow (cow, blow)
ie (tie, field)
ea (eat, bread)
er (farmer, her)
Children working at Phase 5 will also work on reading and spelling two-syllable and three-syllable words. The emphasis on spelling increases in Phase 5 in readiness for Phase 6 and increased standards / expectations in Year 2 when children are expected to be able to spell 'many' of the Common Exception words.
At this stage children will be reading much longer pieces and decoding at a much faster speed. Children will be reading automatically and using phonics more independently to decode. Children's spelling should be phonemically accurate although will still be unconventional at times.
The aim for Phase 6 is that children will become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.
At Christopher Reeves Primary, we teach Phase 6 to our able Year 1 children and then into Year 2 where the Phase 6 content combines with the National Curriculum guidelines for 'Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation' (SPaG)
Phase 6 includes:
- Past tense
- Investigating and learning to add suffixes (-ed, -ing, -er, -est, -ful, -ly and -y, -s, -es, -en, -ment, -ness)
- Teaching spelling of long words
- Finding and learning the difficult bits in words
- Learning and practising spellings - memory strategies
- Applying spelling in writing
- Knowledge of the spelling system
All children are heard read by their teacher at least once a week, often in a guided group reading session focusing on all aspects of reading including comprehension and inference skills. Class teachers read to the children regularly, and each class has a focus on a well-known childrens’ author which changes throughout the year. We believe that if children have access to a wide range of good quality children’s literature it helps them develop good comprehension, expands their vocabulary and fires the imagination, all of which supports them to be better writers. Children visit the school Library each week and are encouraged to take books home on loan.
Writing: Units of work are planned using the National Curriculum and linked, where possible, to topic based work that is relevant in each class. In addition, basic skills are taught discretely in every class (cursive (joined) handwriting, spelling, vocabulary and grammar).
The aims of the 2014 Maths Primary Curriculum ensure that all pupils;
- Become fluent in the fundamentals of Mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils have conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately
- Reason Mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalising and developing an argument, justification or proof using Mathematical language
- Can solve problems by applying their Mathematics to a variety of routine and non routine problems with increasing sophistication including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions
To achieve these aims, we follow a practical, investigative scheme of work which gives pupils the opportunity both to learn new skills and concepts and to apply these in problem solving situations. Lessons are planned to allow children to acquire new concepts and to consolidate these through practical investigative Mathematical activities that lead to real learning. Teachers and teaching assistants facilitate the children’s learning by supporting and extending their thinking through appropriate questioning.
Children learn to record their work in a way that is clear and appropriate to them. They are taught formal written calculation methods which are in line with the requirements of the Primary Curriculum 2014. (See revised Calculation Policy)
Alongside this, children learn and practise ‘basic skills’ in Mathematics such as times tables and number bonds.
Maths teaching ensures coverage of the objectives from each strand and providing opportunities to revisit and build upon previous learning. In our mixed age classes, teachers plan by linking similar objectives from the different year groups together. There is not an expectation that children will be taught from the curriculum of the following year group so provision is made, through challenging problem solving activities, to extend the learning of higher achieving children.
Programmes of Study
Children are taught to explore, observe, record, predict, question and test hypotheses through a variety of contexts, including Living Things, Materials and Physical Processes. Christopher Reeves is ideally situated for outdoor activities being surrounded by open countryside. We have an enclosed garden area with raised vegetable beds and a pond and there are facilities for observing wildlife around the school grounds.
Each classroom has an Interactive Whiteboard or Touchscreen and access to a mobile suite of 15 laptops and 15 iPads. Children are taught skills through a structured programme which is compliant with the National Curriculum Programme of Study, in which we focus on three areas: Computer Science (how digital systems work and how to design, write and debug simple programmes), Information Technology (how to use technology purposefully, using a variety of software) and Digital Literacy (using technology safely and respectfully). Computing is taught as an individual subject, however, wherever possible, the task is placed in the context of the Creative Curriculum Topic, Teachers will also incorporate the use of IT in other subjects, to enhance the learning and embed skills learned in Computing.
We are very mindful of the domination of the Internet and on-line gaming in children's lives. Both the Computing curriculum and the PSHE curriculum now contain ongoing focus on the safe use of technologies, ensuring pupils have structured and progressive learning to keep every child safe online. The school takes part in e-Safety Week and Internet Safety Day. Parents’ workshops are also scheduled regularly and supported by a range of services including Bedfordshire Police and Bedford Borough Council. The content of these sessions is updated regularly to reflect changes in technology and software.
Design Technology includes food technology, card and paper technology, woodwork and mouldable materials. The children are taught skills and techniques and then given opportunities to apply these skills in a broader context. Each year we hold a very popular Christmas Craft Morning where parents are invited to work with small groups and help the children make decorations for the Christmas tree.
History and Geography are taught through cross-curricular topics and are linked where possible to core subjects such as Literacy and ICT. The younger children begin by learning about events within living memory and about their own environment, later moving onto more abstract learning about people and places such as the Romans, Victorians and Europe. We have a link with a school in Ghana; children are involved in class-based activities and projects such as letter writing and making books about life in our country. These activities have really begun to raise an awareness of life beyond the local area. We believe that this is particularly important for our children who are growing up in an area that is populated in the main by people of white British origin.
Physical Education (P.E.)
We believe that physical activity is extremely important for the health and fitness of our children. PE should be a fun activity that the children can derive enjoyment from, and leading to a lifelong interest and involvement in sporting or fitness activities. Skills are taught progressively throughout the school. The children have lessons in Dance, gymnastics, games, swimming and outdoor adventurous activities. We also have a number of after school clubs. We collaborate with local providers to be able to offer a range of competitions and events for our children to take part in. Some of these activities are funded through the Government’s new Sports Premium funding and this funding has really allowed our small school to extend the range of activities it can provide both in and outside lessons.
Children are taught how to use a wide range of media and study the work of important artists. Often art is linked closely to topic work- e.g. when studying gardens children are taught about the work of William Morris. From Foundation Stage all children are taught basic skills such as colour mixing and colour washing, they are also taught the correct use of tools.
Music is an integral part of our curriculum. Class lessons are timetabled weekly and all children are encouraged to take up learning an instrument from Year 2. They have the opportunity to learn the recorder, violin and piano from Year 2. We work closely with the Bedford Music Cooperative teachers to provide good quality tuition and opportunities. Classes access weekly lessons for a term (Samba/percussion, ukulele etc) then come together to perform with other schools in Bedford Borough at an annual concert. Children learning the violin also have the opportunity to take part in the Fiddle Fiesta at Sharnbrook Academy each year. We also arrange school concerts and use visiting musicians in lessons to teach workshops and demonstrations sometimes in different musical and cultural traditions.
If your child is interested in learning an instrument please see the Bedford Music Cooperative website https://www.bedsmusic.coop/lessons and fill in the online form.
Religious Education (R.E.)
The curriculum is based on the RE Agreed Syllabus for Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton, and has the principal aim of exploring what people believe and what difference this makes to how they live. Pupils will gain knowledge, understanding and the skills required to handle questions raised by religion and belief. The syllabus covers a range of world religions, and includes non-religious beliefs. Children visit places of worship such as the Parish Church, the Mosque and the Gurdwara and where possible, learning experiences are planned that link with other skills such as art/design or drama.
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE)
We schedule a range of regular themed weeks such as Anti-Bullying Week, Road Safety week, and Healthy Living Week. Also PSHE is taught throughout the year as a discrete subject in lessons/circle time. We link this learning closely to our Values Programme. PSHE helps children to understand the world in which they live and how their personal choices affect not only themselves but also those around them.
French lessons take place every week in KS2. Children learn conversational French in an interactive way with songs, games and puppets. We occasionally plan events such as European Week, where classes learn about the culture and language of a specific country e.g. Germany, Poland, France, and Spain.
Sex & Relationships Education
In the context of our Christian Values we believe that children should learn how to develop loving and respectful relationships with others. Through a progressive curriculum they learn:
How to develop loving and respectful relationships with others
The Science of life cycles and about babies and their needs, and how we change as we get older. At Year 4 children begin to learn about the changes that will affect them at Puberty
Parents receive weekly newsletters detailing what children will be learning in the Foundation Stage. In Years 1 to 6 curriculum plans are shared each term with parents, Parents are also invited to attend Curriculum evenings which are held each term, each term the focus is on a different area of the curriculum. Parents are welcome to contact teaching staff direct to find out more about the curriculum their child is following if they require further information.