At Whitehall Park School we follow the national EYFS Framework. The vast majority of both state and private schools follow the EYFS Curriculum which includes the four guiding principles and seven areas of learning described in our Teaching and Learning in EYFS section. The values which underpin all provision are grouped into four guiding principles which form the context for the seven areas of learning. These are carefully planned for by teachers and form our EYFS curriculum. At Whitehall Park School we follow the principles of the EYFS while extending and enriching the curriculum to best suit our children.
Four Guiding Principles
A Unique Child
At Whitehall Park we recognise that each child is an individual learner. We encourage children to become capable, resilient, confident and self-assured by ensuring each individual is valued for their unique character, abilities, interests and cultural heritage.
We believe that every area of children’s development is equally important and provide an environment where children’s needs and interests are central. We take into account children’s range of life experiences when planning for their learning. By working closely with parents and families, we aim to provide a safe environment where children feel secure and are able to trust that an adult is available to meet their needs and support their development, whether at home or school. Children’s health impacts enormously on their emotional, mental, social, environmental and spiritual well-being. We encourage children to develop healthy practices and support their independence.
Each child in the EYFS at Whitehall Park School has key staff members who will respectfully acknowledges and support their learning, needs and feelings, and those of their family. Usually, the key staff members for children are their class teacher and learning support assistant (LSA). This helps us provide an environment so that children learn to be strong and independent through the formation of secure, warm and trusting relationships with each unique child and their family.
At Whitehall Park School we believe that stimulating and safe indoor and outdoor learning environments which encourage children’s independence are central to their learning and development. We observe children in order to tune into their interests, needs and abilities and use these to underpin our planning. A rich and varied environment is carefully planned to ensure all children learn and develop well, are engaged and making progress at their own pace. Children develop the confidence to explore in the safe, yet challenging environment that Whitehall Park School offers. We believe that working as a team with external agencies and professionals is essential and benefits the children significantly. There will be a strong partnership between staff and parents and carers.
Development and Learning
The EYFS curriculum is made up of seven areas of learning and development. At Whitehall Park School we plan for each of the seven areas and are committed to supporting each individual child, including children with special educational needs and disabilities, to learn through play and exploration as well as by setting appropriate tasks to challenge each child in their learning journey. We encourage creative and critical thinking by making sure a wide range of resources is available to the children and that links are made between the areas of learning so children are able to transfer and generalise their knowledge and skills.
Children at this stage are constructing a framework for learning and life. They are acquiring key attitudes to learning and exploring learning processes, as well as acquiring a core of knowledge and a grasp of language. Initially information given by parents, then by our own observations, informs our planning of the learning environment to stimulate and motivate each child to progress at his/her own pace.
Our curriculum is child‐centred, focused upon the development of the individual child, socially, emotionally, physically, aesthetically, morally and cognitively. We recognise that the needs of our young children are such that it is not possible to separate their need for learning experiences from their need for care and emotional support.
Children learn through their senses and through powerful interaction with their environment. There is a strong focus on play‐based and outdoor learning together with a combination of structured play, first‐hand experience and some directed teaching. The development of the whole child is considered crucial. As such, our curriculum caters for the whole child. Children are provided with a range of rich, meaningful first-hand experiences in which children explore, think creatively and are active. We aim to develop and foster positive attitudes towards learning, confidence, communication and physical development.
As a team, we write long-term and medium-term plans using the EYFS based on a series of topics each of which offers experiences in all seven areas. Each term, we plan to have an overarching theme that provides opportunities for the child to engage in all prime and core aspects of learning. Within each half term, we will focus more closely on specific themes drawn from the world around them that interest and stimulate the children. Within each theme, we have carefully chosen a range of books that will lead the learning and of these we will focus particularly on three books, using these as the stimulus and thread for all aspects of learning, be that literacy, mathematics, art, design or understanding the world.
Each of the three stimulus books will be used to develop the children’s skills through a technique devised by Pie Corbett and known as “Talk for Writing”. This powerful technique is an excellent method for teaching the key literacy skills associated with speaking and listening, reading and writing. This is very much a personalised writing curriculum using a range of multi-sensual and varied learning styles in order to link quality talk with quality writing. The children will learn and rehearse oral stories in order to build their own confidence in storytelling, structure and adaptations or extensions.
Reading, phonics and writing at Whitehall Park School will be taught using a clear teaching sequence which can be applied to any of the key texts chosen by the teachers and children which best suits the needs and interests of the cohort. The sequence is as follows:
- Familiarisation with the text – opportunity to explore children’s personal and collective responses and opportunities to rehearse their ideas with partners, in small groups or as a class.
- Capturing ideas – oral rehearsal using actions and drama to support reading. Creating story maps, pictures, mind maps and resources to help to re-tell the story.
- Teacher demonstration – showing children how to create words from letters using phonics knowledge to make plausible attempts at more complex words and using blending to attempt high frequency and more common words.
- Teacher modelled writing – articulation of the thinking and creative processes involved in writing. Guided writing groups will follow a whole class input.
- Independent writing. Children have a go at writing stories, or parts of stories that they know well. Some children may innovate and change the story to incorporate settings or characters that they know, for example The Three Little Pigs could become The Three Little Teddy Bears.
Through engaging children in a key text based on the current topic, children are motivated and enthused and a thematic approach to the curriculum can be achieved. They will learn key phrases or be able to retell the stories using actions or their own words. Eventually, they will be able to adapt the stories they know to retell or write their own.
We have found Talk for Writing to be such a powerful tool for developing many aspects of a child’s learning and experiences. There are endless possibilities for each of the different texts that we intend to use. All of the discrete aspects of learning will also be taught carefully and precisely using key strategies from across a range of different theories and practises. For example, we will be drawing upon elements of the highly successful Ruth Miskin Read Write Inc programme alongside Letters and Sounds to develop children’s cooperative learning and phonics skills and utilising key strategies from Singapore Maths where the children utilise concrete, pictorial and abstract methods to understand and apply mathematical knowledge and skills.
We will be providing detailed guides for parents for each aspect of the curriculum, but we hope that this has given you a flavour of what to expect for your child in Reception at Whitehall Park School. We are very excited about the opportunities ahead to shape and mould the curriculum to suit the individual needs, preferences and interests of our first cohort of children who will be joining us in September 2014.