The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) includes children from age three to five years and we have five EYFS classes at present to cover this age range. At Blundell's Preparatory School in the EYFS the Nursery and Kindergarten follow the 'Early Years Foundation Stage' produced by the Department for Education. The EYFS curriculum is organised into six areas of learning: -
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Communication, language and literacy
- Problem Solving, reasoning and numeracy
- Knowledge and understanding of the world
- Physical development
- Creative development
At Blundell's Preparatory School these areas are covered through a variety of topics, which incorporate many practical tasks so the children have hands on experience of doing things for themselves. We are fortunate to have access to outside areas from each of our Nursery and Kindergarten classrooms so there are ample opportunities for children to cover these areas of learning outside of the classroom as well as in it.
From Nursery 2 children begin to follow the Abacus maths scheme, which continues into Kindergarten. This scheme has many practical activities that build on the mathematical activities covered in Nursery 1. The Kindergarten children also follow 'Read Write Inc.' to learn to read and write with a phonic approach. Collins 'Focus on Literacy' Language Scheme is also used to offer breath to the literacy curriculum. These schemes both build on the previous language and literacy activities covered in the Nursery classes. All children in the EYFS at Blundell's Preparatory School are encouraged to enjoy and share books with each other, individually and with an adult. Regular visits to the Pre-Prep library occur throughout the year from Nursery 1. Nursery 2 aged children and Kindergarten classes also use the Stanley Thorne's Primary Science scheme, which fits in with their topic work. Again this follows on from the investigative play carried out by our youngest children. From Nursery 2 the children begin to learn French using songs and games as the basis for their learning.
Assessment in the Nursery is done in line with the 'Early Years Foundation Stage' and in the Kindergarten the Foundation Stage Profile is completed as per statutory requirements. Teachers also keep their own records and work closely with the teaching assistants so that all children are working at their potential and extra support or extension activities can be given to individuals or groups as appropriate. Due to the small class sizes, with a maximum of 19 in any one class, many children in Kindergarten classes begin to move onto Key Stage One activities in the summer term.
For more information about the EYFS at Blundell's Preparatory School please contact either Mrs Elaine Filmer-Bennett – Head of Pre-Prep or myself.
Mrs Diane Kimber
The staff at Blundell's Preparatory School believe that the study of art places an important emphasis upon our pupils' creative and emotional development. Art in our school makes a major contribution to these aspects of education as well as to the spiritual and cultural development of pupils. In our school there is an ethos that values imagination, inspiration and contemplation and encourages pupils to ask questions about meaning and purpose. Art has a key role in the creation of this ethos born through practical experience and in its critical and historical aspects. Cultural development is central to pupils' art education and will develop their creative and aesthetic skills and experience through working with a variety of media and in response to and in the study of the work of artists, craftworkers and designers from a wide range of cultures and contexts, times and places.
The children all take part in Creative Arts week where they have the opportunity to contribute to a themed project throughout the week. They learn new skills and enjoy workshops given by visiting artists who specialize in a particular field. All the children gain so much from this invaluable week of creativity.
Children in each year group have the opportunity to work on PC's within their classrooms using a variety of programs. Children in Years 1 and 2 also have a weekly lesson in the Computing room when each child has access to a computer. They learn to use technology creatively using a creative online space called Purple mash. They learn to use logical thinking to predict the behaviour of simple programs. They experience simple programming when using Beebots and Roamers. They are also taught how to be safe on the internet. Much of the work they do is cross-curricular and many of the activities are chosen to extend their opportunities for learning and investigation in Language, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography and Design.
Drama is an element of the National Literacy Strategy, and is therefore included as part of our English syllabus. However, we believe in the importance of allowing each child to develop speaking and listening skills, with a chance to stimulate and exercise their imagination using a variety of dramatic techniques and structures. Implicit in these activities is the opportunity for free expression, reflection and working co-operatively with others. Children in the Pre-Prep join in class assemblies and each year group presents a performance for parents twice a year.
Language is an intrinsic part of teaching in all subjects in the Pre-Prep. Throughout the school day children are encouraged to use and develop their language skills through play, discussion and conversation. The language curriculum in the Pre-Prep is based on the National Curriculum and at Key Stage One, one hour each morning is devoted to the teaching of language. During these lessons the areas of reading, phonics, spelling, grammar, punctuation, creative writing and handwriting are taught. The Read, Write Inc. scheme and other quality texts are used for these lessons and through these, the children explore a breadth of literature and are introduced to simple grammar and punctuation.
We strive to develop a love of reading in all our children. Reading is taught using the Read, Write Inc. scheme supported by a variety of other quality modern schemes and with guidance, when ready, children also choose books from their own level in the class or library, to read at home. A sound knowledge and understanding of phonics is vital in the learning of both reading and writing and the children are helped to build their phonic knowledge throughout the different year groups. During Years' One and Two children widen their knowledge of spelling and take home words to learn each week.
From a young age the children are encouraged to create their own stories and poems and to begin to use language and vocabulary confidently and to write independently. Handwriting is also taught and the Nelson scheme is followed throughout the Department. Children are assisted in forming a joined, cursive style by the time they leave Year two.
French in the Pre-prep begins at the age of three and the children learn the new language through songs, games and action rhymes; sometimes puppets are used to introduce new words. With this young age group the emphasis is on speaking and listening in order to familiarise the children with the sounds of the French language.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum Geography is incorporated into the Understanding of the World area of learning. Young children are given opportunities to show an interest in the world in which they live, comment and ask questions about where they live and the natural world, to talk about some things they have observed such as plants, animals and found objects, differences between features of the local environments
And they begin to know about their own cultures and beliefs and those of other people.
In Key Stage One during Geography lessons pupils develop knowledge about the world, the United Kingdom and their locality. They begin to understand basic subject-specific vocabulary relating to human and physical geography and begin to use geographical skills, including first-hand observation, to enhance their locational awareness.
Children are taught the following through a variety of topics that spark interest and enthusiasm.
- to name and locate the world’s seven continents and five oceans
- to name, locate and identify characteristics of the four countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom and its surrounding seas
- to understand geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and physical geography of a small area of the United Kingdom, and of a small area in a contrasting non-European country – Kampong Ayer, Brunei
Human and physical geography
- to identify seasonal and daily weather patterns in the United Kingdom and the location of hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the Equator and the North and South Poles
- to use basic geographical vocabulary to refer to:
- key physical features, including: beach, cliff, coast, forest, hill, mountain, sea, ocean, river, soil, valley, vegetation, season and weather
- key human features, including: city, town, village, factory, farm, house, office, port, harbour and shop
Geographical skills and fieldwork
- to use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the United Kingdom and its countries, as well as the countries, continents and oceans studied at this key stage
- to use simple compass directions (North, South, East and West) and locational and directional language [for example, near and far; left and right], to describe the location of features and routes on a map
- to use aerial photographs and plan perspectives to recognise landmarks and basic human and physical features; devise a simple map; and use and construct basic symbols in a key
- to use simple fieldwork and observational skills to study the geography of their school and its grounds and the key human and physical features of its surrounding environment.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum History is incorporated into the Understanding of the World area of learning. Young children are given opportunities to talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members.
Throughout the Key Stage One History curriculum in the Pre-Prep pupils develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. Children begin to have an awareness of where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. They use a wide vocabulary of everyday historical terms and they are encouraged to ask and answer questions. Pupils also choose and use parts of stories and other sources to show that they know and understand key features of events. They understand some of the ways in which we find out about the past and identify different ways in which it is represented, for example from books, the internet, from artefacts and by talking to older people.
In planning to ensure the progression through teaching about the people, events and changes teachers are often introducing pupils to historical periods that they will study more fully at Key Stages Two and Three.
Children in Key Stage One are taught about:
- changes within living memory for example changes to holiday destinations
- events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally for example, the Great Fire of London and the first aeroplane flight
- the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements, for example Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry
- significant historical events, people and places in their own locality. Year One visit Tiverton Museum as well as borrow handling collections throughout the year and Year Two visit Tiverton Castle as well as having access to the handling collections to support their learning.
Mathematics at Blundell's Pre-Prep is based on the new National Curriculum. Each class spends at least 45 minutes every day learning mathematics, with the emphasis very much on practical experience. In the Early Years mathematical development involves providing children with opportunities to practise and improve their skills in numeracy. Children are encouraged to explore and experiment in order to develop a sound understanding of the subject and to make the necessary connections. Children are taught the essential skills and vocabulary needed to develop a firm foundation of mathematical knowledge on which to build. Once these are in place the children learn to relate mathematical operations to real life situations and to undertake problem solving investigations. As children progress they learn to record and discuss their work. Our aim is to deliver a high-quality mathematics education that provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, and a sense of excitement and curiosity about the subject.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage Music is included in the area of learning called Expressive Arts and Design. Children are given opportunities to experience live and recorded music and learn how musical instruments produce different sounds. The children learn simple songs and build up a repertoire of their favourites. They have the opportunity to move and dance to music. They are introduced to some basic language of music and start to recognise changes in pitch and tempo. They learn to tap simple rhythms and make up their own. They use percussion instruments to accompany singing and to create their own music.
At Key Stage One the children build on what they have learned in the previous years. The programme of study is based on the new National Curriculum. They listen to, perform and evaluate music from a variety of genres, ages and traditions. They sing and learn to use their voices and have the opportunity to compose. They explore and understand how music is created and learn about the different dimensions involved such as pitch, duration and dynamics. From Nursery to Year One Music is taught by class teachers. In Year Two a specialist Music teacher teaches the subject.
In addition to class music lessons there are plenty of opportunities for children to develop their skills and interest in Music. Each year group performs an entertainment or musical play twice a year. As well as being great fun this is invaluable in developing the children’s self-confidence and ability to perform in front of an audience. Music plays a major part in our daily assemblies and we have professional musicians visiting school to perform or run workshops for the children. We also enjoy performances from older children in the school. There are various extra-curricular clubs in which children in Years One and Two can learn a musical instrument.
At Blundell’s Pre-Prep we aim to deliver a high-quality physical education curriculum which inspires all pupils to succeed and excel in competitive sport and other physically-demanding activities. In the Early Years children are taught to be active and interactive, and to develop their coordination, control, and movement. We provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports a healthy and active lifestyle. Within their P.E. lessons the children are given the opportunity to work as individuals, in a group or as part of a team. Pupils develop core movement, become increasingly competent and confident and access a broad range of opportunities to extend their agility, balance and co-ordination. As the children progress we aim to give them opportunities to compete in sport and other activities in order to build character and help to embed values such as fairness and respect.
In the Pre-Prep, PHSE is delivered through a planned programme of learning through which children acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to manage their lives. As part of a whole school approach PHSE develops the qualities and attributes pupils need to thrive as individuals, family members and members of society. We seek to develop confidence, a sense of responsibility enabling children to play an active role as citizens and develop a safe and healthy lifestyle.
Every child in the Pre-Prep will be encouraged to explore age appropriate topics on feelings, friendships, relationships, behaviour and responsibilities. Through focussing on fundamental British values the children will learn how to distinguish between right and wrong, challenge stereotypes and develop a mutual respect and tolerance of others.
Esafety is embedded in this curriculum area focussing on staying safe online, being respectful to and respectful of online communities and selecting appropriate websites whilst protecting pupil’s personal information.
PHSE lessons will also focus on our set of “Golden Rules” which apply inside and outside the classroom. Children are rewarded for appropriate behaviour and supported when things go wrong. Children are given responsibilities across the Department from an early age and these are added to as the children move through the Department.
The pastoral care of each child is the responsibility of the Class teachers. Each class creates their own set of rules which the children are expected to abide by both in the classroom and out on the playground. As a Department we celebrate the children’s achievements gained inside and outside of school in our Friday Celebratory Assembly. Acts of kindness, helpfulness and consideration are also recognised and praised.
During R.E. lessons in the Pre-Prep department children learn about and from the principle religions represented in Britain today. Basing our studies on Christianity, children are helped to relate Christian beliefs and practices with those of the other religions particularly through the study of appropriate festivals and celebrations. In this way pupils are encouraged to understand and respect the religious, spiritual and moral values of others while developing their own.
Science in the Pre-Prep starts in the Early Years Foundation Stage. It is included in the area of learning called Understanding the World. Through a wide range of fun, practical activities children start to explore, and find out about, their environment and the world in which they live. The children learn to be curious and investigate, solve problems, ask questions and use reference skills. They learn to use appropriate language and the importance of keeping healthy and safe. As well as doing activities inside they are able to make use of our wonderful school grounds.
At Key Stage One the programme of study is based on the new National Curriculum. Children are taught to ask simple questions, observe closely and use their observations to suggest answers to questions, perform simple tests, identify and classify and gather and record data. All these skills are taught as part of a variety of topics related to plants, animals, including humans, everyday materials and seasonal changes. As in the Foundation Stage the children are able to use our extensive grounds to enhance their learning.
Science should be exciting, fun and stimulate a curiosity which should be life-long.