Our Early Years Curriculum
The curriculum that we deliver in the Year R (Reception) class meets the requirements set out in the Government’s Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage. This sets out the standards that must be met to ensure that children learn and develop well and are healthy and safe. Children develop skills, acquire new knowledge and demonstrate their understanding through seven areas of learning and development. These areas are divided into the ‘Prime’ and ‘Specific’ areas of learning.
The three ‘Prime’ areas of learning focus on developing the skills that children need for healthy development and to become effective learners. These areas are:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
As children grow, the Prime areas will help them to develop skills in four ‘Specific’ areas, which are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
These seven areas are used to plan children’s learning and activities. It is designed to be flexible so that staff can follow the needs and interests of the children. Children in the EYFS learn through playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.
Each child’s progress is reviewed throughout the year through on-going assessment against the early learning goals. The assessment is based on classroom observation and children do not sit tests. It uses the early learning goals, which can be found in the Early Years Framework which can be accessed here
Our Curriculum at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
The Core Subjects
Mathematics: We follow the National Curriculum for Maths, placing emphasis on core skills to ensure that an understanding of place value, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are embedded from an early age. Teachers' plan lessons to include a balance of opportunities to develop fluency, reasoning and problem-solving. Teachers have been trained in the Mastery Approach and have been involved in Teacher Research Groups in this area.
English: We follow the National Curriculum for English, focusing on the key skills of phonics, reading and spelling; grammar, punctuation and writing; and speaking and listening. We use "Unlocking Letters and Sounds", a DfE validated Synthetics Phonics Programme, to teach phonics. Children in Yrs R – 2 have a daily phonics session. We promote a 'phonics first' approach and in both our guided reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics. As well as their reading scheme book, children are encouraged to choose books from our class book corners and school library to encourage reading for pleasure. Once children progress beyond decodable texts, they move onto our book scheme so that they can continue to progress in their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills to become avid, expert readers.
Science: Our science curriculum follows the National Curriculum, organised through topics each term for each year group.
Religious Education: As a Catholic school, we follow the national scheme of work called “Come and See”. There are three strands to the scheme: ‘Church’ which explores how we are part of the family of God; ‘The Sacraments’ which introduces children to the mystery and purpose of the sacraments; and ‘Christian Living’ which looks at how we live our lives as people of God. Each term children examine different elements of these strands at a level appropriate to their development.
Autumn: The Domestic Church (Family); Baptism/Confirmation; Advent & Christmas (Loving)
Spring: The Local Church (Community); Eucharist ; Lent and Easter (Giving)
Summer: The Universal Church (World); Reconciliation; Pentecost (Serving)
The scheme also includes the study of other world faiths and at St. Joseph’s we explore Judaism and Islam.
The Foundation Subjects
We follow the National Curriculum requirements for Art and Design, Computing, Design Technology, Geography, History, Music and Physical Education.
Our teachers have created a Topic Framework which seeks to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, draws links between areas of learning and includes an exciting range of challenging tasks designed to help children think independently and work creatively.
Sometimes subjects and skills are taught in discrete lessons, at other times subjects may be grouped together in topics. For example, a topic may have a History focus such as the Ancient Egyptians but children may also use geographical skills to interpret maps, learn about the importance of the River Nile or study Egyptian art.
We also place emphasis on the skills needed to become effective learners. We promote a “Growth Mindset”, for example encouraging children to take risks in their learning and challenge themselves, valuing mistakes as learning opportunities, building resilience and perseverance and valuing the learning process as well as the outcomes.
PE: In addition to PE and Games lessons, each year group has a block of swimming lessons during the year. EYFS and KS1 have their lessons at Dorking Leisure Centre and KS2 have their lessons at the Priory School Pool with Swimsense. We are an active member of the Dorking Schools’ Sports Partnership and participate in a wide range of local festivals, competitions and tournaments.
Languages: We teach French as our modern foreign language to children from Year 1 - 5. We also introduce our Year 6 children to Latin.