Early Years Curriculum

A curriculum designed for Lyme Community Primary School


As we are a school nursery leading in to our reception class, from the day our pupils arrive we are focussing on their development. With highly skilled and experienced staff we understand the need to provide the firm foundations for communication and language skills, independence skills and knowledge and experiences of the world around us.  Through voluntary workshops and first hand experience we develop parents' skills in sharing the earliest reading experiences with their children, singing nursery rhymes and songs and practising simple number bonds or rhymes. We do lots of play activities designed to develop our children's physical skills enabling them to hold a pencil and draw recognisable shapes.

The overwhelming majority of our Reception Class is made up of children who attended our Nursery. 

During the first few weeks on entry we complete our on-entry baseline assessments using the Early Years Outcomes.  This provides us with a useful picture of what a child knows or can do at a certain point in time, as well as gaps in their learning.  We use this information to inform subsequent teaching and learning, identifying developmentally appropriate next steps for all children.

At Lyme we put the individual child at the centre of everything we do.  We understand that play based learning is the key to successful, happy, confident and resilient learners of the future.

Ofsted definition of teaching (2015)

Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term which covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment they provide and the attention to the physical environment as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations. Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do as well as take account of their interests and dispositions to learning (characteristics of effective learning), and use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.’ 

This Ofsted definition of teaching fits exactly with our way of planning and teaching – ‘in the moment.’

   The cycle of observation, assessment, planning, observation is carried out on a moment by moment basis. The children decide where they want to go and what they want to do… they initiate the activity the adult then takes advantage of the child’s motivation and interest to maximise the learning potential and deepening understanding of many concepts that could be number, phonics, general knowledge, a reasoning question, language/vocabulary development etc.

Each Thursday six children (3- Nursery, 3-Reception) are selected to be the “focus children” for the following week. The children are given a letter to take home.  It asks if there are any areas parents would like us to focus on and anything of significance going on at home e.g. birthdays, new pets etc. Staff will use this information during the child’s focus week to help them individualise their learning.  The child’s learning journey is then completed that week and is sent home for parents with some next steps for their child.       

On Monday an A3 “Learning Journey” sheet for each of the focus children is put on the planning board.

These sheets are blank (except for a couple of words to indicate areas that the staff or parents would like to try and capture). During the week any adult who has a productive interaction with a focus child records the event on the learning journey. It is important that the whole cycle is recorded – i.e. the initial observation, the assessment, the planning, teaching and the outcome. This ensures we challenge, target and support individual needs.

As a one form entry school with a family feel our adults get to know the children extremely well and have a sound understanding of each child's development. The adults are there to lead learning through play and do this through observing and interacting. We ensure that our adults receive training so that they can spot a ‘teachable moment’ while the children are engaged, this ensures that the adults enhance and extend the learning at the appropriate level for each unique child.   Our staff engage the children in high quality interactions to develop the children’s communication and language skills as much as possible. Staff are trained in questioning and are skilful in asking the right kinds of questions to enhance learning.  They are provided with banks of questions to use or encouraged to use narrative for those children who questioning is too much for. 

They challenge and question where appropriate at the level that is right for that child. Adults move the child’s learning forward there and then - ‘in the moment planning.’ We believe all adults are teachers and every interaction is an opportunity for a ‘teachable moment.’      

Activities that occur are FORMALLY recorded when the cycle is complete.  These records are on the learning journeys for the focus children and on ‘planning in the moment’ sheets for activities in which a group become involved.  The focus children are given extra attention, but all the children are busy and learning all the time. The planning sheets are a record of activities that have occurred. 

Throughout the week each area of learning is covered and this is recorded on the learning journey and planning sheets. We work in this way because research has shown that high-level involvement and learning occurs in child-initiated activity.

“Babies and young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week.  It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest- the ‘teachable moment’-that the skilful adult makes a difference.  By using this cycle on a moment -by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child’s thinking (assessment), and always ready to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children’s well-being and learning (planning for the next moment).” From National Standards Document Learning, Playing and Interacting 2009 p 22-23.

We have a workshop style environment both indoors and outside. We do not ‘set out’ activities for the children, but rather support the children to choose their own interests.  As with the outdoor area, the Indoor area allows for learning in all areas of development.  The children are supported to select what they want to do (based on their learning and development needs) in each area.  Generally, the adults go to the children.

The principle is that resources are accessible to the children and they are varied, open-ended and high quality. This gives children the opportunity to select resources to support their chosen activity. However, we do take into considerations the seasons/topical issues; such as Pancake Day and Chinese New Year for example and enhance the provision as necessary.   Sometimes provocations or invitations are added to an area e.g. if the area is a little underused or to challenge and further children’s knowledge and experiences when an adult is not around.

Other ‘WOW’ moments are recorded on our online Learning Journeys which parents have access to and can contribute to.

Inputs (or when adults teach key concepts in small or larger groups) happen a number of times throughout the day e.g. Phonics is taught in a morning for all FS, maths usually happens for 10-15 minutes straight after lunch in Reception and Nursery have at least one focus maths session a week.   Adults introduce a number a week. The majority of this work is practical, hands-on and not written down. Reception children also have a writing input plus two guided reading sessions weekly.

As children progress through the Reception year more focused reading, writing and maths opportunities are included to get them ready for the Year 1 curriculum.

We place great emphasis on expanding vocabulary and giving our children the experience of a wide range of stories, songs and rhymes.  Our book area is well stocked and puppets and props are available for the children to re-enact stories.  

 We use the Talk for Writing approach to involve children in storytelling and story making.  It helps to build children’s confidence in storytelling, extend children’s vocabulary and knowledge of stories and their structure and so in turn their writing.

Key vocabulary is displayed around the room to aid visual recognition and to provide staff with prompts to introduce key vocabulary.  Talking prompts are used to encourage communication and further introduce new vocabulary and experiences.

Our displays reflect current learning and celebrate the children’s work.

We encourage parents to take an active role in their child’s learning We provide library books for the children to take home both in Nursery and Reception.  Nursery children also have Bedtime Reading Bears which they take in turns to take home.  Parents are asked to read a bedtime story to their child and the child is asked to draw a picture about it.   Swingy the monkey is also sent home on a weekly basis to encourage the parents to do different activities with their child and Swingy.  The parents are asked to record what they have done in Swingy’s diary.  This is then shared with the rest of the class when they bring it back to nursery.

Reception children take home a library book and two reading books each week. 

We hold many different Parents Workshops (Early Literacy, Maths, Phonics and Reading) to encourage parents to become involved in their child’s learning.  Parents are also invited to Stay and Play sessions to further develop, close links between home and school. This also provides them with an opportunity for them to see their child among their school friends, experience what it is like at school and get another chance to speak to staff about their child’s progress.

We also audit our provision using ECERS and the SSTEW toolkits to ensure our provision is of the highest quality.

Progress and Development

When children show high levels of involvement, we can see progress and development occurring. The brain is at its most active. High level involvement occurs most often when children are able to pursue their own interests in an enabling environment supported by skilled staff.  ‘Planning in the Moment’ makes this possible.

We also provide small group interventions with highly qualified staff for those children who are identified as requiring additional support:  Early Talk Boost, Speech and Language Link, Phonics, Maths and Reading.

Our outcomes for children have improved year on year as a direct result of the changes we have made to the way we assess and teach to ensure high –levels of learning in the EYFS.

Assessment and Curriculum Planning

At Lyme Community Primary, ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development processes. Staff observe pupils to identify their level of achievement, interests and learning styles. These observations are used to shape future planning. Practitioners also take into account observations shared by parents and/or carers.

Children are assessed throughout FS against the Early Years Outcomes using 2 Simple to record.

At the end of the EYFS, staff complete the EYFS profile for each child. Pupils are assessed against the 17 early learning goals, indicating whether they are:

•          Meeting expected levels of development

•          Exceeding expected levels or,

•          Not yet reaching expected levels (‘emerging’)

The profile reflects ongoing observations and discussions with parents and/or carers. The results of the profile are then shared with parents and/or carers.

Our curriculum is based on Early Years Outcomes and happens ‘In the moment- no two days are the same.  



Lyme Community Primary, Lyme St, Newton-le-Willows WA12 9HD