At Umberleigh Academy we recognise that children will learn most effectively when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met and when they have positive relationships with the adults who care for them. We aim to provide a setting that encompasses a safe and stimulating environment where children are able to enjoy learning and grow in confidence that helps them to achieve their potential.
Our curriculum design effectively underpins our core values and our school vision. The curriculum is planned and implemented using a thematic approach across the school using the Cornerstones Creative Curriculum. This approach gives children the opportunities to apply learning from across the curriculum that gives their work practical context and also opportunities to apply knowledge and skills they have learned through a variety of learning opportunities. Each term, children will cover several aspects within a topic. These are introduced to our children in a creative way and will usually involve a memorable experience, concluding in a big event. Each topic is delivered through a staged approach incorporating an initial engagement stage to capture the children’s imagination in their new topic or theme of learning. This learning then develops through a series of lessons that build skills, knowledge and understanding within that topic of learning. At the end of each topic, children are given the opportunity to evaluate their learning and celebrate their achievements.
In the Early Years, we use focused teaching sessions and adult-led activities to build the foundation of the children’s core skills, knowledge and understanding, so that they can apply this learning to child-initiated activities and through continuous provision (play based learning). The curriculum provides a play-based and experiential learning environment, to ensure children make good progress before moving onto Year 1. The children in both Nursery and Reception are provided with ample opportunities accessible in our indoor and outdoor provision. They engage in planned, focussed activities as well as self-initiated and play based activities which we call out ‘independent learning time’.
Throughout Nursery and Reception, our children are assessed in relation to their progress towards Development Matters and the 17 Early Learning Goals. Formative assessment takes place within every session and helps staff to identify any children that need more support to achieve the objectives and those that need challenging. These judgements are made on the basis of accumulative observations and in-depth knowledge of the children. Next steps are taught through our ‘notice and focus’ approach, observations made during continuous provision and adult led activities help us to ensure support is tailored to each individual child. End-of-year assessments are finalised during the summer term, summarising each child’s development at that point against the Early Learning Goals and Development Matters.