Our aim: for all of our learners to be safe, happy, determined, empowered, kind, articulate, co-ordinated and strong risk takers.
We have designed every aspect of our curriculum with these aims in mind to create a happy, productive learning environment – from the warm welcome on the door, the calm routines, the fascinating visitors to the inspiring provocations set up for free-flow learning. Our curriculum involves half termly themes that have been refined over many years in response to Continuous Professional Development and reflection; continually improving enabling environments; and most importantly, highly skilled, enthusiastic staff who see every moment as a learning opportunity.
We understand our crucial role as the building block for the rest of the school, both in terms of the child’s learning and development, and in the relationship we build with their families. We work tirelessly to build trust and positive attitudes to learning, knowing that our work as the first welcoming step into the school as a whole is pivotal to a child’s success.
We carefully structure our day to balance short adult-led learning, with longer child-led sessions. We expect both approaches to foster the characteristics of effective learning and produce deep level learning. We have clear progression in the skills needed across the Prime (Physical Development; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication and Language) and Core areas (Mathematics, Literacy, Expressive Arts and Design and Understanding the World).
A calm, yet high energy atmosphere is created in Barnes, where high levels of engagement and sustained concentration are seen throughout. We select excellent resources and staff pour their energies into high quality interactions during the day. Resources are linked logically to the learning intentions or skills progressions currently underway, whilst also providing open ended scenarios so that children can follow their own imagination or lines of enquiry, and be challenged or supported at any moment.
‘Choosing time’ or ‘free-flow’ produces the ‘highest levels of engagement’, or purposeful and happy children. When this happens, we know from research that children’s brains ‘light up’; they make connections and are therefore making progress. These open ended scenarios allow all children to shine. Our curriculum fosters Agency (being able to make choices and decisions to influence events and to have an impact on one’s world); Belonging (being cared for and part of a community) and Competence (the feeling of being successful). Children have space to develop their passions and revisit them as often as they would like. We have the highest expectations for the well-rounded personal development of all children.
Judging by the level of engagement and the positive feedback we receive annually in our parent questionnaire, we have a strong partnership with our parent body. The information we give out weekly in our updates, the additional support leaflets (for example on pencil grip or maths) sent home, the ‘how to help videos’ and the evening workshops we offer, have impacted very positively not only our relationships with parents, but importantly, the progress of our children.