Children moving up from the Infant Department will be lively, highly inquisitive and eager to learn.
We provide a curriculum that feeds off each child’s developing interests and provides them with the time and space to explore and investigate deeply, and truly engages them in learning in collaboration with their peers. The curriculum we use is the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). The IPC offers cross-curricular themed projects which can involve different ages and abilities working together over a lengthy period of time. The IPC offers extensive breadth of subject coverage, including science, art, music, language, geography and history, and includes many opportunities for English and maths practice in context.
Much thought has been given to ensuring that transition from the Infant Department, with a curriculum dominated by the Foundation Phase for Wales, to the Junior Department, with a curriculum dominated by the IPC, is seamless. In fact, careful examination of both curricula reveals that there is a remarkable degree of continuity and progression when the two are read together.
The curriculum will be supported by specialist English, maths and science teaching, which will occupy up to 50% of the timetable. All children will be encouraged to perform very well at their end-of-school tests, regardless of their entry point. Consequently, teacher expectations of the children will be very high.
The English and maths teaching is completed in small groups and additional teaching and intervention is provided to suit the needs of each individual child.
In building good foundations, the Infant Department’s approach is influenced by the pioneering work of the municipal pre-schools of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, by the Naturebornhaven schools in Denmark, and by the educational work developed in the UK through the ReFocus Network.
In Reggio Emilia, the educators’ focus is to develop the children’s powers of hypothesis, communication, exploration, perception, imagination, invention and creativity. This is achieved through exciting environments, shared values, a strong “pedagogy of listening” (Rinaldi 1999), and respect for children’s ideas, which are listened to and form the basis of the work of the school. By listening to the ideas of the children and developing the curriculum around their ideas, we will ensure that children are actively engaged in their learning and that every child is learning at the right level for their stage of development. This is important because we expect a significant number of our learners to be working below some of the developmental norms, and this greater engagement in learning will help to bring most children up to the age appropriate level by the end of Key Stage 2.
The Naturebornhaven schools in Denmark enable children to develop in rich, exciting and beautiful outdoor environments where they can learn to be autonomous and follow their own learning experiences together with their peers and teachers. This forest school approach provides a wealth of experiential opportunities that are in complete contrast to the usual urban decay found in inner west Newcastle. The contrast will also provide an additional stimulus to parents who may otherwise be reluctant to engage in school activities. The forest school approach will provide an environment in which the teachers are not naturally in charge, and make it easier for parents to express themselves.
The ReFocus Network is a UK network of educators who for more than a decade have been working together to develop strong, shared pedagogical values in early childhood education.
The “Foundation Phase for Wales” readily accommodates our extended use of the outdoors, and supports the principles and traditions of Reggio Emilia.