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How we teach in Year 1

A Negotiated Curriculum

Rationale

We teach Year 1 according to the ethos of the EYFS, as we feel that more formal methods of teaching are no longer suitable for our pupils moving from the EYFS into KS1. At Parkhead we embark on a play-based ‘Negotiated Curriculum’ in Year 1 in response to a number of issues:

  • A desire to enhance the quality of independent learning
  • A desire to create systems that accurately assess the acquired knowledge, skills and concepts of our children so that planning can reflect the individualised learning needs and styles of the children.
  • Inclusive practice that helps every individual child to meet their learning potential regardless of gender, belief system, culture or language.
  • A desire to create life-long learners.
  • Observations of our children’s rote response to the learning situation

Our ultimate aim is to raise standards and outcomes for all of our children.

Process

In Year 1, Read, Write, Inc is taught discretely. Every other subject is taught through a play-based, negotiated curriculum, which is usually linked to a carefully chosen topic. Play provides opportunities for children to experience learning in a meaningful and purposeful way, allowing them to develop the skills to become effective learners.

“Menu Time is fun because even though we are playing, we are still learning new stuff. Things are never boring.” Leyton, Year 1

deconstructed The learning environment, consisting of 3 ‘Zones’ (indoors and outdoors), encourages independent and active learning, enabling children to access learning opportunities according to their individual learning styles.

“In ‘Menu Time’ we can play with our friends and help them to learn new things. I like choosing which zone to learn in because sometimes I like to stay inside but sometimes I fancy going out.” Liam, Year 1

Each day, children learn through either a small adult led activity, child-led investigation, or by choosing from a planned ‘Menu of Activities.’ The ‘Menu of Activities’ consists of independent activities initiated by the teacher (linked to curriculum coverage and progression) and the children (through ongoing discussion and during the planning stage.) Children manage their own time, to ensure they have completed all activities on the ‘menu’ by the end of the 2 week cycle.   ‘Planning time ‘and ‘Review time’ each day, play an important role in developing good thinking habits and developing more independent learners.

“We can plan what we want to do and show our friends what we have learned at the end and we can get ideas about what we can do next time.” Sam, Year 1topic

Accountability

A Negotiated Curriculum has many benefits. Our children enjoy learning and are active the whole time. They are totally involved in their learning as they have choice about the activity they want to focus on and are consulted on activities and resources that could go into the different areas of learning.

“’There are always lots of places to learn in ‘Menu Time’ so it’s never boring.” Viktoria, Year 1

 writing topic

“I like choosing what we want to learn. If we want to find out about something or do something, we can just ask.” Taylor, Year 1

However, teachers retain a very tight control over the curriculum and subsequent outcomes for the children, through ongoing formative assessment to set challenging targets through discreet highly differentiated group teaching and interventions. The inclusion of the basic skills of reading, writing and mathematics as integral within the system surrounding the negotiated curriculum, not only gives children the opportunity to develop and use these skills on a daily basis in addition to the planned focussed literacy and numeracy teaching, but the integrity of these skills ensures they are viewed by the children as relevant to their lives, with meaning and purpose.

“In ‘Menu Time’ we have to be resilient and not give up. Even when we find things tricky we just keep trying and trying.” Brooke, Year 1

The skills that children develop are significant. Every day, children are given the opportunity to manage information, solve problems and make decisions, make connections, be creative, self-manage, work with others and value others ideas, resulting in independent and resilient children.