At Exeter Cathedral School we are committed to developing a love of learning through a broad and balanced curriculum through which children are inspired, excited and challenged. Children learn in a calm, creative environment which enables them to form positive relationships with adults and peers, where they feel safe, can develop a sense of belonging and have ownership of their learning environment.
Early Years Foundation Stage
The Reception curriculum follows the Early Years Foundation Stage which comprises seven areas of learning and development. All these areas are interconnected. Three prime areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thus thrive.
The prime areas are: Communication and language; physical development; personal, social and emotional development.
We also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
Literacy; Mathematics; Understanding the World; Expressive Arts and Design
Throughout the day, through carefully planned play experiences, the children benefit from a balance between activities led by children and activities led or guided by adults. Working with a friend, in a small group or as a whole class, children learn how to cooperate, listen and ask questions, follow their own ideas and thus develop into independent learners.
A main focus of each day is the teaching of Phonics and, through precise teaching and carefully planned follow-up activities, children quickly become readers and writers. Learning takes place both indoors and outdoors (including in our woodland and terraced gardens), through play and exploration. In planning and guiding the children’s activities and experiences, our skilled team of staff will reflect on the different ways that children learn. These characteristics of effective learning are: playing and exploring; active learning; creating and thinking critically.
Children have weekly Music and PE lessons which are all taught by specialist teachers from the Prep School. This contact with specialist teachers right from the start helps build relationships and secures an easy transition from the Pre-Prep to the Prep School.
The curriculum is enhanced by enrichment activities which take us beyond the school gates. Frequent visits to the Cathedral, autumn and spring walks in the local area, termly visits to a Forest School as well as visits to the National Marine Aquarium, for example, all serve to enrich the children’s learning experiences.
Key Stage I (Years 1 and 2)
A smooth transition, for the children, from Early Years to Key Stage One is very important to us. To ensure this we build our KS1 provision on what has gone before, building on the solid foundations of the Early Years with opportunities for enquiry-based learning and opportunities for children to take ownership of their learning and to follow passions or curiosities of their own.
We follow a creative curriculum, where we make meaningful links across all subjects to a main overarching theme. This theme will also incorporate trips and enrichment activities beyond the classroom as well as inviting in visiting speakers.
The classroom environments are set up with age-appropriate resources in areas where pupils can work independently, the Maths area, block play, Lego and construction and the workshop. The resources and layout reflect the expectations of the Key Stage One curriculum and we are constantly responding to the children’s interests making learning engaging, challenging and relevant.
Directed teaching takes place throughout each day and the children are invited to work in the whole class group, in small groups or individually. When the children go back to working independently in the areas of provision, they are surrounded by opportunities to embed their new skills through the challenges and tasks that are set or by following their own interests. Core subjects such as Maths, English (including grammar and handwriting) and Phonics feature daily. Whilst we broadly follow the National Curriculum, as an independent school we are by no means constrained by it and we make use of many opportunities to enable our pupils to go above and beyond.
All pupils have weekly Music, PE and Games lessons and French is introduced from Year 2. These lessons are all taught by specialist teachers from the Prep School. This contact with specialist teachers right from the start helps build relationships and secures an easy transition from the Pre-Prep to the Prep department.