Man reading story on floor with children at nursery

NDNA’s top tips for developing your nursery curriculum

With the changes in the Early Years Foundation Stage guidance (EYFS, 2021), and the reduction in age/milestone guidance in Development Matters, it is even more important that settings understand what curriculum means and what they need to do to design their own broad and balanced curriculum for children.

See our top tips to support you to develop your nursery curriculum.

Why do settings need to develop their own curriculum?

The Early Years Inspection Handbook for Ofsted-registered provision states: “Inspectors will consider the extent to which leaders have designed an ambitious and well-sequenced curriculum.”

It also states that “Inspectors will assess any provider’s curriculum favourably when leaders have built or adopted a curriculum with appropriate coverage, content, structure and sequencing and implemented it effectively.”

What does “curriculum” mean?

Curriculum means WHAT you want children to learn in the time they are with you in your setting. It should be based on the seven areas of learning as prescribed in the EYFS. It also needs to encompass all of the key skills that children need in order to be successful in their next stage of learning.

How do I create a curriculum for my setting?

The seven areas of learning in the EYFS are the scaffolding around which to build your own curriculum. In each area of learning, it is essential to think about your expectations for children at different ages in their lives. Having a strong knowledge of child development and the ages you would expect children to be gaining different skills, will help you to develop your own setting’s curriculum.

When your setting has a strong curriculum, every interaction and every activity becomes more meaningful and purposeful. Building your curriculum will take time and it is likely to need adapting each year, depending on your cohort of children.

Characteristics of a strong curriculum

At NDNA, we believe there are seven characteristics of a strong curriculum. Here are a couple of examples:

  • The curriculum must be accessible: A well-developed curriculum should enable success for all children, including those with SEND. You should ensure that your curriculum allows all children to develop the skills that they will need for future learning. It may be that certain children with SEND develop these skills at a different rate than their peers, or at different ages, however, a high-quality curriculum allows opportunities for success for all children
  • It must be relevant: It must be based on the skills that children need to learn. These skills should be relevant to children’s lives and in line with the expectations set out in the EYFS. For example, children in the early years are not expected to understand the multiplication of numbers, therefore, it is not relevant to cover this in your curriculum.

To find out more about the characteristics of a strong curriculum and to increase your own knowledge of the curriculum in the early years, come along to NDNA’s webinar; Building your Nursery Curriculum.

We will help you to:

  • Understand the term curriculum in relation to everyday practice
  • Identify appropriate curriculum goals for different age groups
  • Begin to develop a curriculum overview for your own setting, and
  • Identify a bank of strategies to share the curriculum development and ethos with parents, staff and stakeholders.

This 90-minute webinar has been designed to help you develop a high-quality curriculum for your setting. You can see the dates of the training here.

  • England

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