Early Years Learning Pathways

Early Years Curriculum

Intent – What are we trying to achieve through our curriculum?

We aim to provide a largely play-based curriculum that is non-directive and progressively developing the children’s interests holistic with all areas of learning interconnected.

Our curriculum aims to ensure:

  • The best for every child – all children deserve to have an equal chance at success
  • High quality care – the child’s experience is central to the thinking of every early year’s practitioner
  • Access to communication, offering opportunities for children to interact and to respond to the actions of others.
  • Children’s complex physical and sensory needs are met – working closely with their families and therapists to further develop an understanding of children’s strengths and how to meet their access needs.

We aim to provide a developmental curriculum which will play a diagnostic role in establishing which of the three St Giles Curriculum pathways the learner will begin in Year 3, Pre-Formal, Semi-Formal or Formal.


Curriculum Design:

There are 7 areas of learning and development identified in the EYFS framework:

  • Communication and language (CL)

CL supports children to develop their understanding and expressive language. A language rich environment is provided and differentiated to meet each child’s individual needs. Developing communication skills linked to speaking and listening is a key part of the work we do within the department.

  • Personal, social and emotional development (PSED)

PSED helps children to develop a positive sense of themselves and others. We aim to support children to be as confident and as independent as possible. Activities support children to develop their social skills, a respect for others and the curiosity to want to explore and learn.

  • Physical development (PD)

PD helps children to learn by being active. This helps children to gain confidence, develop their coordination and movement. 

  • Literacy

We provide many activities to support the development of reading and writing skills. We have a wide range of books and other reading materials within the department which children can access independently and with others. The development of writing skills is supported not only via traditional writing activities but creatively through, for example the use of computers and messy activities.

  • Mathematics (MD)

Children are provided with a wide range of activities to help them to develop an understanding of number, using number and shape, space and measures.

  • Understanding of the World ( UoW)

UoW provides children with the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world. To help children to do this we enable them to use a range of tools and technology safely. We provide opportunities for them to encounter creatures, people, plants and objects in their natural environments and in real life situations. Children are supported to participate in practical ‘experiments’ and to explore a wide range of materials.

  • Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)

EAD enables children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. Children are also provided with opportunities and support to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance imaginative and role play activities, design and technology.

Curriculum documents that inform practice includes the writings of Nicola Grove and Keith Park, the Northern Ireland Curriculum for PMLD Learners, Routes for learning, learning through Play, Flo Longhorn, EQUALS curriculum materials and B-squared. Additionally, Early Years Practitioners at St Giles use the school’s Pre-Formal, Semi-Formal and Formal Curriculum documents to support their planning.

The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum is holistic and delivered through a cycle of termly classroom cross-curricular topics that provide engaging opportunities for learning and enable children to actively participate in inclusive whole school activities.