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Date: November 12, 2022

The Impact of a Child-Centred Curriculum in KS1

Discover the impact of developing a child-centred, play-based curriculum in KS1 on both levels of engagement, of both children and staff, and progress towards end of Year Two expectations. In this blog, Joanna Redfern, Executive Headteacher of All Saints CE Infant and Pre-School and Selston CE Infant and Nursery School in Nottinghamshire reflects on how they have achieved this.

The impact so far:

The development of a child-centred, play-based Curriculum has brought many changes to our work in Key Stage One. I see the impact – in happy, lively and engaged children, each day as I walk around our schools. They tell me that they love their independent learning time – so lunchtime is no longer the favourite part of the day!

Data from Leuven Scale observations (used across the EYFS and KS1) shows increased levels of engagement and well-being, which invariably leads to deeper learning. Our focus on collaborative working (which has to be explicitly taught) has improved the interpersonal and social skills of the children.

Sensing the desire of staff to find and develop an expertise in them, our children have become far more confident and willing to take appropriate risks. They are no longer asked to sit for long periods whilst listening to teachers or filling in worksheets –and this change of routine corresponds with an improvement in behaviour. The curriculum responds far better now to the needs of young boys who can now spend much more of the day outdoors, learning the basic skills of reading, writing and mathematics without necessarily realising it! Overall, school is more dynamic, effective and fun.

We can demonstrate that the children across both schools are making better progress. This is especially true of those who have been with us since the beginning of Pre-School or Nursery, and those who might previously have found it hardest to learn. As inclusive schools, we focus on our children as individuals and the curriculum we have developed support this. The accompanying use of assessment tools means that we can identify and celebrate even the smallest steps in progress.

child-centred, play-based Curriculum

Staff are unanimous that, despite the challenges of working in this way, they could never return to the pedagogy of the past. They are motivated by the knowledge that this is best for our children, enthusiastic about what it means for them and inspired by the creativity around them. We support each another to solve problems and develop our skills, building consistency of practice across each school. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenge of lockdown and social distancing, our shared commitment to the approach we have developed together is greater than ever. It has sustained us at a difficult time, supporting the health and well-being of the whole school community.

We began this journey wondering how to strike the balance between child and adult-led activities. What matters to us now is not who leads, but what works. With a shared commitment, careful planning and hard work, the child-centred, play-based curriculum we have developed at All Saints and Selston does indeed produce great outcomes for children.

Do you offer a play-based curriculum in Key Stage 1? In previous blogs, Jo describes how she and her team moved towards a child-centred, play-based curriculum in Key Stage One. Read how they did it here:

Play-Based Curriculum in Key Stage 1

The Learning Environment

The Daily Routine and ‘Plan, Do, Review’


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