Year 1 is an exciting, transitional year with plenty of opportunity for purposeful learning, child-initiated projects and fun! To ease the jump from Reception to Year 1, we use ‘Negotiated Learning’ for the first part of the year. This takes the freeflow format that children will have experienced in Reception, but ensures the children take responsibility for their learning: they are able to choose from a variety of learning activities in the classroom and are encouraged to complete them to their best ability. Each child has a ‘Learning agreement’ with a series of learning skills on it, and he/she is responsible for making sure they have used these skills in their independent learning at some point in the week. Through this and through focused group work with adults, each child will do Writing and Maths tasks each day, as well as a host of other activities to support their learning.
As the year progresses we gradually adopt a more traditional learning format, with children. However, we ensure that our children continue to be independent learners who take responsibility for their own progress, with each learner being able to talk about how they have developed and what they are aiming for next.
Throughout Year 1 we make sure that our learning is purposeful and follows an overarching theme for each term. We set high expectations to prepare them for their school life ahead, but we also have a lot of fun! All of our learning is taught through Kagan cooperative structures, which means that every child is actively engaged in lessons. It also ensures that teamwork and social skills can be used to benefit each child’s progress.
We use the Optima Reading programme to make sure that Year 1 provides children with all the tools they need to be effective readers. Optima Reading allows children to use phonetic methods to read common words and to tackle unknown words with confidence – an essential skill for the Phonics Screening Test that children take at the end of the year. Optima also enhances the vocabulary that children use in their speech and their writing, leading to competent writers further down the school.
Our Projects in Year 1 are child-led: the children think of who and how they could help, vote on the final choice, and then spend the rest of the year planning and implementing ways to help their community. The project is a fantastic way of incorporating lots of areas of the curriculum into one, the overarching theme for the whole year. It also ensures that our children end Year 1 with the satisfaction and pride of their own ideas producing something that made a difference to others.