St Michael's

Church of England Academy

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In Nurture Nursery we have a play based curriculum.

Our curriculum ethos and pedagogy is a child centred approach, learning through play. 


Here at St. Michael's we have high expectations, hopes and aspirations for each child to fulfil their full potential. We provide an array of opportunities to promote learning and development, through provocations, playfulness and nurturing.


We use the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to ensure

high standards of quality education are met.


By adopting consistent and effective teaching strategies we ensure all children have the opportunity to engage in motivating experiences,  learn new skills build on their experiences and develop as individuals. We support each child to become confident and capable learners, in our setting and further, we this by starting to develop children's perseverance and resilience through our play based curriculum


We believe in meticulous planning, with differentiation, to utilise every opportunity, alongside this we also practise planning in the moment, where knowledgeable staff draw

on their training to extend learning, and intervene effectively to support

the child’s next steps at that point of learning.  


Children's interests inform our continuous provision and staff design an environment which is full of provocations, curiosity and invitations to investigate. Our children have the freedom to explore, this encourages deep engagement which supports their learning and development. Alongside this staff plan and deliver engaging adult-led sessions, which always have an emphasis on personal, social and emotional development and communication and language.


Our planning also has a strong emphasis on the 'Characteristics of Effective Learning’, children’s well-being and involvement and Schemas.


Staff are the children's partners in play and through peer observations staff reflect on their ability to enthuse and motivate children. During play staff use sustained shared thinking at every opportunity to develop children's ideas and problem solving skills. This develops and inspires children to believe in themselves, have 'can do' attitudes and a 'have a go' approach to learning.


We have designed every aspect of our curriculum to be inclusive and to provide a safe, supportive environment for all children, where children, parents/carers and staff work together to ensure our children can succeed.


Most importantly our curriculum is fun, fascinating and interesting for all.



What is an Early Years Pedagogy?


Most simply, pedagogy is about how we educate children and support their development. It’s the techniques and strategies we use to provide opportunities for development and our relationships and interactions with children.


Here at St. Michael's we researched many different pedagogies and continually reflect on our Early Years practices. We take onboard new initiatives and engage in what inspires us and what the children in our community need to flourish, remembering that pedagogies don’t necessarily disagree with one another, they can actually compliment each other. In fact, research suggests that general pedagogical approaches with lots of different influences tend to be the most effective.


Here at St. Michael's we didn't just pick one and run with it we embraced a few, including:



Friedrich Froebel was a German educator who invented the concept of kindergarten. The Froebelian approach promotes the importance of play, because it allows children to understand their world by directly experiencing it.


What are the basic principles?

  • Childhood is more than just preparation for adulthood.

  • All learning is linked, and so every different area of learning can impact others.

  • Child-initiated play is very important as it means that the child is motivated and engaged.

  • Always start with what children can do, not what they can’t.



Rudolf Steiner was an Austrian educationalist, who set up his first school for the workers of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart. Steiner believed in an environment that is calm, peaceful, familiar, predictable and unhurried.

What are the basic principles?

  • Learning should be experienced through the course of regular daily tasks and activities.

  • The environment is central, and shouldn’t overstimulate children. It should be familiar to them.

  • Natural, open-ended resources feature heavily, leaving room for the child’s imagination.

  • A homely environment is preferred in order to make children feel welcome, and each child should have a place where their things belong.


Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia approach was developed by Loris Malaguzzi alongside parents after World War II. It is a heavily child-centric approach, with a focus on the many ways children can express themselves. The practitioner is an observer and promoter of the child’s interests.

What are the basic principles?

  • Every child should be seen as strong, capable and resilient, and ready to explore.

  • Children are natural communicators, and it’s important that we understand the ‘100 languages of children’ – the many different ways children express themselves.

  • Children can build their own learning, and require adults to help support it, not instruct.

  • The focus on exploratory and child-led play is meant to improve problem-solving skills in particular.


Forest Schools

The forest school pedagogy focuses on giving children the opportunity to learn through hands-on experiences in a woodland environment. Originating in Denmark in the 1950s, the forest school ethos is now seen throughout the world.



Albert Bandura’s work is mainly focused on something called Social Learning Theory, which is all about behaviour. In particular, his experiments have shown the importance of adults as models, whose behaviour children observe, consider, and then later often copy.

What are the basic principles?

  • Children were shown by Bandura to copy aggressive actions made by those they trust unless those actions were criticised. This led to the theory of adults as models for behaviour.

  • This includes modelling calm, respectful behaviour, as well as the way we interact with one another.

  • Bandura also emphasises the importance of displaying thinking out loud to show thought process, and for adults to have problem-solving discussions between themselves to demonstrate cooperation.


The Curiosity Approach

The Curiosity Approach is a pedagogy developed by Lydnsey Hellyn and Stephanie Bennett. It takes ideas from Steiner, Reggio, Montessori and Te Whāriki, but most importantly it’s about providing a safe and comfortable environment for children to be curious.

What are the basic principles?

  • One of the key principles is using natural materials and neutral backgrounds that prevent overstimulation.

  • Children should become independent thinkers who can explore their environment with curiosity.

  • A homely environment is the key to making children feel comfortable and safe.


Athey and Schemas

Chris Athey built on the early work of Piaget to popularise the idea of schemas, the fascinations that children obsess over during different stages in their development. Understanding and encouraging children to develop within these schemas is key to this early years pedagogy.

What are the basic principles?

  • The main thread of Athey’s thinking was about identifying and encouraging these patterns of repeated behaviour that we call schemas.

  • Athey’s schemas were: dynamic vertical, dynamic back and forth, dynamic circular, going over and under, going round a boundary, going through a boundary, containing and enveloping space.

  • The adult has an incredibly important role to play in the schema framework. They must observe, understand and then provide opportunities for the child to explore their schema further.

Wait there’s more…

We have also explored other philosophies and thinkers that have impacted on Early Years education over the years, including:

  • Piaget – Helped us understand how a child constructs a mental model of the world and brought in many theories on assessment.
  • Vygotsky – Focused on the value of play and how children learn based on their environment.
  • Watson – Developed behaviourism – that learning is developed through how we connect things.
  • Bowlby – Focused on attachment and how these close relationships aid development.
  • Freud – Had many ground breaking and controversial ideas, connecting relationships with development of a unique personality.
  • Bruner – Coined the term scaffolding and expanded the idea of children as active learners.
  • Bronfenbrenner – Gave us a better understanding of the effect of the environment on the child.
  • Erikson – Developed various stages of development with positive vs negative potential results at each stage.
  • HighScope – Advocates for daily routine and daily plan-do-review.