Sunday 29 November 2020

Curricular goals: a working draft

The team at Sheringham Nursery School and Children's Centre have been developing a working draft of our new approach to the curriculum this term. We wanted to make this brief and accessible for parents, children and staff alike. We also wanted it to be ambitious. Here's our one-page summary:
You can read the different steps towards each goal in Sheringham's summary document [PDF]

Of course, there is much more to children's learning than just these 8 goals and there are many important issues to consider about designing a curriculum, putting that design into action, and assessing the children's learning. These are outlined in Sheringham's working draft of our Curriculum and Assessment Policy [PDF]

The children spend the large majority of their time in play and exploration which they initiate, supported by adults and very carefully structured learning resources. One of the ways we check this is high-quality, is by using a range of environmental rating scales including ECERS-3, ECERS-E and ITERS-3. 

We also have a carefully planned approach to Core Books and Core Rhymes and Songs. That means that during the course of the year, children become highly familiar with those books and rhymes, with more progressively complex language structures, rhythms and tunes introduced as the year goes on.

Sheringham is in an area of high mobility, In a typical year, we have 40% mobility. So we are always bringing in new children as the year goes on and supporting them to settle in and access the play and learning we offer. Over 90% of the children are learning English as an additional language. 

All of this is work in progress as the team prepares to implement the revised EYFS from September 2021. 

Find out more - Working with the Revised EYFS: Principles into Practice is available as a free download at


  1. Hi Julian, I was wondering about the justification for having such specific goals that are being applied to ALL children, rather than individualised ones that reflect the needs and interests of each child. Is it appropriate for every child in your setting to learn how to sew using a running stitch for example? This is not a 'having a bash' post - I am genuinely interested in how you have come to this list and why.

    1. Thanks- it’s a good question. Does the section in our policy where we discuss this p.12 answer you in part? There’s no way we’d be urging a child to learn sewing, for example, if they adamantly didn’t want to. We’re also keeping all this under review. My hunch is that children will want to take part but some may need more encouragement than others. But we’ll see. I very much welcome the question, it’s not ‘having a bash’ at all! Thanks.

    2. Sort of but not really. I'm finding the curricular goals at odds with the individualised, flexible, child centred learning ethos that reading your policy is what comes across strongly. Maybe it's because I am seeing them out of context and if I knew the children at Sherringham they would suddenly appear entirely appropriate, but to me they seem to have been plucked out of the air, with slight referencing to some of the DM 2020 descriptors and some consultation between staff and parents. It feels like a backward step regarding planning and how I read the intentions behind DM 2020. I'm not suggesting they aren't all worthy skills that children might benefit from learning and they are all activities that I would happily offer children the opportunity to engage if they chose to (& encourage!) in but I guess what I'm questioning is having them as whole-setting goals rather than individualised ones. I suspect it is because I'm approaching this from the perspective of a childminder, meeting the needs of 3 children rather than 23, 53 or 103! Thanks for taking the time to reply, I appreciate it.

  2. No worries.
    210 children - so very different. It’s why it’s so important to act in a way which is bespoke to our contexts. I’d say the curricular goals are only a proportion of what children do at Sheringham. Most is play which they initiate.

  3. Hi Julian,

    Thank you for this Blog and your many other documents that I have been reading recently.
    Once you decided on you Curricular goals, did you then break these down to create the 'spider web' of skills and understanding?


  4. Thanks for sharing this. Is your list of core books available on your website?

  5. Hi Julian, After looking at your section on CPD and Sarah Mathher's 'Characteristics of effective CPD', I am interested in planning some effective CPD aimed at 'Developing children's self-regulation'. Do you know of any Early Years Self regulation rating tools? As self regulation covers both cognitive and emotional development I was looking for something specific to these skills I would like to develop? Many thanks.

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  7. A preschool school is the first stepping stone for toddlers offering a broad range of activities for children who can acquire all the necessary academic and social skills to help their overall development.