Early years at Durham School
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Welcome to Durham School Dubai, where our philosophy is ‘confidence for life’. We believe confidence is not only achieved through academic attainment but importantly, through the development of good manners, moral integrity, responsibility and kindness. These qualities are crucial in shaping our children into well-rounded, socially competent young men and women.
FOUNDATIONS FOR LIFE
Children entering Durham School Dubai in the Early Years start in Foundation Stage 1, in the September after their third birthday, and progress into Foundation Stage 2 class thereafter. The Early Years Foundation Stage is a two-year phase that quite literally, puts in place the foundations for life-long learning.
In the Early Years at Durham, we believe that children learn best through play-based learning, underpinned by the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. This curriculum is the framework for Early Years education in England. During a typical day, children experience a careful balance of both adult-led sessions and discovery time where children actively participate in carefully planned and well-resourced learning activities, to both consolidate their ideas and explore activities for themselves. This mix helps children gain independence, confidence, critical thinking skills and fosters positive social interactions.
A NURTURING ETHOS
All learning is carefully guided by highly trained and nurturing EYFS teachers and teaching assistants, providing both challenge and support where necessary. Small classes mean we get to know each individual child during this crucial phase of their learning. Through careful observation and planning, we ensure to provide individual challenges and targeted support for each child on their unique learning journey.
In addition to daily focus lessons, children in our Foundation Stage classes enjoy enrichment through additional specialist lessons, such as Arabic and PE, with expert teachers.
In daily Arabic lessons, Foundation Stage children are introduced to Arabic terminology for colours, animal names, sounds and familiar greetings, through songs and rhymes. During weekly PE sessions, children are introduced to a range of transferrable skills, sports and games. Children also begin swimming sessions, which we consider extremely important when living in the UAE with so many pools and beaches to explore. Swimming sessions take place weekly in our purpose-built, heated indoor facilities, with trained specialist swimming teachers.
THE POWER OF STORIES
Throughout the year at Durham, children enjoy engaging topics, carefully planned to match to their changing interests. We use stories and quality texts as a ‘hook’ for children’s learning, to aid understanding for our younger students and also develop language acquisition – which is so crucial at this developmental stage.
TRIPS AND PARTNERSHIP
Children also benefit from school trips to create real life experiences. We visit the Dubai aquarium to support the ‘Under The Sea’ topic and there is a trip to Pizza Express, the climax of our topic ‘Food Glorious Food’. Parents are invited regularly into school to attend parent meetings, workshops and shows, to share in their children’s learning experience. We believe strongly in the importance of the partnership between teachers and parents, to work together for the benefit of the children.
LITERACY AND NUMERACY
As we all know, literacy and numeracy are the keys which unlock lifelong learning and it is our responsibility to equip and enthuse children, and develop these skills in the Foundation Stage. We teach early reading through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds phonics programme.
As soon as children enter the school they are first introduced to the Little Wandle programme that provides the foundation for the teaching of phonics. Children take part in daily sessions incorporating a variety of activities and planned games that build an awareness of sound, and develop the focused listening and attention skills so vital for early reading. As the year develops, children are also introduced to oral blending through engaging games.
When ready, children begin learning more complex sounds to start their phoneme journey. As children progress they have a daily half hour phonics lesson which builds on the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme. This continues into Year One and Year Two (and thereafter where necessary), to ensure children become fluent readers.
Teaching reading is a priority and right from FS1 children develop the skills needed to navigate around a picture book, by turning pages and discussing what they can see. As they progress, children read from carefully selected books to support them in developing reading fluency, comprehension and understanding, all of which help them to gain confidence in their reading ability.
Foundation stage children are regular visitors to our gorgeous and wonderfully resourced library. Here, children develop an understanding of fiction and non-fiction texts and have lots of time to explore the large variety of books available.
Lunchtimes at Durham are also a learning opportunity. Children go to our bespoke school dining hall and feed themselves independently, using cutlery and making their own food choices from the selection available. The dining hall comes to life at these important times and children are encouraged to socialise and gain the skills associated with polite dining.
We encourage children to be independent in the Early Years at Durham, helping them to develop a sense of curiosity, to enjoy learning, express creativity and use their imagination in all that they do. We want every child that enters into the Early Years to have a unique, nurturing and purposeful learning journey. Why not come and visit our Early Years department and see the learning for yourself?