Many settings have promoted themselves as ‘inquiry based’. Here at The Abbey, we wanted to go one step further and ensure that our curriculum is at the forefront of educational practice and connected at a global level to education worldwide. Little Knellies Nursery are proud to be part of The Abbey’s continuing journey as a world-leading International Baccalaureate (IB) School and we are thrilled that we are officially recognised and accredited as a Primary Years Programme (PYP) setting.

So, what is the PYP?
The PYP is an internationally recognised framework for learning and focuses upon the ways in which children learn best. Voice, Choice and Ownership for students sits at the heart of practice within our setting. The children are the ones who direct the learning and how they engage with the themes. This enables them to make meaningful connections in their learning between contexts and subject areas. This being said, it does not mean that the staff await instruction of what we are going to learn – more that they work to offer a tailored and responsive curriculum, whilst delivering our Outcomes and Expectations (our bespoke curriculum of skills and knowledge). 

In Early Years, we felt an immediate connection with this approach to learning. Children being the directors of their learning has been a leading principle of Early Years practice for a number of years. However, its quality has been, and continues to be, varied. Rather than the fluffy type of response or ‘I want to learn about unicorns’ approach, we wanted to ensure academic rigour remains at the heart of what we do. 

Each new unit of inquiry begins with a provocation; this may be an activity, a photo, an object, a book. The practitioners in our setting then skilfully ask children to begin to shape their questioning around the theme. Learning how to ask questions is itself a very demanding skill. We like to capture these musings through a tool called our ‘Floorbook’. This is in essence our class scrapbook of learning, which notes the questions and findings of all children in our class. Every contribution is highly valued and given dedicated reflection time in our weekly curriculum. Outcomes from these sessions are then reflected upon by the team working in the classroom. This enables them to deliver lessons and activities which will not only help to address questions and thinking around a subject, but will also offer stretch and breadth to each individual’s knowledge and understanding. 

The other great trait of the PYP is that students and staff are continually promoting what it takes to be a great inquirer. This is reflected in The Abbey’s Learner Profile. Attributes such as resilience and independence as well as being reflective, caring and knowledgeable are all aspired to and nurtured through our provision. In Early Years, being independent isn’t just about a child mastering putting on a coat or even hanging it up on their pegs by themselves, no mean feat admittedly! Moreso independence is the way they access resources, thinking about their suitability for the task at hand or even proactively asking the questions that deepen their understanding.

Inquiry based learning is an exciting journey for the learner and the teacher; being accredited is not the final destination in our journey and we look forward to showing you what it looks like here at Little Knellies. Do come and visit!

By Isabel Archer