by DiscoveryRE, 24 May, 2018

How can Jigsaw, the mindful approach to PSHE and Discovery RE support schools in implementing the recommendations and findings of the “Bold Beginnings” report, 2017?

In January 2017, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) commissioned an Ofsted-wide review of the curriculum. Its aim was to provide fresh insight into leaders’ curriculum intentions, how these are implemented and the impact on outcomes for pupils. The “Bold Beginnings” report specifically focuses on the Reception Year and the extent to which a school’s curriculum for four- and five-year-olds prepares them for the rest of their education and beyond. The report was published in November 2017.

Within the executive summary, the report speaks extensively about the importance of reading, phonics, early writing and mathematics. It also goes on to say: “Play, for example, was used primarily for developing children’s personal, social and emotional skills. They learned to investigate the world around them, both physically and imaginatively.”

The key findings also specify how “play was an important part of the curriculum” and how head teachers knew which aspects of the curriculum could be learned through play.

The Jan Lever Group comprises 3 companies (Jigsaw PSHE, Discovery RE, Jan Lever Education Consultancy and Training Ltd) dedicated to improving learning and life-chances for children and young people.

Jigsaw, the mindful approach to Personal, Social, Health Education includes Early Years planning which uses play extensively. Opportunities are provided for adult- and child-led activities, and suggested resources such as outdoor and role play are also detailed in every session.

Example Set

Discovery RE also includes these play-based opportunities, with the same planning format utilised for post-teaching session activities. Later in the report, it states “All the schools visited used role play effectively to increase children’s opportunities to talk”. Both programmes utilise role-play regularly so that children learn to empathise and put themselves in the place of the people, believers or situation they have been learning about.

Within the Key Findings section of the report, it states that “the head teachers prioritised language and literacy as the cornerstones of learning. They ensured that sufficient time was given to developing children’s spoken language”.

Both Jigsaw PSHE and Discovery RE see discussion and linguistic-based learning as vital to children’s development, both within Early Years and throughout the child’s school life. All learning, in both programmes, involves teacher-led discussion within the input, with the children learning to take turns, listen and respect their peers’ rights to an opinion. Specific vocabulary is embedded within the planning so that children’s ability to express themselves using appropriate terms and phrases is enhanced. Discovery RE also has an enquiry-by-enquiry glossary included which supports staff in ensuring that their vocabulary and subject knowledge is secure, and encourages them to reinforce the use of religious vocabulary.

The key findings also emphasise the use of stories in children’s learning. Texts and stories are used extensively throughout both programmes to give children an insight into situations or experiences which may be outside their own. In Discovery RE, the Summer 1 enquiry specifically utilises a story from a different culture or religion each week and every story is provided in child-friendly language to ensure the key messages from that event in that culture or religion are portrayed in a way our youngest learners can understand.

All the schools visited planned a judicious balance of direct whole-class teaching, small-group teaching, partner work and play.

Both Jigsaw PSHE and Discovery have a mix of these teaching and learning elements – see the examples below.

The report goes on to discuss the importance of Reception as a “unique and important year”:

It is a time when leaders and staff establish the rules, routines and expectations of learning that will serve children well and follow them through the rest of their formal schooling.

The first Puzzle (unit) in Jigsaw PSHE (Being Me in My World), works on exactly that and can enable the setting to come together to agree behaviour expectations and routines. This can enable even the youngest children to realise that they are part of the wider school community and therefore the school has the same expectations of them in terms of how they treat each other and behave.

The report goes on to specify how important it is to school and early years leaders to “prepare children for the years ahead by enabling them to become successful and well-motivated”. Jigsaw ensures that children are aware of their own special uniqueness and abilities (a sentiment echoed in the Autumn 1 Discovery RE Enquiry “What makes people special?”). They learn, in an age-appropriate way to set goals, work towards them, celebrate their successes and learn the strategies and resilience to deal with setbacks.

When further discussing the curriculum, the report found that successful schools “connect to the wider school community through Reception children’s participation in whole-school events and celebrations, setting the rules and expectations early on for behaviour in the school as a whole”.

As discussed above, Jigsaw PSHE can enable all children to feel part of the school community, as the whole school studies the same Puzzle (learning content) at the same time. This commences with a whole school assembly which can include all children to ensure that the school as a whole is aware of the content and focus of the learning.

Explore the Jigsaw Families ProgrammeThe Jigsaw Families Programme includes parents and carers in their children’s learning and development at home and at school.

The report also states that leaders verbalise a need to “develop children’s confidence, concentration and ability to listen and follow instructions”. The mindfulness philosophy and practice embedded within the Jigsaw Programme help children to become aware of their thoughts and feelings in each moment, to relax their bodies and quiet their minds, improving their focus.

This especially happens during the “Calm Me” time when the children learn to stop and reflect, the chime acting as a stimulus for this.

Best practice cited in the report speaks again of children who can “speak clearly, taking turns and listening to what others say”. Sharing circle times with the children, using the Jigsaw Friends, also allows children to learn when to listen and when it is their turn to speak. These activities embed confidence in children who may find it more difficult to speak up in other situations.

Where outcomes by the age of 5 were above the national average, the report found that staff focussed on delivering certain elements of the Reception curriculum exceptionally well. Whilst language acquisition is vital, and can certainly be enhanced by both Discovery RE and Jigsaw, the mindful approach to PSHE, as detailed above, the aspect in which Jigsaw can provide the most significant support is in “securing children’s personal, social and emotional readiness to learn, including resilience, perseverance, concentration, the ability to listen, to take turns and to cooperate.

Throughout Jigsaw PSHE, these skills are embedded and enhanced at an age-appropriate level for our young learners. Full mapping is included within Jigsaw to enable practitioners to identify exactly which elements of Development Matters and the Early Learning Goals are expected outcomes of each and every lesson.

For more information see: and
or contact the Jan Lever Group at
+44(0)1202 377193


Alison Harris, Senior Consultant Jigsaw PSHE and Discovery RE
May 2018

All quotations in italics from “Bold Beginnings: The Reception curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding primary schools”, November 2017, Document No. 170045, accessed at on 17.5.18

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