Early Years Curriculum

In the Early Years, children learn through playing and exploring and we build our day to day practice to reflect the children's interest, meeting the key areas of the curriculum while responding to where their curiosity and exploration take them.  

The curriculum is statutory and is separated into seven areas of learning and development, three prime - Personal, Social & Emotional Development; Communications and Language; Physical Development - and four specific areas - Literacy; Mathematics; Understanding the World and Expressive Arts & Design.  All of these are explained in more detail in the presentation below.

We work really closely with our families to help Ellingham children achieve in these key areas. Our observations and conversations in school help us make assessments and we record our photos, videos and comments on Tapestry, an online app, which is shared with families weekly.  The app also enables families to contribute to their child’s journal making the assessment process a shared record.

There are two parent/carers' consultations as well as curriculum briefings and a report at the end of the year.  The team are always available to talk at the beginning and end of the day or via their year group email. 

Early years curriculum slides

Our Day

Learning through play

Throughout the morning and afternoon sessions, children have plenty of opportunities to explore their learning through self-directed play and discovery. We are lucky to have an engaging and exciting outdoor learning space and children are free to choose whether to play and discover indoors or outdoors. 

There are three short 5 to 10 minute carpet sessions throughout the day when teachers share a learning concept with the children. These learning sessions may introduce a new sound (phonics), explore a number concept, bring a story to life and look closely at the world around us.

Resources are available to develop all areas of the curriculum and are adapted to follow the interest of the children, whilst offering challenge and encouraging the children to follow their own enquiries and interests.

Fruit and water is available for the children throughout the day and children are encouraged to develop their independence by selecting this themselves, but staff are always available to lend a helping hand!


A typical day:

 8:40     Welcome and registration

9:00      Carpet session - phonics

9:30       Free-flow (indoors/outdoors)

10:15     Snack-time with story

10:30     Free-flow (indoors/outdoors)

11:00     Trim trail (gross-motor)

11:45      Lunch time

12:45      Registration

1:00         Carpet session - maths

1:30        Free-flow (indoors/outdoors)

2:15        Tidy up

2:30         Carpet session - wider curriculum

2:45         Story Time

3:05         Home Time

Once a week, the children have a P.E. session in the school hall, led by their class teacher.

Reading books and library books go home on a daily basis, as learning to read is very much a partnership that we share with parents.

All children in Reception are entitled to a free hot lunch which is eaten in the school hall. The Reception lunchtime starts at 11:45 am. During this time, the Reception children have the hall to themselves with staff on hand to help them. After lunch is eaten, the children have time on our wonderful Trim Trail, a separate play area adjoining the main playground. Again, there are dedicated staff on hand to oversee this playtime. This play experience gives the Reception children the opportunity to interact with the wider school community and say hello to friends and family in other year groups. 

Sounds Write app

The Sounds Write app offers games and learning activities to do at home and is available to download for free here