Home Page

Early Years

Organisation of Classes

Our Foundation Stage is split into Nursery and Reception Classes. We currently have one Nursery Class (Clover Class) and one Reception Class (Buttercup Class).

Our Nursery Class has a daily 3 hour morning session from 9am until 12pm. Our Nursery Class currently has 26 children taught by one qualified teacher and one Level 3 LSA.

Our Reception Class takes up to 30 children aged between 4 and 5 years old and is taught by one qualified teacher supported by at least one LSA. Reception have a full day session from 8.55am until 3.15pm.


The Learning Environment

Our learning environment is large and spacious both indoors and outside. The areas are carefully organised to enable the children to develop and demonstrate characteristics of effective learning. Children have free access to all areas, supervised and supported by a member of staff at all times. Children learn by leading their own play and by taking part in play that is guided by adults.



We strive for parents to feel secure in the knowledge that their child is well cared for, safe and happy at school. To that end, we work closely with parents to support children’s transition into our setting. We undertake visits to each child in their nursery or pre-school setting during the summer term prior to joining us at Hillmead. We also run a series of Stay and Play sessions for prospective children and their parents throughout the summer term, as well as a ‘move up’ morning for children only and a parent information evening in July.


At the start of the new academic year, we operate a phased transition to full time school over a period of approximately two to three weeks. This process is flexible and is tailored to meet the needs of individual children, as required. During this time, teachers and support staff visit each child at home for an informal chat about starting school, to discuss routines and answer questions. This is an invaluable opportunity to get to know the children in their familiar setting and find out about their needs and interests.


Early in the autumn term a ‘Meet the Teacher’ session is held in school to further inform parents of the routines and expectations of Early Years at Hillmead. A parent handout is available as a follow up for this session.


Parents as Partners

We encourage parents to take an active role in their child’s learning. Parents are able to share in learning experiences through ‘Stay & Play’ and ‘Drop Everything and Read’ sessions, sharing assemblies, volunteering in school and parent workshops. Parents receive regular feedback on their child’s learning and progress in various ways; for example, we regularly share the children’s learning experiences in school via the online Tapestry system and parents can also use this system to comment on their child’s learning or share photographs of experiences from home. ‘Wow! Moment’ and ‘My favourite thing…’ cards are also opportunities for parents to share successes and feedback from home. Our Focus Child Observation system gives parents a further opportunity each term to share experiences from home, ask questions about their child’s ongoing development and receive written feedback from teachers.

Teacher consultations are held with parents twice a year in the autumn and spring terms and there are regular opportunities for parents to look through work and books in the classrooms. A written report is provided for each child at the end of the academic year.

Children have regular opportunities to look at their learning journals and make comments about their learning.

We pride ourselves on our open door policy in Early Years at Hillmead and value the regular contact we have with parents at the beginning and end of the school day.



Throughout Nursery and Reception, we follow the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (2012) curriculum. Great emphasis is placed on the Characteristics of Effective Learning:

  • Playing and Exploring – the engagement of the child. Finding out, playing with what they know and being willing to ‘have a go’.
  • Active Learning – the motivation of the child. Being involved, concentrating, persevering and enjoying achieving.
  • Creating and Thinking Critically – how the child is thinking. Having their own ideas, making links in their learning, choosing their own ways to do things.


Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.


Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:

  • Communication and language;
  • Physical development; and
  • Personal, social and emotional development.


These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.


As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:

  • Literacy;
  • Mathematics;
  • Understanding the world; and
  • Expressive arts and design.


These 7 areas are used to plan your child’s learning and activities. This is a little like the curriculum in KS1 and KS2 but it is suitable for very young children and is designed to be flexible so that adults can follow the children’s unique needs and interests.


Please take a look at ‘What to expect, When?’ for guidance on your child’s learning and development.


The curriculum in Early Years is organised so that children learn through a combination of child and adult led activities. Between one and two hours each day is given to Discovery Time when the children can choose their own activities, accessing resources independently and meeting their own challenges. It is very important that children develop social skills such as turn-taking, sharing and independence which help them a great deal in their next stages of learning.


The EYFS curriculum is delivered through cross-curricular topics and activities are carefully planned to meet the needs of all the children. These include whole class sessions, small group activities and independent activities. An overview and newsletter is sent home each term to inform parents and suggest ways to support their child’s learning at home. These newsletters are posted on the class pages of the website.

The Hillmead EYFS topics for the academic year 2017/18 are shown below:


Autumn 1


Who am I?

Where am I?

Autumn 2



Spring 1


The Land of Make Believe

Spring 2


I need a hero!

Shake, Rattle & Roll

Summer 1


Living Worlds

Summer 2


Look at where I live

Who am I? My family. Why I am special. My school. My Friends. Family Celebrations.

Celebrations. Favourite celebrations. Different types of celebrations.

Magic, myths & folklore – traditional tales, books & stories



Superheroes.   Story & Film superheroes.   Real Life heroes (people who help us)



Habitats. Gardens, Rivers, Ponds




Location, maps, local environment, habitats




Phonics teaching and learning are a key part of learning in Early Years and help to develop early reading and writing skills. At Hillmead our core scheme for Phonics is Letters and Sounds and children are taught a phonics session daily. We provide information and support for parents in this approach through a letter home and an additional teacher led information session. We also hold a drop-in session later in the year for further support and advice. We inform parents via a whiteboard at the classroom door of the new sounds children are learning each day and, in addition, send home sheets and activity ideas for parents to support learning at home.

In Reception, children take home a reading book to share each day and parents are encouraged to read with their child daily and record their comments and feedback in a reading journal. We provide an information sheet for parents on appropriate ways to support their child in reading at home and offer teacher consultations for more advice, should parents require. Children read regularly with adults in school and Guided Reading sessions are held weekly. Teachers assess the children’s progress and communicate progress and next steps to parents through the Reading Record.


Observation & Assessment

Ongoing assessment is an integral part of the learning and development process. It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests, learning styles and to shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations. At Hillmead we make systematic observations of children’s learning experiences both informally and formally and use these observations and assessments to identify learning priorities and plan relevant and motivating learning experiences for each child. Each child’s level of development is assessed against the early learning goals (above) and practitioners will indicate whether children are meeting expected levels of development for their age. A letter is sent home to parents explaining this process in Hillmead Early Years.


We encourage parents to use ’What to expect, When?’ to support their understanding of learning and development in the Early Years.



“Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage make rapid gains in their learning and confidently pursue activities of their own choice as well as those directed by adults. They are developing good literacy and numeracy skills.” Ofsted July 2014


“The proportion of children achieving a good level of development by the time they start in Year 1 is well above the national average.” Ofsted July 2014

Healthy Schools Activemark 2008 Investor in People