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Early Years Reception Class

The Reception Curriculum at Stisted

Early Years Foundation Stage

Children in our Reception Class learn through play, by observing each other and the adults supporting them as well as through guided learning and direct teaching. It is the final year of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and builds on learning that has taken place both at home and in any pre-school or nursery settings the children have attended.

The learning environment


Our indoor and outdoor environment has been carefully designed to fire children's imaginations and ignite their innate curiosity to play, learn and explore. It is filled with materials, resources, objects and activities that enable children to create, investigate, think critically, make choices and express themselves. This is because a well-planned learning environment is an important aspect of our early years provision.


Our garden centre : imaginative play in our outdoor area


Children have access to a range of areas including a designated outdoor area, an indoor classroom, an allotment, a Montessori environment and a local Essex Wildlife Trust Reserve within walking distance for Forest School activities.


Inviting areas that stimulate curiosity and intrigue


Adults working with our children are vital to children's development. They contribute to a nurturing ethos underpinned by the school's core values of connection, belonging, kindness, compassion, hope and aspiration.


The outdoor area


Access to daily outdoor learning is an important aspect of our provision and ideal for children's physical development as well as their health and well-being.



Early Years outdoor area designed to help with children's physical development

The outdoor area can also be used to children the opportunity to develop and apply their literacy skills.


A child writing their sign in their outdoor cafe/restaurant


Forest Schools

All children in the Reception Class attend Forest School on a weekly basis.


Forest School is a child-centred learning process that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular outdoor activity sessions. It is a long-term programme that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.


Forest School has a developmental ethos shared by thousands of trained practitioners around the world, who are constantly developing their learning styles and skills to support new and imaginative learners. Its roots reach back to the open-air culture, seen as a way of life in Scandinavia where Forest School began.




Forest School location, Essex wildlife reserve, Stisted


We are very fortunate to have Mrs Coulson who is a trained Forest School teacher and a Forest School location within walking distance of the school. The class engage in Forest School activities on a weekly basis.


The allotment

Our early years children are regularly found attending to the school allotment area. They learn about different vegetables, how they grow, as well as digging, weeding, planting and harvesting.


School allotment


The summer house located next to the allotment provides a further outdoor classroom facility.



The indoor environment

The Reception classroom has been designed to be welcoming and inviting as well as providing children with a sense of order and routine. Thoughtfully planned areas enrich different aspects of the curriculum including a role play area to stimulate communication, language and children’s imaginations, a maths area, literacy area and a place to create, design and make.


Materials and resources are carefully presented to aid independence. Children are encouraged to make decisions for themselves, select equipment they need and return it in its rightful place.


Materials in our Reception classroom that children can select to create and express their ideas


The indoor classroom is laid out to reflect the different areas of learning. The indoor classroom does not simply mirror the outdoor learning space. Certain activities are more suited to outside such as physical development and cannot be easily replicated indoors.


Likewise, indoor learning has many advantages for activities that require quite and calm areas that use small equipment that cannot survive the elements. 


Materials in our Reception classroom that children can use to develop their number sense 


There are opportunities for children to learn as a whole class, for example, phonics, Forest school, circle time, and music and movement.


There are also times of the day where children engage in a work cycle where they choose activities from a task board by selecting pre-determined (and differentiated) learning tasks.


Continuous provision is also an important element of the school day where children choose from a rich range of activities enabling them to work, play and collaborate with others. 


Our Reception classroom has a wet area for more messy play where children can paint and create 

Continuous provision supplemented by enhanced provision. Enhanced provision is where  new materials and activities that are injected into the classroom and changed regularly to ignite curiosity, interest and spark new learning opportunities.


​​​​​There is a rhythm and routine to a typical week in our early years setting and the balance changes through the year as the children develop, grow and become increasingly ready to start formal schooling in Year 1. For example, children are gradually introduced to the task boards where they self manage more formal learning tasks to ensure there is rigour and breadth to their curricular offer.



We have a Montessori environment that is used to enhance our Early Years provision. It offers aspects such as practical life and sensorial development as well as early literacy and numeracy skills. The classroom is neutral, open plan and has a distinct sense of order and harmony. Everything has a purpose and a place. 


Children are able to engage in their own learning, progress at their own pace and discover learning outcomes through repetition and practice. Learning in the Montessori environment is largely active, individually paced, often self-correcting and tailored to the needs and interests of each individual child.




Montessori saw the importance of the manipulation of objects to aid the child in better understanding their environment. Through the child’s work with sensorial material, the child is helped to make abstractions. They are helped in making distinctions in their environment, and the child is given the knowledge not through word of mouth, but through their own experiences. 


Sensorial Exercises were designed by Montessori to cover every quality that can be perceived by the senses such as size, shape, composition, texture, loudness or softness, matching, weight, temperature, etc.

Materials to support sensorial development


In the Visual Sense Exercises, the child learns how to visually discriminate differences between similar objects and differing objects.


In the tactile sense exercises, the child learns through his sense of touch. In the baric sense exercises, the child learns to feel the difference of pressure or weight of different objects. This sense is heightened through the use of a blindfold or of closing your eyes.


In the thermic sense exercises, the child works to refine his sense of temperature.

In the auditory sense exercises, the child discriminates between different sounds. In doing these different exercises, the child will refine and make them more sensitive to the sounds in his environment.


Materials to support practical life skills, left to right eye tracking and fine motor skills

The purpose and aim of practical life is to help the child gain control in the coordination of their movement, and help the child to gain independence. Practical life exercises also aid the growth and development of the child's intellect and concentration and will in turn also help the child develop in an orderly way of thinking.

The Curriculum


We have designed a Reception Curriculum that builds on nursery or pre-school provision and gets children ready to embark on the Year 1 curriculum. We believe this gives children a bold beginning to life at school that helps them to achieve beyond the 17 Early Learning goals outlined in the Department of Education’s Early Years Foundation Stage framework.


An overview of the Reception curriculum can be downloaded using one of the links at the top of this page.


Learning and development in the early years setting is facilitated through an environment that fosters positive relationships, the uniqueness of each child and a stimulating and carefully planned indoor and outdoor space that offers rich and varied opportunities for children to engage with and learn.


Our early years curriculum focuses on the following seven areas of learning:


  • communication and language
  • personal, social and emotional
  • physical development
  • literacy
  • maths
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design




Partnerships with Parents


It is important to us that parents and adults working in the Reception Class have a strong and respectful partnership. This sets the scene for children to thrive and includes listening regularly to parents and giving parents clear information about their children’s progress.


Before children start school, we make contact with each parent or carer and arrange a time where parents can talk to us about their child. We also contact any pre-school settings so that we can get as much information as we can so each child gets off to a flying start.


We also plan taster days in the term before they start school and hold induction meetings for parents.


When children start school, we communicate via an Online platform called Tapestry so that parents and the class teacher can communicate during the year.


The unique child and a positive nurturing ethos

We recognise that all children are unique and learn best when they feel valued, safe and secure. This means fostering secure attachments with those adults who work in our early years setting.


By knowing and understanding all the children and their families, we can offer extra help to those who need it most and adapt the curriculum and our approach to suit the needs and interests of the children.

Stisted Academy's Forest School Handbook