Learning in Reception

Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

We work hard to develop the whole child in Reception, allowing each individual to make progress across all of their skills. The environment and the learning opportunities that we set up for the children cover this wide range of areas. The EYFS framework covers seven areas of learning:

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

Continuous Provision

Our indoor and outdoor environment is set up to allow the children to lead their own learning and follow their own interests. At set times of the day, the children are free to choose their own learning opportunities from those set up by the adults in the Reception classrooms and outdoor learning environment. This approach also promotes children’s independence and confidence.

Adult-led Learning

At certain times of day, the children are asked to participate in adult-led learning opportunities, including phonics and maths lessons. There are also focus groups led by adults that work on key skills that we want the children to develop.


We teach the children to read with Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. This is our systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme to teach early reading and spelling.

We will work through the entire Little Wandle Programme until your child can successfully utilise their phonic knowledge and blending skills to read fluently. Children need to learn to read as quickly as reasonably possible, so they can move from learning to read, to reading to learn, giving them access to the treasure house of reading.

In Reception the children have daily phonics lessons. They will be taught 4 new grapheme phoneme correspondences (GPCs) per week, plus a review lesson on a Friday.  Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme (sound) to a grapheme (written representation) and vice versa. The children will also learn a series of ‘tricky words’. Tricky words are those words which cannot be sounded out using their phonemes.  We will build into the timetable some weeks for the children to consolidate what has been taught so far. We assess your child every six weeks to check progress. Any child who needs extra support will have keep-up sessions planned for them.

For further information on how to support your child with phonics, please visit the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds website:



As the Reception children’s phonics skills progress, they will also take part in Reading Practice Sessions in small groups. The children will begin to bring books home to practise with you at home. Although your child will be taught to read at school, you can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing their practice at home. Please use the Reading Record to let us know how they are getting on.

There will be three types of reading book that your child will bring home each week:

  • A reading practice book. This book has been carefully matched to your child’s phonics knowledge.
  • An online reading practice book. This book will be an electronic copy of the same book shared in the classroom sessions.
  • A sharing book. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together. Please remember that you shouldn’t expect your child to read this alone. Read it to or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a nonfiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!

Reception Baseline

Your child will be participating in the statutory reception baseline assessment (RBA) within the first 6 weeks of starting reception. The purpose of the assessment is to provide the starting point for a new measure that will help parents understand how well schools support their pupils to progress between reception and year 6. The RBA is a short, interactive and practical assessment of your child’s early literacy, communication, language and mathematics skills when they begin school, using materials that most children of your child’s age will be familiar with. Follow the link below for more information:

Reception Baseline Assessment

Opal (Observation of Play and Learning) 

We believe that observing children in the early years should be purposeful and meaningful and that practitioners should prioritise their time interacting and playing with our children, not testing them.  This is why we use the Opal assessment tool. 

Opal works on the basis of having very simple, six-monthly child developmental milestones, which we use to monitor children’s development. These milestones reflect what we believe a ‘typical’ child, should be able to achieve. When looking at the statements, we assess if the child has met the milestones and record a simple ‘yes’ or ‘not yet’. We know that not all children will have ‘typical’ development. Opal allows us to tell and celebrate each child’s story and focus on the support they need from us.

Not long after a child joins us, we complete a ‘Starting Points’ assessment, looking at the milestones the child has just passed. For example if a child joins us at 39 months, we would look at the milestones for 36 months. This helps us to quickly identify children who are not reaching milestones and may need more support.

The observations and assessments that we make are called ‘spotlights’. We observe children’s innovation, their creativity, their ideas, their intents and feelings. The insight that we gain enables us to discuss, reflect and plan our environment to support and shape future learning. We don’t want to plan a next step to tick a statement off a list. We want to plan learning that will be meaningful and memorable for that child.

As children reach their milestones at different points in the year ‘spotlights’ are spread out, making it fairer for the child as they are being assessed against the age-related milestones that they have reached, not a best fit judgement in a wide age-band.  This also reduces paperwork, making it manageable for our practitioners. No termly assessments of all children at the same time!

We want to shift the focus to the child, not the assessment. The assessment is a quick look at whether a child is meeting their age related milestones and if not, having discussions, thinking about why and planning what to do. When children are meeting milestones, we can think about their individual development holistically, thinking about what we can do to inspire and challenge them further.

Children’s learning is closely monitored in close collaboration with parents to ensure that all children are supported to reach significant milestones for their age.

We review a ‘spotlight’ two months later as the final part of the cycle. At this time, we reflect on the child’s progress so far and what we have achieved. Have the learning opportunities and experiences planned taken place? Have they had a positive impact? This again gives us the opportunity to think, to review, to tell the child’s story.

The Early Learning Goals

At the end of Reception, we assess the children against the Early Learning Goals. We would not expect a child to meet all of these until much later in the year so don’t worry if your child is taking a bit of time to develop these skills. We know that every child develops at their own pace and in their own way.