The Early Years Curriculum is made up of seven areas of Learning and Development:

Prime Areas

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Making relationships

Self- confidence and self-awareness

Managing feelings and behaviour
Physical Development

Moving and handling

Health and self-care
Communication and Language

Listening and attention



 Specific Areas





Shape, space and measure
Understanding the World

People and communities

The world

Expressive Arts and Design

Exploring and using media and materials

Being imaginative

The Prime Areas are fundamental and work together to support children through all other areas of learning. The Specific Areas include essential knowledge and skills for children to be able to participate successfully in society.

Characteristic of Effective Learning

The children also learn through the three "Characteristics of Effective Learning", which are: 

Playing and exploring: engagement

Finding out and exploring

Playing with what they know

Being willing to ‘have a go’

Active learning: motivation

Being involved and concentrating

Keeping trying

Enjoying achieving what they set out to do

Creating and thinking critically: thinking

Having their own ideas

Making links

Choosing ways to do things

 These Characteristics of Effective Learning can be used across all Areas of Learning and align well with our Core Values.


In Reception, as per the rest of the school, we teach topics which are based around a Key Question, with humanities learning guided by a series of Big Questions.



Curriculum Coverage

Autumn 1

What do I know about me?

This challenge enables children to develop self-awareness and to settle, look at themselves and to get to know their classmates. It also enables children to look at their own and others’ special qualities and to start to consider the idea of equality.

Autumn 2

Why are there so many leaves on the ground? / Why is it always cold in Winter?

The purpose of this is to develop a basic understanding of seasonal changes. It can also make children aware of the environment around them and can easily link to environmental issues such as recycling.

Spring 1

Twinkle Twinkle little star how I wonder what you are?

This challenge gives children a sense of the universe. While this is a concept that children will find difficult, it does give them chance to consider facts like our own sun as a star and stars making constellations; as well as the use of the word ‘star’ in relation to fame.

Spring 2

Was it once upon a mixed up time?

Children consider the concept of what is real and how we know, and develop skills in thinking counterfactually. Looking at traditional tales enables the embedding of the basic structure of a story and enables children to begin to replicate this themselves.

Summer 1

Are all mini beasts scary?

This challenge enables exploration of the outdoor area and use of scientific equipment. Children can learn how to attract minibeasts to the outdoor area and the importance of minibeasts in the environment.

Summer 2

Who can I ask for help?

This challenge enables discussion around future careers and gives children aspirations. It also enables them to see the range of helpful people in the community. If it is appropriate, it is a good time to look at ‘stranger danger’ too.

 Daily Structure

Children in Reception at Gidea Park learn through a balance of child-led play and adult-led activities. Adult-led activities include carpet sessions, which might focus on phonics, story time, maths or topic work, and could also include working with a child 1:1 to read with them, or in a small group to complete a specific task or activity. We teach approximately 2-3 short carpet sessions each day.

Our learning environment both indoors and outdoors is set up to support your child to play, learn new skills and challenge themselves. Adults are available during this time to add new skills into your child’s play.


Children are assessed in a range of ways in Reception. Assessment is mostly ongoing and is collected through observations of children in their play. We also collect a range of work in their Learning Journal, which shows progress and the acquisition of new skills across all areas of the curriculum. Children complete a phonics assessment at the end of each half term so progress can be closely tracked.

By the end of the Reception year, children are assessed against statements known as ‘Early Learning Goals’, which show what a child should typically achieve. Across the year we will be teaching your children the skills that will enable them to meet these goals. Below you will find the specific goals for Literacy and Maths:


Children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.


Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.


Children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

Shape, Space and Measure:

Children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.