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

Prime Areas

Personal, Social and Emotional Development


Managing self

Building relationships

Physical Development

Gross motor skills

Fine motor skills

Communication and Language

Listening, attention and understanding


 Specific Areas



Word reading



Numerical patterns
Understanding the World

Past and present

People, culture and communities

The natural world

Expressive Arts and Design

Creating with materials

Being imaginative and expressive

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

Children investigate and experience things, and 'have a go'

Active learning: motivation

Children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements

Creating and thinking critically: thinking

Children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing 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

Are all homes the same?

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

Who are the famous characters in our books?

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 short, interactive carpet sessions, which include phonics, maths, topic work, sharing a story and singing songs. We teach three carpet sessions each day, which gradually get longer during the course of the year.  Throughout the week children will work with an adult as part of a small teaching group to complete a specific task or activity. 

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 observe, interact and add new skills into children’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:


Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary; - Anticipate – where appropriate – key events in stories; - Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role-play. 

Word reading

Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs; - Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending; - Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words​


Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed; - Spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters; - Write simple phrases and sentences that can be ready by others. 



Have a deep understanding of number to 10, including the composition of each number; - Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5; - Automatically recall (without reference to rhymes, counting or other aids) number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some number bonds to 10, including double facts. 

Numerical patterns

Verbally count beyond 20, recognising the pattern of the counting system; - Compare quantities up to 10 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity; - Explore and represent patterns within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds, double facts and how quantities can be distributed equally. ​