Reception Cycle (age 3-5)Our unique two-year Reception Cycle maximises your child’s continuous learning and development in what are recognised to be the most crucial years of their school life.
The lasting impact of effective Reception teaching
Research published in December 2017 by Durham University established that Reception is the school year with the greatest impact on a child’s education. The paper entitled “The Long-Term Impact of Effective Teaching” concluded that children who benefited from good quality educational provision in Reception went on to achieve better GCSE results in English and maths. The study also acknowledged that it had already been widely accepted, based on other research, that high-quality early years and pre-school provision is arguably even more crucial for a child’s educational development.
Continuity through our unique two-year cycle
Because of the great importance of the Reception year and the need for continuity at this stage in a child’s development, we have devised a two-year Reception Cycle through which we seamlessly progress our children from Kindergarten to the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Everything we do in Pre-Reception aims to prepare the children to maximise their learning during that all-important Reception year.
Continuity is vital during this period since the children develop so rapidly, albeit on a path and at a pace that is very much their own. We achieve this through a number of means, including:
- Ramping up the number of afternoons in Pre-Reception from a minimum of two in the autumn term to a minimum of four in the summer term, in readiness for five full days in Reception
- Introducing expert teaching from all of our peripatetic teachers (music, PE, dance and French) from Pre-Reception
- More generally, fully familiarising the children with our main school site at 127 Herne Hill, including all relevant adults, facilities and resources
- Nurturing established relationships and friendships by moving the Pre-Reception children into Reception with a group of classmates.
Our approach is predominantly play-based and exploratory, with judicious and progressive introduction of more structured, teacher-led lessons. The children are encouraged to pursue their own interests, rooted in their inherent desire to explore and understand the world, as this enables the development of all inter-connected domains of the brain, especially the self-regulatory ‘executive functions’. Indeed, it is through creative play, games and other appropriately guided activities that children can best practice integrating their attention, working memory, and self-control to support planning, flexible problem-solving, and sustained engagement.
Our staff make the difference
Our expert practitioners play the most crucial role in successfully implementing our approach. They guide the children to practice reflecting on their experiences, talking about what they are doing and why, monitoring their actions, considering possible next steps, and evaluating the effectiveness of their decisions. They ‘scaffold’ the development of these skills, first by helping children complete challenging tasks, and then by gradually stepping back to let them manage the process independently.
Thanks to their expertise and our high staff:pupil ratio, our teaching staff gain an intimate knowledge of each child’s sensitivities and personality, which enables them to tailor their scaffolded interventions to the child’s age and stage of development. This highly individualised, seamless approach through the entire Reception Cycle is crucial since both the path of development of the inter-connected domains in the brain and the pace of that development differ for each child.
Our Reception-Cycle curriculum
In line with our aims and approach, our bespoke curriculum is broad and multi-faceted. It not only meets the statutory requirements of the EYFS but goes way beyond, incorporating the following:
- Promotion of communication skills through exposure to a rich language environment
- Fostering a positive sense of self and respectful relationships with others
- Opportunities to develop control, coordination and movement
- Progressive development of early mathematical skills and concepts
- Progressive development of early reading and writing strategies
- Enhanced love of books and reading
- Knowledge of different cultures, communities and the natural and man-made world
- Imaginative, creative and expressive opportunities
In delivering these and all other areas of learning, our teaching staff render everything as fun as possible and make extensive use of our amazing outdoor environment/woodland area.
Another important hallmark of our curriculum is the extensive use of cross-curricular whole-school topics. They not only unite the school under a new creative theme each term but also help to keep our teaching fresh and relevant. Most importantly, they provide a means to creating inter-related, exciting and enjoyable learning opportunities and to nurture the children’s creativity, curiosity and interests.
Children transition from our Kindergarten at 99 Herne Hill to Pre-Reception at 127 Herne Hill the September following their third birthday. They are joined by a few additional new pupils. Having been introduced to the main site towards the end of their Kindergarten year, they quickly become familiar with it. The Pre-Reception classes are all located at ground floor level to enable free-flow access to the outdoor areas.
Attendance is required on all mornings plus a minimum number of afternoons, which increases during the year to prepare the children for full-time attendance in Reception (two afternoons per week in the autumn term, three in spring and four in summer; with all children having the option of attending full days Monday to Friday throughout the year).
Lunch and wrap-around care
At lunch, the children continue to eat family-style in their classrooms. Optional wrap-around care is available with drop-off for breakfast club from 7.45am and after-school care until 4.40pm, 5.30pm or 6pm, as required.
Pre-Reception children transfer into Reception in the September following their fourth birthday. They pick up immediately on their steep learning trajectories, without ‘wasting’ any time, by being fully familiar with the facilities, recognising consistent learning resources and approaches, reconnecting with the trusted adults they know and being excited to see their friends again. They are joined by children from other local nurseries, whom we are able to settle very quickly as they can readily join in with the children who have come up through Pre-Reception.
Attendance is full-time except for Friday afternoon, which is optional for the youngest children. All Reception classes are located on the first floor of the Mulberry building. All rooms have been recently renovated and benefit from being equipped with a full range of learning resources.
Lunch and wrap-around care
From Reception, the children have their lunch in our multi-function hall, initially with a lunch-plated table service which evolves to being served buffet style to allow more freedom of choice (albeit still with substantial nutritional guidance and encouragement). They can also attend our popular breakfast club from 7.45am as well as a wide range of Pre-Prep after-school activity clubs until 4.40pm and then care until 5.30pm or 6pm.