Early Years

At St Anselm’s, children in the Early Years are viewed as competent, curious, natural researchers who are full of knowledge and are interested in connecting with the world around them. We always try to motivate and engage the children in their learning by incorporating their prior knowledge, experiences and interests in our planning.


Our children make accelerated progress from their individual starting points through targeted teaching and planning to suit the individual learners. Children at St Anselm’s learn through a balance of teacher directed learning, where the children are engaged in activities and learning decided by the adult, and child-initiated learning, where the child decides how they will learn and develop through play.


Our teacher directed learning opportunities include daily Read Write Inc phonics lessons, alongside writing tasks and maths activities, linked to topics and themes that the children have shown interest in. We also have a daily ‘funky fingers’ guided session where children develop their fine motor skills, and a weekly religious education and physical education lesson.

During child-initiated learning, the children enjoy free-flow access to a range of activities inside the classroom and in the outside area, including reading areas, maths areas, construction play, small world play, investigation areas, creative areas and role play.    

We use a ‘Plan, Do, Review’ approach in child led learning, where children carefully plan their learning before they start, share their plans with a partner and offer suggestions on how they can extend their learning and the learning of others to make it challenging and new.


Our reception learning environment is set out to encourage independence, investigation, exploration and discovery.  All areas are designed to provide rich opportunities to enable children to initiate their own learning and develop the learning characteristics that support lifelong learning.

At St Anselm’s. we use the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum to plan all learning opportunities and ensure we are covering the following areas:


Characteristic of Effective Learning

Early Years Prime Areas

Early Years Specific Areas

Playing and exploring-engagement

  • Finding and exploring
  • Playing with what they know
  • Being willing to’ have a go’


Active learning-motivation

  • Being involved and concentrating
  • Keep 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

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
  • Understanding
  • Speaking


  • Reading
  • Writing



  • Numbers
  • Shape, space and measures


Understanding of the world

  • People and communities
  • The world
  • Technology


Expressive Arts and Design

  • Exploring and using media
  • Being imaginative

We evidence and assess children’s learning in reception through records of adult initiated sessions in folders and books, accompanied by observations of children’s child -initiated learning in the form of ‘wow’ moments.


If we spot significant learning taking place that shows a development in knowledge and skills, we take a photograph, comment on the learning that has taken place and note the teaching that is needed to move the children onto their individual next steps. We invite parents and carers to take active roles in contributing to their child’s learning journey and encourage them to share the ‘wow’ moment learning that has taken place at home so that we can celebrate all of the children’s achievements and gain an accurate picture of the whole child.


Parents are children’s first and most enduring educators and have a huge influence on their development and therefore alongside providing ‘wow’ moments from home, we also encourage parents to support their child’s learning by reading with their children daily, working with them on their termly ‘power projects’ and supporting them in learning their sounds and ‘red’ words.

Parents have the opportunity to meet individually with their child’s class teacher three times a year to discuss where they are in their learning and how this can be further supported at home. These meetings follow an entire week of their child being a ‘focus child’ where they are tracked carefully and observed in all of the different learning areas throughout the week. This system enables the teacher to gain a really accurate, up to date picture of children’s interests and attainment. Parents then work with the school to discuss and plan for how next steps in each child’s learning can be maximized through working together.