4 to 7 years old

Bringing learning to life.

In Reception, our play-based approach continues, whilst gently building more structured learning into the day in fun, engaging and active ways. Because our curriculum is built in layers, children will already have been introduced to concepts and themes in Nursery, and as they move into Reception we start to dig deeper, to stretch them a little bit more, and to gently build skills in the four prime areas of learning, as well as enriching their day with specialist teaching and a focus on future skills. We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage as a framework, but as an independent school, we are able to push the boundaries, taking the very best, but not being constrained by it.

In Year 1 and Year 2, children move into Key Stage 1 of the National Curriculum, where their learning begins to really accelerate. Our end of Reception data is excellent, so we know that our children are ready to springboard into Year 1 for more subject-specific learning and the opportunity to enjoy more structured lessons – although the fun, experiential and memorable approach still remains!



Continuing to follow the EYFS, children in Reception at Little Downsend learn in a way that builds on their natural curiosity and enthusiasm. Every day they form relationships, learn how to manage their emotions, become more independent and how to communicate with peers and adults. We support the development of these crucial day-to-day skills, so they are then better equipped to take on the traditional areas of academic learning with confidence and excitement.

At Little Downsend we have a structured and intentional approach to the development of specific skills, particularly in literacy and mathematics, ensuring that the ‘what comes before..’ skills of excellent reading, writing and mathematics are delivered in a way that is appropriate for the age of the chid, and is built upon in layers as they progress. We use both play and teacher-led activities which enables children to make rapid progress in their development.

Four areas of learning within the EYFS.


At Little Downsend we focus on the joy of reading for pleasure, reading daily with the children, and integrating books into everything we do to strengthen their understanding and comprehension of a story. Our small class sizes allow us to do this daily, one to one. We teach phonics so children are grounded in the basics of sounds before learning how to piece them together.


We teach mathematics (or number) from First Steps through to the end of Reception using the ‘Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract’ approach. Our experience is that it develops a deep and sustainable understanding of the number system enabling children to build an exceptionally strong foundation, allowing them to make rapid progress to more complex areas of mathematics. In 2021, 97% of children in Reception met or exceeded the Early Learning Goals for Number and Shapes, Space and Measures.

Understanding the World

Understanding the World guides children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology, and the environment. Linked with our Future skills vision, our aim to Inspire a Global Perspective is intrinsically linked with our over-arching theme to build community. We give children the chance to learn more about their community, to appreciate diversity, to think about their environment and the people within it.

Expressive Arts and Design

Expressive Arts and Design is all about imagination, creativity and the ability to use a wide variety of media and materials. Our Future Skills vision aims to ‘stimulate creativity’ so we provide hundreds of different ways for children to be creative across the curriculum. From songs to music making, dancing, crafting, loose parts play and modelling, painting and everything in between – whilst also stretching the boundaries by using iPads to create books and videos and working on team projects with Lego.

EYFS extra subjects

At Little Downsend we use the National Curriculum as a framework then build upon this to deliver a broader journey for our little people.

Extra Subjects:

It is very evident that the school curriculum adopted is age-appropriate and stretches our children's minds to be confident in themselves and to express their thoughts.

– Little Downsend Parent

A day in the life of Reception, Year 1 and Year 2

Time Activity
07:45 Early Bird Club – included within your fees, Early Birds welcomes children for time to play, colour and catch up with friends before the day starts.
08:30 Children move to classrooms
8:55 Registration
9:00-12:00 Structured teaching sessions
12.10 Lunch and Playtime
1:30 Registration and afternoon teaching sessions
3:30 Day ends and after school clubs start
3:30 - 16.00 Late Club: included within your fees, all children are able to stay with us for Late Club, supervised by our qualified team
3:30 - 16.30 After school clubs
16:00 - 18:00 Extended Day

Year 1 and 2

Curriculum for Year 1 and 2

As children progress into Year 1 they enter a new Key Stage. Although many elements of the EYFS still remain, the curriculum then becomes more subject-specific and learning evolves to be more experiential and practical – but always fun and memorable. Our teaching is always of exceptionally high quality, with parents kept informed of the areas of focus in a Medium Term Plan update every half term, supported by a Weekly focus document which gives a detailed view of your child’s learning.

Our enriched and specialist teaching continues in Year 1 and 2 giving your child the opportunity to start to explore their interests and explore their hidden talents early.

Key Stage 1 Subjects

Downsend School

Admissions: 01372 372311

General: 01372 372197