Our Reception classrooms are located within their own enclosed playground and outside learning area, allowing our youngest pupils to be in a smaller environment when they first join the Junior School. Staff have the flexibility to adapt the structure of the day to the children's ever-changing needs without needing to adhere to the more rigid timings of the Junior School day. As the academic year progresses, Reception children start to spend some of their play times with the older children in the main Junior School playground to prepare them for their transition to Year 1.
Within Reception, there are two free flowing internal teaching spaces that incorporate a painting and art area, role play area, book corner, bespoke literacy and numeracy challenge areas, as well as groups of tables that are used for many different purposes throughout the week. In addition to these internal spaces, there is a covered decked area with a creative table, construction and loose parts area that the children can access even in inclement weather. The classroom has a large carpet area where children are taught as a whole class for daily phonics and maths lessons. There is then ample space to provide practical small group lessons to further develop learning. The children are always taught by a fully qualified teacher who is then supported all day by two experienced teaching assistants. The high adult-child ratio in the Reception classroom means that all children are given the individual attention they require to support and develop their learning. Once children have a good grounding in phonics they start to read individually; the children choose a new reading book every day and they read on a one-to-one basis with an adult daily. Reception children have their own toilets and cloakroom facilities.
Teaching and learning in Reception follows the Early Years curriculum, which is delivered with lots of practical activities and kinaesthetic learning (learning through movement) which is the way that most 4-year-olds learn best. The children have a carefully structured phonics and maths lessons every day and the rest of their curriculum is delivered through a topic approach. A different topic is looked at each half term and these might include themes such as knights and castles, space, lifecycles, festivals of light. We will often follow the children’s interests when planning topics. We also spend time looking at the seasons and how these change the world around us.
The Reception children spent a lot of time outside doing physical activities and our fine motor skills programme (which is where boys and girls tend to differ at this age) is fun and interactive using a good range of large and small movements to support the children. We use "dough disco" every week, which is a really fun way to support all children’s muscle development for writing.
Within the Reception outside area there is a well-equipped playground with sandpit, flower beds, and mud kitchen, as well as a bespoke woodland area, accessed over a stile, which incorporates a large den, bug hotel, natural climbing, balancing and swinging equipment. The children access this woodland every week and have great fun making potions, hunting for bugs, climbing trees, playing with sticks and cooking outdoors. Once a week the children take part in OWL Time, where they explore the wider school grounds often visiting the big woods. Here we can practise the skills acquired in our bespoke woodland area.
At lunch time, Reception teachers eat with the children in the Dining Room alongside our Year 1 and Year 2 pupils. A cooked meal and pudding or fruit are served daily, and a vegetarian option is always available. After lunch, children are joined for play by older Year 6 prefects who act as role models and help facilitate positive behaviour and attitudes.
Reception have access to the wider school facilities, including the Sports Hall, Dance Studio, Theatre and outdoor swimming pool. Wraparound care is available to Reception pupils before and after school.
Progress & Reporting
We use Tapestry which is a secure online Learning Journal to record photos, observations and comments, in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, to build up a record of your child's experiences during their time with us. This is also used to assess children's progress and achievements in the EYFS curriculum and provides parents with an ongoing insight into the activities you child is experiencing at school.
A Reception class parents’ evening is held each term for parents to meet the class teacher to talk about their child’s progress, look at their Learning Journal and discuss the next steps for their child’s education.
Parents of children in Reception receive two reports during the year; a written report in the Autumn Term, detailing how they have settled in and the progress they have made in Literacy and Maths. A full report is written at the end of their Reception year and includes progress in all seven areas of learning and development. Specialist teachers also report on the progress made in PE, Music, French and Drama.
“Our daughter has just moved into Year 1 and is enjoying school life immensely. The caring and friendly environment provided by both staff and other pupils is very welcoming. The varied and interesting curriculum challenges and engages young minds, whilst allowing them still to be children. The school has fantastic grounds and facilities for both outdoor learning and sporting opportunity. We would highly recommend St Gabriel's to any prospective parents.”