Who We Are

Areas of Learning

Our vibrant Reception environment builds on the areas of continuous provision that are set up in our Nursery classroom.  For more information on the learning that takes place in them, please click here.  The purpose of effective continuous provision is to offer children a constant environment that is safe for them to explore whilst challenging their learning.  In Reception we begin to challenge our children through enhanced provision that stretches our children's learning, development... and imagination.

Below are some of the areas of enhanced provision that you will find in Reception.

One of the key areas of development for children in their early years is the development of their physical skills.  During their first school years, the development of their small, fine motor movements (using their hands and fingers to manipulate objects and tools) is integral to later success in many important activities such as writing.

In order to develop the children's finger strength, pincer grip and hand to eye coordination, we enhance our environment with exciting play activities which focus on developing specific skills using tweezers, loom bands, small pegs and peg boards, to name but a few.

At the beginning of the Reception year, the role play area is set up as a house.  This is to ease the transition from Nursery into Reception and allow the children to feel at 'home' in the environment.

 To enhance our work on ‘Magic’, the home corner has been turned into a ‘Magician’s Kitchen’.

Here the children can dress up as witches and wizards, mix and make potions over a camp fire, stirring items into the cauldron. They can further their literacy skills by writing their own potions using their developing phonic knowledge and giving their potions a name.

We are observing ever growing confidence and independence skills as the children access this new area of provision.

The Frozen topic has really inspired the children to act out the story.  The children have enjoyed dressing up as Anna, Elsa and Kristoff and spending time in the Frozen Palace.  This enhanced area of learning has greatly impacted on the children's creative writing skills.

The children have thoroughly enjoyed our Space topic and have experienced life on the moon in our Space role play. The children have dressed up as astronauts and used fine motor equipment and magnifying glasses to explore the moon’s surface. The children have also used technological equipment to spot and record alien sightings.

During our work on castles, the role play area became a castle.  The children have enjoyed taking on the role of the Queen, King, Prince, Princess and Knight.  They have dressed up in different royal outfits and acted out the story ‘Castle Adventure.’  This role play has greatly encouraged the children’s speaking and listening skills as they played cooperatively in their various roles.

One of the most exciting skills we learn during our Reception year is the skill of writing words and sentences which other people can read! It is so exciting and we love to write labels, captions, stories and posters to display around our classroom using all the new phonemes we have been learning.

In Reception we have two well resourced writing areas which are well stocked with cards, envelopes, paper linked to our interests (such as space, superheroes and Frozen), pens, felt tips etc.  These areas are always very busy with lots children applying their writing skills through their play. We also encourage writing in all our other areas.  You will often see a clipboard and pencil next to our small world tray, role play area, workshop area as well as lots of writing opportunities outside!  We also love to roll out the huge roll of paper on the floor and write and draw with felt tips - this is always popular - as well as enjoying writing experiences using glitter, sand, gloop and cornflour ... all sorts of sensory fun which makes our writing experiences even more enjoyable!

The children are always busy writing in all the areas of Reception!

In Reception it is vitally important that young children can practice the skills they have learnt, independently.  Therefore as teachers we facilitate opportunities for children to do this through the areas of provision.  The children get the opportunities to practice their problem solving, number formation, sorting skills, explore pattern, shapes and measures, develop an understanding of mathematical rules, counting skills, numeral recognition and ordering.

This is done in a fun, play based manner to assist the children with contextualizing numeracy as an everyday skill. The children enjoy practicing learnt skills independently and want to share their mathematical skills with their peers and adults in the setting.

Parent Information

Our half termly information sheets give parents a guide as to what we are working on each half term.  This will enable you to help at home by discussing the different topics with your child or perhaps extending their learning by incorporating a particular subject into your families weekend activities.

Reception Information Booklet

Please click here to read all about the 9 Types of Play and Why They Matter


In order to support our youngest children become confident language users, we have introduced some simple but effective strategies within the classroom.

Keeping it Visual

Mervin Monkey and Mickey Mouse in Reception

Mervin and Mickey have been introduced to the children to encourage good learning behaviours.  Mervin and Mickey expect:

  • Good looking
  • Good sitting
  • Good listening
  • Good thinking

Visual Timetables

In order to help the children to sequence their day and particular routines, we have simple visual timetables that allow a 'first, then, next, finally' sequence to take place.

Other visual clues

The children have been introduced to 'This is what tidy looks like...' photographs in every area of provision to enable them to be independent when tidying away the resources.  Song boards allow the children to visually see which songs we are learning and objects of reference are used to encourage children to make links.

We have introduced visual task plans with the children and parents to enable them to sequence an activity that initially would require adult support with the intention that the more familiar they are with the plans, the more independent they become.  Task Plans also utilise the 'first, then, next, finally' language.

Vocabulary Building

Word Wise Whizz

In order to build vocabulary, we have introduced our Word Wise Whizz.  The children will work through developmentally appropriate vocabulary and be scaffolded to understand and use each term correctly.  Our wizarding hats and vocabulary books will be built up across the year.

Blank Level Questions

Language of Learning Trees

We are very aware of the language we as adults use with our youngest children.  In order to ensure we are questioning the children at the right level, we use the 4 levels of Blank to scaffold children's language development.  Examples of children's use of language based on these levels (and accompanying adult's questioning) are to be found on our Language of Learning Trees, displayed in all our Early Years classrooms.

Level 1:  Naming    Level 2:  Describing   Level 3:  Re-telling   Level 4:  Justifying

Characteristics of Learning

The four principles of the EYFS

'Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential. Children develop quickly in the early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five have a major impact on their future life chances.' (Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, 2012).

There are four guiding principles which shape our practice:

A unique child: Every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self‐assured.

Positive relationships: Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.

Enabling environments: Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers.

Learning and Development: Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.


Characteristics of Effective Learning:

‘The ways in which the child engages with other people and the environment—playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically—underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.'


Playing and Exploring (Engagement)

This characteristic of effective learning involves:

  • Finding out and exploring
  • Showing curiosity
  • Using senses to explore
  • Engaging in open ended activities
  • Showing particular interests
  • Playing with what they know
  • Pretending with objects
  • Representing experiences
  • Role play
  • Acting out experiences
  • Being willing to ‘have a go’
  • Initiating activities
  • Seeking challenge
  • Showing a ‘can do’ attitude
  • Taking risks

Active Learning (Motivation)

This characteristic of effective learning involves:

  • Being involved and concentrating
  • Maintaining focus for a period of time
  • Showing high levels of energy or fascination
  • Paying attention to details
  • Keeping on trying
  • Persisting with challenges
  • Showing belief that a more effort or a different approach will help
  • Bouncing back after difficulties
  • Enjoying achieving what they set out to do
  • Showing satisfaction
  • Being proud of their effort, not just the result
  • Enjoying challenge for its’ own sake, not for extrinsic rewards

Creating and Thinking Critically

This characteristic of effective learning involves:

  • Having their own ideas
  • Thinking of ideas
  • Finding ways to solve problems
  • Finding new ways to do things
  • Making links
  • Noticing patterns in their experience
  • Making predictions
  • Testing their ideas
  • Developing ideas of cause and effect
  • Choosing ways to do things
  • Planning, making decisions, solving problems and reaching a goal
  • Checking how well their activity is going
  • Changing strategy when needed
  • Reviewing how well their approach has gone

Characteristics of Effective Learning: Process over Outcome gives you prompts as to how to identify whether your child is demonstrating skills within each characteristic.

Home Activities

Please share all of your adventures with us by updating Early Essence regularly.

At Hollingwood Primary School, we recognise that the best homework of all in the early years of school is family time; playing together, talking together, reading, enjoying books, resting and not being too overscheduled after school each day.

The best types of homework for young children and their parents in their first years of school include:

  • Some time to relax and play and be creative at home and outside each day.
  • Being read to by a parent each day for fun and relaxation and to enjoy some parent and child time.
  • Reading/sharing a book from school each day.
  • Limiting electronic entertainment (TV, DVDs, computer games) each day.  No more than an hour 'screen time' per day.
  • Avoiding having computers in bedrooms.
  • Eating together as a family as often as possible without the TV on, so children are practising speaking, listening and sharing together.
  • Providing lots of things at home to write, draw, create and construct with.

We do know that some parents want a little guidance as to how to enhance children's playful exploration at home.  Below you will find some Helpful Hints of home activities to get you started:

Early Years Talk

Autumn Ideas for Home

Winter Activities

Spring Ideas for Home

50 Things To Do This Summer

Reception LT Planning


Personal, Social and Health Education underpins all we do in our Foundation Stage.  During their time in Nursery and Reception we are supporting the children all the time so they can become confident, resilient and responsible learners who enjoy positive relationships with their peers.

Here are some of the reasons why PSHE is such an important part of what we do in Foundation Stage:

Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop:

  • a positive sense of themselves, and others
  • to form positive relationships and develop respect for others
  • to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings
  • to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.

PSHE Education happens all the time in Nursery and Reception as we teach the children how to look after themselves, share, play together and resolve issues - like who had the toy first! However, we also have some key themes which we cover in our PSHE through circle time and small group activities.

All Aboard!

All Aboard:  Early Intervention Programme

For children who require a little extra support in developing their language, social and early learning skills, Nursery and Reception classes now run an All Aboard Early Intervention Programme.  Each of the three, one hour All Aboard sessions per week combines four key elements in order to address each of these areas for development.

Each session starts with ‘Family Time’ during which the children and the All Aboard leader sit together for snack. During this time they have the opportunity to talk about things of interest to the children, revise previous learning and practice social and practical skills.

Following on from this is ‘Activity Time’, during which activities linked to the children’s interests or to the class theme are carried out. This gives the opportunity for shared experiences, rehearsed learning and consolidation of basic skills in a small group setting.

The third element of the All Aboard session is ‘Circle Time’. Addressing this in a small group enables the children to build their confidence in participating and practice skills such as turn taking and listening. Each session closes with ‘Story Time’. The same story is repeated over a whole week to give the children opportunity to become increasingly familiar with it and eventually lead the story themselves.

The final but crucial element of All Aboard is parental involvement. Once a week, one of a series of ‘Home Activities’ is sent home for parents to complete with their children. These activities are intentionally informal and fun, with the express aim of encouraging parent child interaction and the development of positive relationships.

The All Aboard in Bradford journal gives you further information.

All Aboard! Tackling Underachievement in the Early Years

What We've Been Up To


We like to keep parents up to date with our classroom antics.  Here are some of our recent ones:

Road Safety Visit

We had a very special visit from the road safety team! They showed us how to be safe when crossing the road.  We learnt that we need to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN before crossing the road and that we should ALWAYS hold an adults hand.  They even taught us a song about being safe at the road side!  We loved pretending to cross the road and dress up as a car! We learnt lots of ways to keep safe!

Allotment Visit

We are very lucky at Hollingwood to have our very own Allotment.  Look how excited we were to help harvest the carrots!

The Owl Sanctuary visits Reception

During our Autumn topic, we have been looking at the story of The Owl Babies. We invited Steve from the Owl Sanctuary into school, where we met 5 of his owls. Their names were Casper, George, Charlie, Jack and Dusty.  The owls were cute and fluffy. All the children were so brave and listened very carefully to Steve, when he was talking about the owls he had brought in. He let us stroke each owl, and at the end of the session, he even let us hold an owl! We were all so very brave!

Reception Autumn Walk

This half term we have been focusing on the season of Autumn and the changes we can see happening outside. We have been talking lots about what happens to trees, animals and plants throughout the Autumn and have been asking and answering lots of how and why questions based on our observations.

We wrapped up in our coats and hats and went on a lovely Autumn walk around school; we used all our senses to listen, smell and look at the trees and plants around our school grounds. The children made some fantastic observations about what they saw and we really enjoyed discovering some new things we hadn't noticed before - we saw some nests high up in the trees, red berries on a bush outside and interesting evergreen fir trees which still had their green, spiky leaves. Our favourite part was when we got to jump and stomp in the leaves listening to the crunchy leaves under our feet. At the end of the Autumn walk we went back to the classroom and all enjoyed a warm cup of hot chocolate.

It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Reception and will give us plenty to talk about and explore in the classroom.

Forest Fridays!

The Reception children have been spending every Friday in our Forest.  We have been so proud of how well the children have responded to the challenges of the outdoors - the change in weather, the size of the space and the trust we have placed in them as they explore independently.

The Reception children have formed strong relationships with the younger Nursery and Short Circuit children that join us in the forest.  The children who joined us last year in the forest explore with much more purpose, confidence and interest.  We love being in the forest!

We have so much fun at the forest that parents comment that their children ask "is it Forest Friday yet?"

Bookstart Packs

Today we invited our Mummies and Daddies into our classroom to collect our bookstart packs and share them with us. The parents and children enjoyed spending time together, sharing their new book and enjoying other stories from the classroom.

Cluster Projects

Great Heights Early Years Cluster

2014 to present

As our cluster developed, our priorities led us to become an autonomous group of Early Years Practitioners.  We now have a range of ongoing activities across each academic year that enables us to be responsive to the needs of our group and the changes that occur within early years.  Some of these include:

Leader Days:  Our Early Years Leaders meet regularly across each academic year.  This allows us to work on collaborative projects such as cluster action planning, staff meeting outlines, data analysis, writing a SEF and CPD activities.

Staff Meetings:  Each half term, we now have a dedicated EY staff meeting within the cluster.  Each school hosts a staff evening, allowing all staff to visit all the settings within our cluster.  The content of each staff meeting varies.  Topics have included:  Speech and Language Development, SEN in the Early Years, Engaging Boys and Outdoor Learning.

Great Heights Data Pack:  Each school shares their Nursery and Reception baseline, mid-year and end of year data.  This is then compiled into a cluster data pack that is then used across our schools to identify trends, areas of strengths/development and commonalities.

Moderation Case Studies:  The case studies are an evolution on the traditional moderation activities.  As a cluster, we devised particular open-ended activities that each school delivers at the same point in the year.  Observational notes and evidence is then shared amongst the cluster at follow-up meetings to allow Nursery and Reception staff to moderate judgments.  This has been particularly useful as it has allowed a common language and a common activity to provide us with more evidence of subtleties between the bands of development.

Continuing Professional Development:  Cluster activities allow us to identify areas of particular need within our cluster and targeted training be delivered by a range of strong practitioners within our group as appropriate.  This has allowed us to tailor content to the needs of our schools.

We are extremely proud of the work we have achieved through our Great Heights Early Years Cluster.  Our strength as a group continues to grow as other settings request to join.  We now have involvement from Farnham Primary School, Farfield Primary School and St Pauls Primary School.

2013-2014 Early Years Transition into Year One Project

In order to build on the project of 2012-2013, this year’s project aims to support the transition of Early Years knowledge and practice into Year One. Headteachers have continued to commit to financing bespoke training from an EY Consultant to ensure all staff working within Year One, including Key Stage One leaders and TAs, to have a working knowledge of Early Years principles in order to best support the transition process.

Feedback from staff

There was overwhelmingly positive feedback from all schools at the end of each training session. Comments from personal emails include:

‘I have to pass on everyone’s thanks for the programme and our involvement. Kim is very inspirational…we all felt we were improving.’ Margaret Weighman, Farnham

‘The feedback from staff has been great. They have found Kim informative, approachable and realistic, as have I. Getting together with other Early Years teams is also very useful. I am looking forward to continuing the work next year if the heads agree (no pressure!).’ Leanne Truesdale, Brackenhill

During Hollingwood’s Ofsted 2013, the EY inspector commented on the moderation portfolio from Nursery by noting that he had never seen one made up before and was impressed that we had dedicated time to the earlier ages and stages of development.

2012-2013 Early Years Assessment Project

During the Great Heights Reading project, teachers voiced their desire to continue the network and links we had established across 2011-2012. The revised guidance for the Early Years was introduced in March 2012, for implementation on 1st September 2012. In order to support one another during the significant changes to the EYFS from September 2012, it was agreed by Heads that an EY project should run to support the assessment process to ensure consistent and secure judgments across our schools in the ages and stages of development.

A clearer understanding of how children develop through Ages and Stages of Development (AOD) highlighted a substantial area of need for all settings for moderation of judgments, particularly within the Reception year. In order to support staff work through these developments, our project’s aims were to:

  • Raise staff confidence in assessing against the revised AODs, across the cluster.
  • Devise and deliver bespoke CPD training that met the needs of all EY settings within the cluster.
  • Develop ‘working parties’ of Nursery and Reception teachers that would ‘unpick’ particular AODs.
  • Collate a moderation portfolio of evidence for each AOD from across our cluster.
  • Have Heads allocate staff meeting time to EY specific content.
  • Develop a supportive network of EY professionals.

Due to the success of the 2011-2012 project Heads from all schools within the cluster agreed to financially support the recruitment of an EY Consultant to provide external and bespoke training on the priorities that the cluster identified. The aim was for all staff, including support staff, to have an intense programme of EY specific training, as well as each school to have targeted time with the consultant to work on school-based needs.

Once again, to have the biggest impact on the children within our cluster, we felt that it was important to deliver the training in a particular order, to ‘build up’ to the culmination of the profile submission at the end of the Reception year, before addressing the area of transition into Year One. The successes of the previous year allowed us to continue working in our working parties to address moderation specific questions and share evidence towards particular ages and stages. Reception staff found this particularly beneficial as the changes to their assessment and reporting arrangements had left staff particularly worried about the end of year summative assessments.

The sharing of good practice during our continued visits has allowed us to continue to share inspiration and ideas across our cluster.

Activities included within this year’s project:

  • Meeting with all Headteachers within the Great Heights Partnership to deliver a proposal on the   project’s aims.
  • Funding secured for a ‘day’ from each school for the EY Consultant.
  • A ‘lead practitioner’ from each setting was identified and a meeting held between them to devise an action plan for training.
  • A bespoke training package was devised alongside an EY Consultant that followed the pattern of training for appropriate cluster staff in the morning, with school based needs training in the afternoon for the host school.
  • Autonomy within working parties was established, with agreement and support from Heads, that they could meet regularly to moderate judgments of AODs.
  • Half termly staff meetings for all EY staff to attend was established which is now part of the cluster staff meeting timetable.
  • The first EY staff meeting celebrated each school’s strengths, in order to identify where each school could find support for any identified area of development.
  • The project content and collaboration generated interest from a school outside of our cluster who ‘bought’ into the package.
  • The project generated interest from the District Reading project on how we had established a successful cluster project, raising the profile of our cluster further.
  • Learning Walks in all schools continue to occur in order to share good practice.
  • Schools completed an Impact Survey to identify how each felt the project had run.

2011-2012 Early Years Reading Project

In 2011, The Great Heights Partnership identified the raising of standards in reading as a key priority across our cluster of schools. The guiding principle was that all children will receive quality phonics teaching which ensures that they enter KS2 working at age related expectations. This progress will be maintained throughout all key stages in order to ensure that pupils leave our Primary Schools as readers.

Initially a core group of three teachers, comprising of Donna Sagar (Hollingwood), Liz Bowen (Russell Hall) and Christine Riley (Stocks Lane) were asked to investigate and identify across the three schools:

  • How reading is taught in Reception
  • Good practice that works
  • How reading is supported in the environment
  • The recording of success
  • Good resources that stimulate and engage

The core group were given a ‘day’ to tour each school together and reflect on how best to meet the project’s aims. The conversation naturally fell into a topic focused primarily on phonics: its delivery, resourcing and application. Throughout the process of the day and the refining of our thinking, we began to focus more on how we stimulated and engaged our children in a love of reading, appreciation of stories and the comprehension of plots. The visits allowed us the opportunity to evaluate the provision we offered our children, reflect upon the opportunities we provided our children with and begin to really question what, if any, key learning opportunities we were missing out on.

In order to make the biggest impact on the children within our cluster, we felt the best way to do this would be to invite all Early Years (EY) teachers to a meeting that would set out the priorities for a year-long collaboration project. The aim was to break off into working parties that worked towards building a progression document for supporting the development of reading in the EY within the specific ages and stages of development. By sharing good practice and visiting our cluster settings, we incorporated how to develop practice and provision, as well as the adults’ role in supporting early reading. To compliment this body of work, we collated observational evidence that supported our judgements of what reading skills ‘looked like’ for children in the 22-36 months, 30-50 months and 40-60 months bands

Age Related Expectations

Reception Age Related Expectations

Age Related Expectations at the end of Foundation Stage are called Early Learning Goals (ELG).

ELGs outline the level of learning and development that children are expected to reach by the end of the Reception school year.  We have listed all the ELGS for 5 year olds across the 14 areas of learning and development in the Early Years Foundation Stage in the powerpoint below as well as examples of children's work.

Reception ARE presentation can be viewed below.

For more information on guiding your child through the Early Years Foundation Stage please see the 'What to expect, when?' document.

Further Information

If you feel unsure about your child’s development or have any concerns, please speak to your child’s class teacher.  Alternatively you might want to speak to someone from your local Children’s Centre, or health professional.

For information about NHS services and support for parents visit:

To find a Sure Start Children’s Centre in your area visit:

Useful resources can also be found at the following links:

Source Link Resource Support Offered
Book Trust


Book Trust transforms lives by getting children and families reading. Resources to support reading of all ages to develop the skills that will improve their opportunities in life.
Children’s Food Trust Leaflets and guides Range of advice and information to ensure a balanced diet in the early years.
Communication Trust









Small Talk For parents of children aged 0-5 to show where children are likely to be with their communication at a certain age.
Top Tips Leaflet 10 Top Tips to help parents or professionals develop children and young people’s communication skills
Through the eyes of a child Four films full of useful advice on how parents can encourage their child to talk and interact with them.
Misunderstood Information for those who want to find out more about supporting children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.
Listen up


Resources to encourage listening, understanding, interaction and play.
Summer Talk


Pack with games and activities that support families to encourage children’s communication skills when they are out and about this Summer.
Families in the

Foundation Years Outline of information available to parents to help in making choices and plans. Links are also provided to other websites to offer you more information if you need it. This site is designed to help you work your way through the information and support on offer to help your child get off to a great start in life.
Family Information

Centre Information on services available to parents. Your local Family Information Service (FIS) provides a range of information for parents from details of local childcare and early years provision to family activities in your area. Five to thrive Printed guides, posters, pop-up banners and a range of age-specific supplements are all available to support the implementation of five to thrive.
Literacy Trust Early Words Together Early Words Together is a targeted, literacy peer education programme for families with children aged two to five that empowers parents to support their child’s early learning, through small groups run within an early years setting.
National Numeracy


How does what parents say about maths affect

their children?

Falkirk Council Education Services have created a lovely video with some great suggestions for everyday maths activities.
Help Your Child With Numeracy: Age Range 3-7 Clear descriptions of the ways in which maths is taught in schools today, as well as examples of the kinds of calculations children will learn at different ages.
Parents in Touch How I can help my under 5 year old Resources to help with maths, phonics, handwriting and English.
Play England Reports and guides Written by experts, the resources ensure that parents access to a wide-range of research, good practice and guidance to support them to increase children’s freedom to play.
Start4Life Support throughout pregnancy and as baby grows. All the help and advice you need during pregnancy, birth and parenthood for mums, dads, family and friends.
How we assess in Early Years