Early Years


Every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to their full potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure safe and happy childhood is important in its own right, and it provides the foundation for children to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.

DCSF – Early Years Foundation Stage 2008

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) applies to children from birth to the end of the reception year.  

The EYFS framework is based upon four principles:

  • 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 at Hitherfield learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships.
  • Enabling Environments - Children at Hitherfield learn and develop well in their environment (indoors and outdoors), in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and carers.
  • Learning and Development - Children at Hitherfield develop and learn in different ways. We teach children by ensuring challenging, playful opportunities across the prime and specific areas of learning and development. 

Nursery and Reception Curriculum:

The curriculum is child-centered and is based around the 4 principles contained in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Environments and resources are developed in response to children’s interests and next-step learning needs across all areas of their learning. Approximately 75% of learning is through child-initiated play. Sometimes a number of children become interested in the same thing and topics emerge. The teacher will sometimes introduce new resources and experiences to stimulate new interests in the children. 


At Hitherfield, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme.

We start teaching phonics in Nursery and in Reception we follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.

As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read.

At Hitherfield, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics through shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum.

We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects. 

Home School Partnership:

We run parent and career information sessions at different times during the year. Parents have an opportunity to contribute to planning for their child at termly consultation meetings. Parents are always welcome to come and talk to the teacher to share information about their child from home or to find out how they are getting on at school.

Children and parents share their experiences in ‘Special Books’ that help us to understand the child’s interests outside of school.

Download our Early Years handbooks:

Nursery Handbook

Reception Handbook