Early Years


At our schools, children are given the opportunity to learn, through play based activities, both indoors and outdoors.

At East Cowton we make use of our fabulous school grounds and very own on-site Bluebell Wood to support our learning whilst at Kirkby Fleetham we are lucky to have the woods on our doorstep.

Our Vision

Our vision is that all children are happy, thrive and make excellent progress in all areas during their first year at school. A carefully planned curriculum, which is informed by the children’s interests, ensures children are active participants in their learning and progress, developing the confidence and independence to thrive socially and let their light shine.

Early Years Curriculum

The EYFS is a very important stage in a child’s life as it helps prepare for school ‘readiness’ as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. Children’s Early Years experience should be happy, active, exciting and fun, and should support their development and learning needs.  Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfill their potential.  Children develop quickly in the Early Years and a child’s experiences before the age of five will have a major impact on their future life chances.

The EYFS framework explains how and what children will be learning to support their healthy development and provide the foundation they need to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.

The Foundation Stage Curriculum has seven key areas of learning.

These are:


Communication and Language

Physical Development

Personal, Social and Emotional Development




Understanding the World

Expressive Arts and Design


How we learn

“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.”   Maria Montessori

Children in the Early Years learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside. It is very important that they develop social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing and independence, which help them greatly in the next stages of their learning.  The guiding principles that shape our practice in the Early Years are that children are born ready, able and eager to learn.  They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them.  Development is not an automatic process, however.  It depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments.

We aim to support children to develop skills that will enable them to become confident, resilient, ‘life-long learners’. We cannot be sure of what the future will look like. Most of the jobs that our children will go into do not even exist yet. By supporting children to develop ‘learning characteristics’ and a ‘growth mindset’, we hope that they will be prepared for every stage of their education and beyond!

Observation of children in their play, by all adults including parents, supports the curriculum and informs next steps in the children’s learning. We use the latest interactive Tapestry technology to share the children’s learning at home.

Phonics in Early Years

At East Cowton and Kirkby Fleetham CE Schools we have fully embraced phonics as a key aspect of teaching children to read and write.

We start in Reception where the children learn sounds using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document which we use to plan the pace and progression of our phonics teaching through its six phases. We aim for the majority of children to be confident up to Phase 4 by the time they leave their Reception year.

In Year One we continue to use the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document to plan our phonics teaching and we aim for the majority of children to be confident up to Phase 5 by the time they leave Year One.

In Year Two we continue to use the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document to plan our phonics teaching and we aim for the majority of children to be confident up to phase 6 by the time they leave Year Two. If children need extra support with their phonics learning we can offer intervention sessions and groups to help them progress further.

In all classes we strive to plan a range of exciting hands on lessons which build on the skills needed to achieve each phase of the phonics programme. We subscribe to a range of web based resources which bring the phonics lessons alive with games and challenges. Some of these are then made available to parents to use at home. 

Phonics and reading sessions are available on request as your child starts at our school, here we model how we teach the skills of blending and segmenting and show how parents can continue the learning at home.

If you would like more information on how we teach phonics or have any questions please ask your child’s class teacher who will be happy to give you any further information and advice.

If you are a prospective parent, we look forward to showing you round our schools where you will be assured of a warm welcome. Please telephone the school office any morning to make an appointment to tour the school. If your child is joining us, we very much look forward to working with you and your child in a friendly and fruitful partnership.

You can also read the:

East Cowton New starter Booklet

Kirkby Fleetham KF new starter booklet