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Early Years

Early Years


At Hempstalls, we provide our children with a nurturing and safe environment where children can form the foundations for their educational journey. We pride ourselves on providing high quality care to ensure that children settle quickly within their new environment and feel safe and happy. Children’s well-being and happiness is our priority.

There are 3 settings that make up the Early Years Department: Cubs, Nursery and Reception.

Cubs (Age 2-3)

We welcome our youngest children to the Hempstalls family at the age of 2-year-old in our Cubs setting. Parents and carers may choose any combination of morning or afternoon sessions to meet the needs of their child.  Children benefit from a warm and welcoming indoor/outdoor environment, weekly swimming, ‘Cool Cats’ (Physical Development), forest school and Rhythm Time sessions.

Nursery (Age 3-4)

When children are 3 years old, they will be welcomed into our Nursery.  Children may be entitled to 15 or 30 hours of free child care. The nursery setting offers both indoor and outdoor facilities and all children will have the opportunity to take part in weekly swimming session in our school swimming pool, Cool Cats (Physical Development) and forest school sessions.

Reception (Age 4-5)

Our vibrant and nurturing Reception setting welcomes children who are 4 and 5 years old.  All children will be offered the opportunity to take part in a weekly swimming session to build water confidence and begin to push and glide through the water. Children in Reception will also be able to enjoy sessions in our Forest School where they can explore the outdoors, build shelters and even cook marshmallows on the open fire. Our Autumn Term Reception Sleepover is always very popular!

Our curriculum is language rich and is bursting with knowledge and skills.

There are 7 prime areas of learning:

  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional development
  • Physical development
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design 

These are central to our everyday teaching, ensuring that all children are ready to take their next steps in their learning journey. Our effective practitioners provide the best for every child, ensuring that all children are given an equal chance to succeed, regardless of their starting point.

Our carefully planned, ambitious curriculum allows children to apply and build on their knowledge and experiences over time. Reading and vocabulary is consistently modelled and taught, encouraging rich language development and oracy.  

Hempstalls pedagogy includes: play, exploration, observation, guided learning which is carefully organised in an enabling environment both indoors and outdoors. We provide a careful balance of high-quality play experiences and effective guided learning.  

We recognise children’s prior learning, both from previous settings and their experiences at home. We work in partnership with parents, carers and other settings to provide the best possible start, ensuring each individual reaches their full potential from their various starting points. We welcome all children to ‘come as you are’.

'Parents as Partners'

We develop strong, respectful partnerships with parents through effective transition beginning with a home visit. This enables our practitioners to see your child in their home setting, giving you an opportunity to speak confidentially about your child's needs. We use Learning book, an online journal, to allow both school and home to share and celebrate achievements and learning. We use our professional knowledge and assessments to understand what each child can do in order to embed and deepen their learning. Parents are welcomed into the Early Years for workshops, watch me learn sessions and assemblies.


Every new school year, staff spend time getting to know the children as individuals and plan experiences to ensure relationships are firmly built. The role of a keyperson is important for all of our children in Early Years as children begin to make positive bonds with staff and staff begin to be experts in knowing our children well and providing for their needs and interests.

We teach all our children to learn to describe their feelings with words, what messages a feeling conveys to themselves and others as well as how they are to respond using actions and expressions. Through our class charters children are taught and encouraged to display the school values;

  • Be kind
  • Be curious
  • Be resilient
  • Be respectful
  • Be prepared

Our Curriculum

Our Early Years team provide a nurturing and safe environment which supports our ambitious and progressive curriculum. Resources are carefully chosen to meet the needs of all children and to promote learning. Children are given time to discuss and explore new learning, with regular opportunities to effectively communicate with each other and staff.  Reading is at the heart of the curriculum and books have carefully been chosen to introduce new concepts, build upon and embed learning, introduce vocabulary and to excite and engage a love of reading and literature.

Exciting, purposeful and contextual activities are planned to build on children’s natural curiosity. For example, building a boat for their favourite toy enables them to think like a ‘Scientist’ and ‘Engineer’ as they explore a range of materials and test out their own ideas.  Building further on our oracy focus, children will be encouraged to employ subject specific language and terminology in foundation subjects, and such vocabulary will be modelled, both verbally and orally, by supporting practitioners.


Phonics (reading and spelling)

At Hempstalls Primary School, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. Children practise their reading from books that match their phonic knowledge at least three times a week.

In Cubs and Nursery, children focus on Phase 1 phonics which concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and ensures that all children are ready for phase 2 in Reception. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to ensure that children are attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

We start phase 2 phonics in Reception and 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 Hempstalls Primary School, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in 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.


At Hempstalls Primary School, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently words and simple sentences and enjoy reading for pleasure. They are excited to learn new vocabulary and staff carefully craft speaking and listening opportunities so children can practise these new words.

Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme.


In Cubs and Nursery, children develop a love of mathematics through games, songs, rhymes, and play using concrete manipulatives. There is a focus on the following counting principles; one to one correspondence, stable order, cardinal principle and subitising. Children’s fine manipulative skills are a focus to develop 1-1 correspondence so that children count each object only once.

In cubs, children focus on numbers 1 to 3 and in nursery they focus on numbers 1 to 5 as part of our mastery approach.

Reception follow the White Rose Maths curriculum. The White Rose Maths approach focuses on maths mastery - children are taught to fully grasp topics, not just scrape the surface, so by the time they move on to more advanced lessons they have a deep understanding of foundational concepts. As a result, children benefit from improved learning retention and they develop mathematical understanding, reasoning and problem-solving abilities that will stay with them for life.

And what’s more, White Rose Maths also recognises the importance of enjoyment on children’s journey to maths mastery.


Children leave Reception ‘Year 1 ready’. Children transition to KS1 having met our EYFS curriculum goals and achieving a good level of development, enabling them to be happy, confident, independent learners, equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to continue their journey to be a Champion at Hempstalls.

HempstallsPrimary School
Contact Us
Mrs Shutt: 01782 950082Hempstalls Primary Schooloffice@hempstalls.staffs.sch.ukCollard Ave, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Newcastle ST5 9LH
The Creative Learning Patnership Trust