Castle Primary School
Newlands Road,
BS31 2TS

Access is via Newlands Road NOT Dunster Road

0117 986 4489

Castle Primary School

Early Years

At Castle Primary School we know that Early Years Education underpins all future learning and that the first few years of children’s life have a significant impact on mental and physical health, behaviour, attitudes towards learning and eventually lifelong opportunities. 

Our Early Years curriculum has been developed to support all aspects of children’s development and builds in skills they need for succeed in Key Stage 1 and beyond.   

Our key intentions are:

  • To encourage children to become creative and confident learners who are inquisitive of the world around them though play based learning.


  • To develop children’s confidence and resilience by providing a stimulating, safe and nurturing environment.


  • Enable children to become skilful communicators by providing a language rich experience at Castle.

Implementation 1

In Pre-School and Reception classes children have a large element of choice and opportunities to lead their own learning. We believe that providing choice enables children to become fully immersed in their learning and encourages independence.

Children are encouraged to plan where they will play and what they will make/do. Planning time is completed verbally initially and as the children progress though Reception written opportunities are provided in various contexts. Children have time reflect on their play during specific ‘Review’ sessions but also through the day as staff use thought provoking questions to support children’s learning.

Implementation 2

Pupils have access to all resources within the environment rather than adults prescribing which materials are available daily. Familiarity not only supports independence but allows children to revisit and extend their learning time and time again. Enhancements are planned for and added where relevant throughout the week.

Our curriculum carefully builds on skills as well as knowledge. From Pre-school, though Reception we ensure children extend their previous experiences by upskilling the environment each term to ensure continued exposure to new challenges.

Visits and trips are carefully considered so that the experiences and extend the children’s learning. They provide children with opportunities to question, collaborate and cooperate with their peers.

Implementation 3

Quality interactions are a priority and are tailored to the unique child. When children are playing the adults are interacting with them and teaching whenever they see an opportunity to do so. During Discovery Time adults support children to take their play further or support children to move to deep-level involvement in a particular activity. Initially the adult will wait and observe then plan how to respond. Adults constantly enhance language development; commenting on what they see and think. This allows children to hear words and phrases in context.

At Castle we also recognise the value of structured lessons. In Pre-school the children have four structured inputs a day. These have a weekly focus that rotate; fine motor, maths and mark making. CLL and PSED skills are threaded throughout all these sessions. In Reception pupils have daily Phonics and Maths inputs and four English inputs per week.

For English in Reception we use Pathways to Write; as do Y1-Y6. This is a core book approach and the learning is explicit. PTW provides opportunities to hear and use a rich range of vocabulary.  The core books have an explicit set of vocabulary to be taught and explored. English lessons include shared and modelled writing and encourage children to explore skills and themes independently during Discovering Time.  Visits and trips are built in to support pupil’s ability to collaborate and exchange ideas cooperate whilst linking to the broader themes of the texts.

In Puddleducks English is also linked to a core story. Puddleducks use story sacks and oral storytelling to support the children’s language development. The children are taught how to create story maps which is a skill they revisit in PTW in Reception.

In Reception we also use Poetry Basket, Helicopter Stories and Story Scribing. Poetry Basket exposes children to more vocabulary whilst Helicopter Stories and story scribing encourage children to create and develop narratives. Pre-School also develop their story telling skills using Helicopter Story approach.

In Reception, to teach Maths Mastery, we use White Rose materials supported by NCETM in our daily maths lessons. Vocabulary and Stem sentences are planned for and regularly repeated in every lesson to help boost oracy in maths. We follow the whole school approach of Think, Pair, Share; to ensure all pupils are participating. Enhancements are planned into the environment including manipulatives used in lessons to encourage children to revisit learning and explore further.

As a school we use Jigsaw in YR-Y6 to develop children’s Personal Social and Emotional Development via weekly circle time where children are encouraged to collaborate and build on their peers’ ideas. We also use the Pivitol Approach to create a classroom culture that fosters positive choices and ensure children take ownership of their own learning and behaviour. Using restorative conversations in Early Years gives pupils vital communication skills as to sharing thoughts and feelings. This in turn supports pupil’s self-regulation and conflict resolutions skills.

The school uses Read Write Inc. to teach phonics; those children in Puddleducks that are ready are also taught phonics from Term 5 onwards. RWI is taught by Class Teachers and Teaching Assistants and the adults leading the groups change whenever they children are assessed and re-grouped. The lowest 20% are taught more frequently by the Class Teachers.


After the Baseline Assessment we have 3 assessments weeks in line with the rest of the school. At these we have a set of discussion points in each area of the curriculum that we use for each child. For any child not on track we look at specific next steps to ensure rapid progress is made.

We use formal assessments for phonics every 5-6 weeks in Reception. This enables us to ensure any child not on track is swiftly given 1:1 precision teaching. We target the lowest 20% of the class both in lessons and for interventions.

We use focus children as a way of observing and extending children in Reception, in Pre-School key workers are responsible for their children’s learning and development. This allows staff to really get to know and understand individual children. In Reception we highlight any specific targets at the start of the week to ensure this is revisited repeatedly throughout the week. Through observing particular children each week, we are able to gain insight into a child’s learning style, behaviour and knowledge. We review each focus child’s learning at the end of the day as a whole staff team.

Wow moments – when the child does something independently for the first time – are recorded and annotated to explain why they are noteworthy for a particular child which are added to Tapestry.

Children have ‘Busy Books’ where they record their unique learning journey. No book is the same but each book reflects the progress of each child. Before the child’s work goes into their busy book, it is displayed on the wall.

We systematically review children’s observations and where children are spending their time. This allows us to develop areas that are less popular and target certain children so they spend time in all areas of the provision.