GRADE RRR Sunflowers – 3-4 year olds

GRADE RRR Sunbeams  –  3-4 year olds

GRADE RR Sunbirds –  4-5 year olds

GRADE RR Sunfish –  4-5 year olds

GRADE R Sun Bears – 5-6 year olds

GRADE R Sun Turtles – 5-6 year olds

At Sunnylea we follow the CAPS document which covers all areas of children’s learning and development from three to six years old.  For more information on the CAPS have a look at the website. As well as what children learn, the CAPS sets out how children learn. We encourage good attitudes to learning, like curiosity, willingness to ‘have a go’, determination, persistence, and concentration, in everything we do. This links with the themes, including resilience and resourcefulness, which run through the whole school.

We provide a balance between adult-led and child initiated experiences. Children are supported in their development through play and exploration opportunities, short carpet sessions, and adult guided work. Although the curriculum remains very play based, the balance shifts gradually through Grade RRR and Grade RR, towards more activities led by adults, to help children prepare for more formal learning in Grade 1.

An important part of teaching is through ‘interactions’ and relationships. Teachers observe the children closely as they play, and join in sensitively to support them and move their learning on, extending their language and thinking, and helping to develop their skills. They encourage children to keep going though difficulties, and to be creative and follow their own ideas. 


At Sunnylea the timetable is built around what pupils need to learn. There are many opportunities for pupils to develop their language and their ability to explain their actions, their reasoning and their self – regulation. Pupils spend time every day as a whole class in short sessions (e.g. for numeracy, literacy and life skills).

Timetable planning starts with the learning outcome in mind, rather than the activity. Pupils are able to explain what they are doing and why (i.e. the learning outcome) – There is purposeful teaching by teachers and assistants to secure specific outcomes through modelling, vocabulary building and focused questioning.

Pre – Primary teachers are as accountable as Junior Primary teachers for outcomes.

Teaching focuses on building communication and collaboration skills, especially in developing talk and conceptual understanding.

Grade 1 approaches are brought into Grade R towards the end of the school year and gradually evolve to support pupils to make a successful transition.

“The early years are a crucial time for development and we know that quality of teaching has the single biggest impact on how well children do in school.”


In Grade R, teachers have a statutory duty to carefully facilitate the ‘characteristics of effective learning’. These are the fundamental skills and attitudes required to help children become lifelong learners, focusing on not just what children need to learn but how they learn it. Children develop the ability to become independent and capable learners for life when we focus on the following skills and attitudes:

  • being willing to have a go and try something new
  • bouncing back after difficulties and persisting in the face of challenge
  • being encouraged and supported to have their own ideas
  • finding more than one way of doing something
  • being proud of how they achieve something, not just the achievement itself
  • making links and connections between their learning

Moreover, the Grade R curriculum uniquely highlights the importance of other learning skills that children need in order to access the learning that takes place later on in school. These skills are considered ‘prime’ interdependent areas and underpin all other teaching in reception classrooms. The prime areas of learning and development are:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Being able to negotiate, consider the ideas and needs of others, empathise and work successfully as part of a team.
  • Communication and Language: Being able to process and follow instructions, having the confidence to communicate freely and express themselves as a learner, and being able to listen attentively in a range of situations.
  • Physical Development: Developing the control and coordination needed for both small and large movements, using tools effectively, negotiating space and understanding the need for physical exercise, a healthy diet and how to keep yourself healthy and safe.

It’s clear that these skills undoubtedly support and scaffold learning across all areas of the curriculum as well as helping children to become well-rounded, capable individuals.