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Malmesbury Primary School

Brings out the best in everyone

What are we learning at school?

The Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning

The characteristics are a very important part of the Early Years. These are not what the children learn but how the children learn. These help us to plan and support the children to learn well. Likewise, the children learn the skills for being a good learner which we hope they can take with them as they move through the school. Some of the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning are:

  • playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
  • active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
  • creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things

At Malmesbury we introduce these to the children through animal characters and encourage them to talk about how they are learning. As an example, they might say they have been a ‘Concentrating Crocodile’ if they have listened really carefully!


Communication and Language

We have a big focus on developing the children’s spoken language in Reception as it supports all the other areas of learning and development. We create a language-rich environment where the children have lots of opportunities for back-and-forth interactions with adults and children. Staff take an interest, echo back, extend and model good language to the children throughout the day. Reading, story-telling and role play support the children to use and embed new words.


Learning through play

In Reception your child will learn through play. Your child’s activities are carefully planned and children are engaged in a variety of activities every day.  These can be both adult supported or independent. We base our learning around quality storybooks throughout the year. More information about this can be found in the yearly overview below. 


Messy Play

In our Early Years setting we have messy play resources out each day. We have a mud kitchen where children can use soil to engage in imaginative play and make mud cakes! On a daily basis we may have other messy play resources for children to play with. These can include spaghetti, play-dough, gloop, slime and jelly. Children love to explore and discuss the texture of these things and all children in Reception are expected to engage with these activities. This may mean that your child sometimes comes home with messy clothes. We do provide aprons and encourage and remind all children to wear them while they access the messy play, but sometimes children can forget, so please be patient with your child. All of the resources that we use can be easily washed out.



At Malmesbury we follow the ‘Read, Write, Inc’ phonics scheme. Through phonics your child will learn to read and write. Each letter has a sound which your child will learn, and different combinations of letters make different sounds. Throughout the year, your child will learn to blend these sounds together to read unfamiliar words and learn to break words up into their individual sounds so they can write the words. This can be quite different to how many adults learned to read and write when at school and it can take some time to become familiar with. Staff are here to support parents/carers in helping their children with their reading and writing so if you are unsure of the sounds of any of the letters please ask any member of staff.

In English, there are many common words which cannot be sounded out. These are called ‘tricky’ words and have to be learnt by sight.



With the help of phonics, your child will learn to form letters correctly, put these letters together to form words and eventually move on to writing sentences. This is a slow but steady process and some children can get frustrated with writing because it can require a lot of effort. In order to support your child’s writing, please always encourage and praise them for ‘having a go’. If what they have written doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t matter! This is an important stage of writing. The most important part is that they tried. At Malmesbury we want to create a school full of confident and happy writers who are willing to have a go. Please encourage and support this at home.



Along with the rest of the school, we follow a mastery approach to our Mathematics teaching. We follow the White Rose Maths scheme.

We use high quality resources, which will be familiar to the children as they move through the school, to support the children’s understanding. We create an environment full of lots of mathematical talk and thinking!

At the beginning of the year, we will concentrate on careful counting. In order to prepare your child, please count everything…objects, jumps, claps, sounds! For your child to be as confident as possible with maths, they need to be able to count. While some children may be able to say numbers up to 100, this is very different from actually counting objects. When you are out and about, count everything you see with your child and talk about numbers in the environment. How many red cars can you see? How many buses? What are the numbers on the buses? Can you find any numbers in the supermarket?