Pre-Reception & Reception

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Sherfield School operates a two-year Reception cycle from age 3 to 5 which maximises your child's continuous learning and development during what research shows are the most critical years of a child's education and brain development.


The importance of your child's first years at school

Often families will invest in their child's education later on in their life but did you know that the first three years at school is a critical time for learning and child development?

Research shows that 90% of a child's brain develops by age 5 and that Reception is the school year with the greatest impact on a child's education. This is the age where they learn foundational literacy and numeracy skills which are used across all subject areas. If you invest in their education early it will help build strong foundations, avoid gaps in their education and they will reap lifelong benefits. You can click here to read more about this research.

We have therefore devised a two-year Reception cycle from age 3 to 5 where we seamlessly progress our children from Pre-Reception to the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in Reception. Everything we do in Pre-Reception aims to prepare the children to maximise their learning during that crucial Reception year. Continuity is vital during this period since the children develop so rapidly. We achieve this through a number of means, including:

  • Pre-Reception and Reception pupils share the same area of the school. Their rooms are opposite each other. They each have a separate garden area and outdoor classroom and share the same playground.
  • Pre-Reception and Reception perform together on the same stage and are involved in the same events and extra-curricular activities. Pre-Reception also use many of the school's facilities and specialist teachers such as our sports hall and PE teachers, our library, outdoor learning classroom and our junior kitchen.
  • Pre-Reception pupils also eat breakfast and lunch in the dining hall with the Junior Prep pupils and staff.

Through these means and more, by the time Pre-Reception pupils transfer to Reception, in the September following their fourth birthday, they will be known by many teachers in the school and will be fully familiar with the classrooms, facilities and trusted staff and excited to see their friends again. Transition is seamless. They pick up immediately on their learning trajectories without the need for a long settling-in process.

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Our structure


Children enter into Pre-Reception the September following their third birthday. They are joined by a few additional new pupils. Two terms before they transition to our Reception class they will have the opportunity to spend time in small groups in our 'booster class' which is next to our Reception classes.

We ask that children are booked in for a minimum of three days per week to ensure they effectively settle. This is even more important when getting them ready to do five full days when they join Reception. You have the option of term time or 48 weeks per year. The school day runs from 8:30am to 3:30pm with the option of booking a full day which runs from 7:30am to 6:00pm and includes breakfast and tea. 


Pre-Reception children transfer into Reception in the September following their fourth birthday. They are joined by children from other local nurseries or home, whom we are able to settle very quickly as they can readily join in with the children who have come up through Pre-Reception.

Reception attendance is full-time, five days per week. The school day runs from 8:25am to 3:15pm with the option of extending the day from 7:30am (which includes breakfast) and up to 4:15pm or 6:00pm (the latter includes tea). There is an extra charge for extended day care. Reception is term time only with the option of a holiday club.

Pre-Reception and Reception are located at ground floor level to enable free-flow access to the outdoor areas.


Our approach

Sherfield School’s excellent teachers and early years practitioners ensure that each day is vibrant and stimulating.

Although each day there are planned activities which centre around the seven EYFS learning areas, our teachers and children work together and often the day's learning is moulded around the interests of the children on that day. They guide the children to talk about what they are doing and why, monitor their progress and consider possible next steps. 

We offer an education that keeps the children's imagination alive and eager to learn more. This flexible teacher and child-led approach teaches children that their opinions and interests are important and that school is fun!


How is our Pre-Reception and Reception effective

Sherfield School’s recent assessment results show that pupils who go through our Pre-Reception and Reception perform extremely well, so we know this two-year cycle is effective. As well as the continuity we provide, what else sets up apart? 

  • Small Class Sizes: Our high staff:pupil ratio means that our staff gain an intimate knowledge of each child's personalities, learning styles and needs. At Sherfield we are able to offer two to three times more qualified teacher time which enables us to teach one-two adult led Maths and Literacy sessions per week compared to the bi-weekly adult led sessions in most state schools.
  • Parent Partnerships: Our strong partnerships with parents allow us to promote the highest standards for conduct and achievement in and out of school. To achieve a fully rounded education, learning must continue at home and with our regular and open communication with parents we are able to achieve this.
  • Trips and Visits: Our pupils go on regular trips and have regular visitors, for example, they would have visitors such as a mobile farm, local fire service and drama workshops and trips such as a pantomime and museums. They also get involved with lots of performances throughout the year.
  • Specialist Teaching and Equipment: in Reception we have specialist teachers and equipment in Modern Foreign Languages, PE (including Pre-Reception) and Swimming (lessons start in Reception).
  • Clubs: Those in Pre-Reception have the option of extended day care. Unlike many schools this doesn't change when they reach Reception as there is the option for Breakfast club and after school clubs and tea. Those in Reception to Year 2 can choose from three types of club each day (movement, chill-out or creative club) and can pick and choose which club they want to go to. Clubs include Languages, Ballet (extra fee), Board Games, Cooking, Cosmic Kids Yoga, Craft/Textiles, Drama and Dance, Maths Activities, Mindfulness Activities, Movement through Music, Storybook, Technology, Tennis and Walk and Talk.
  • Food and Nutrition: We have a fantastic catering team, on site, and a dedicated newly-refurbished dining hall (seperate to our other halls). The lunch options are extensive and varied and are included in the fees.
  • Time Saved: Most of our pupils who join us in Pre-Reception and Reception stay at Sherfield to complete their education, so you won't ever have to worry about looking and choosing another school for your child again.


What is the difference between the Pre-Reception and Reception fees?

The school fees are not a huge leap from the Pre-Reception/Early Years fees. For example the Reception fees for term time, 5 days per week, 7:30am to 6:00pm, breakfast, lunch and tea included, are only 9% more than Pre-Reception/Early Years fees. The school timings are also more flexible, so if you don't require before or after school care and are able to drop off at 8:00am and collect at 3:15 or 4:15pm the cost for Reception per year is 9% less than full time Pre-Reception/Early Years fees.

At a local state school you would usually need to drop-off at around 8:50am and collect at 3:00pm. If you needed childcare outside of these hours it costs at least £3705 per year for breakfast and after-school clubs.

You are welcome to see Sherfield School’s Pre-Reception and Reception teaching and environment for yourself. You can click here fill in our enquiry form online to arrange a tour or book onto one of our Open Mornings. Alternatively you can contact the Head of Admissions on or 01256 884803.

To view our Top Tips for a smooth transition into our Reception Class please click here. 

To find out what our Reception Class parents have to say about Sherfield School, to get a flavour of the first two weeks of Reception or a typical day for our Reception class please watch the videos below.


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