Horniman Primary School

  • Horniman Drive
  • Forest Hill
  • London
  • SE23 3BP
  • Tel: 020 8699 3190
  • After School Club: 020 8699 8378
  • Email:
  • Headteacher: Mr Andrew Pickering
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Early Years

Horniman reception is an exciting and fun introduction to the school. The children are happy, confident and independent learners who enjoy exploring the world around them.


Learning is carefully planned around the children's interests giving them opportunities to learn through play and make choices about their learning. We have a passionate and creative Early Years team who provide a stimulating indoor and outdoor environment that enables children to develop as individuals and make good progress. 


Reception class go on regular educational visits to enhance their learning. Recent visits have included: Kidzania, The Golden Hinde, the local post office, Sydenham woods, Crystal Palace Farm and the Horniman Museum and Gardens.


They have weekly Forest School sessions in which they spend an afternoon outdoors in all weathers playing and interacting with nature. They make mud pies, natural art and dens, search for minibeasts, cook on open fires and experience the changing seasons. 


The children have opportunities to get to know children from other years groups through playground helpers, buddy reading, whole school events and sharing learning with a buddy class.

Overarching principles


There are four guiding principles that shape practice in Horniman school’s reception.


These are:

• every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured;


• children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships


• children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents/carers;


children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.



The areas of learning and development

There are seven areas of learning and development in reception. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.


Prime Areas of learning

Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.

These three areas, the prime areas, are: 


Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations. 


Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children are helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.


Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.


Specific areas of learning


Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest. 


Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.


Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. 


Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role- play, and design and technology.

Characteristics of Learning 


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; and


creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.


Children are taught through a variety of topics based around the children’s interests.

These include topics such as superheroes, space, fairies, animals and pirates.

Children have access to all areas of learning both inside and outdoors each day.

They are taught through a mix of adult led and child initiated activities.

Observation and Assessment


Children are continually assessed through observation by adults in the setting.


Parents/Carers know their children much better than we can hope to so we ask that parents/carers contribute observations by filling in a Wow card.


Click here to download a wow card sheet




Horniman School assesses children using its own baseline assessment system to allow children's progress to be tracked throughout the Reception year. 


Early Learning Goals  


At the end of the reception year all children are assessed on their progress towards the Early Learning Goals. There are 17 Early Learning Goals based around the areas of learning.


All children are assesses to be working towards the goal, achieving the goal or exceeding the goal for the 17 statements.


At the end of the year you will be informed which goals your child is working towards, met or exceeded in the annual report to parents/carers.


For a full list of the Early Learning Goals and the steps towards achieving them

click here to download Development Matters.



Children are taught phonics using the Government produced Letters and Sounds. They are taught phonics daily and their phonic knowledge is applied through reading and writing activities throughout the curriculum. Dandelion readers and Read Write Inc. books are used to help support phonic development. 

Horniman Primary School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.