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St Stephen's

Building Each Other Up in Love and Learning

Starting in Reception

Below you will find useful information regarding what and how your child will be learning when they start school, how you can support them, how you can communicate with us and some of the practicalities of school life.

How can I prepare my child for Reception?

It is very important that children are well prepared so they can settle quickly and enjoy being at school.  Below you will find some suggested skills that your child should practise before starting school.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

  • Dress themselves, including fastening buttons and zips
  • Wipe their bottom
  • Wipe their nose
  • Wash their hands
  • Eat with a knife and fork
  • Carry own bags e.g. when going on trips
  • Help to plan things needed for days out e.g. water bottle, picnic, clothing
  • Tidy their things away
  • Play co-operatively with other children
  • Take turns


  • Listen attentively
  • Carry out instructions
  • Ask questions
  • Describe experiences
  • Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs
  • Talk about and enjoy sharing books
  • Talk in full sentences


  • Kick and throw a ball
  • Cut with scissors
  • Copy simple shapes
  • Do simple jigsaws
  • Make and create things
  • Use a pencil with correct grip
  • Play with construction toys.
  • Use crayons, pencils, paints, sand and dough.


  • Count a small amount of objects
  • Sing counting songs
  • Name colours
  • Sort objects

However, every child is different and develops at different rates and times.  Your child may be doing well in some of the areas above and will need further support in others – that is usual.  If you are concerned about anything, please do not hesitate to contact us before September.

How will the school teach Reading, Writing and Spelling? How can I help?

We teach reading, writing and spelling through the use of synthetic phonics – the sound a letter makes rather than its name such as children learning the ABC song.  The Read Write Inc. scheme is an exciting and interactive way of learning pure phonic sounds and then blending them to read, write and spell words. We teach pure sounds explicitly modelling lip shapes and talking through sounds which are not voiced and are made by air e.g.  s, p, t,  f, (not suh, puh, tuh, fuh).  A useful website which can help you support your child at home

Sound Books and High Frequency Words

Each child will receive a sound book.  Every week sounds will be stuck into his/her book.  It is expected that every evening your child will practise the sound each letter makes and talk through the letter formation.

Once your child confidently knows the sounds, he/she will start to learn the “key words”. These are the high frequency words which children will need to learn to read by sight to begin to read fluently. Some of these can be blended using phonics and some are tricky words which need to be learnt. We send sets of these words home for you to help your child practise these.

Reading Books

Your child will receive a reading book to share at home from our Reading Scheme. These will contain words which children can sound out using their phonics as well high frequency words. Your child will progress through the range of reading books which are changed once a week – your child will be allocated a day when they will be heard read in school and have their book changed. The books are read at home and the reading record filled in by parents.  Please ensure that the reading book and reading record are in your child’s book bag each day so that the teaching staff can read with them during the week.

  • At this stage it is helpful to see your child as beginning an apprenticeship in reading, receiving much support and guidance initially but gradually taking on more of the task.
  • Always ensure that your child can see both the print and the pictures.  Point to the words as you read them.  Use the pictures as well.  (There is often additional story information in them).  Allow plenty of time for discussion before you turn over the page.  A good question is, “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Let your child “read” the story to you afterwards – even if this is reciting by heart/making up the story from the pictures.  This is a very important stage.  Children learn to behave like readers by these activities.  Praise all their attempts.
  • If your child likes a story he/she may want to hear it over and over.  (Encourage this)  Often a very well loved story is the first one your child learns how to read independently.
  • He/she is making sense of the text it does not matter if, for example, he/she reads ‘house’ for ‘home’.  If the sense has been lost however, offer to take over.
  • If your child is tired/reluctant to join in, make it an opportunity for you to read in a relaxed, enjoyable way.  Do not force participation.
  • Gradually you will find your child beginning to pick out words in his/her book, reciting the text accurately and trying to match the spoken words with the text independently but be ready to help if he/she asks.  As parents/adults it is difficult to keep quiet or wait whilst your child ’reads’ but children need time to try to puzzle out text and have an opportunity to correct themselves.  Do not worry if your child’s reading is not word perfect.​

Mathematics in Reception

Early mathematical experiences are not just about numbers and your child will be learning about patterns, measuring, time, money, volume and capacity.  To help children understand these concepts in Reception we plan and organise practical learning situations where children use concrete apparatus and games.

We introduce mathematical concepts to children in a fun and stimulating way.  Using first-hand experiences, children will develop an understanding of numbers and will learn to use the appropriate mathematical language involved.  From the Spring Term there will be some maths homework to be completed at the weekend.

There are many ways you can help your child to begin to think mathematically.  We all use lots of maths at home, in everyday situations such as cooking, shopping and DIY.  For example, you can ask your child to put 5 carrots in a bag or find a bigger plate to put a cake on or see whether or not he/she is taller than their friend.  Water and sand play, sorting the washing, getting dressed etc. can all provide opportunities for mathematical experiences and understanding. 

It is a good idea to point out numbers that appear in everyday contexts such as on a clock, a telephone, on doors and money.  This will help children to understand that numbers have a practical use, as well helping them to recognise written numbers.

Playing board games or card games is a good way for your child to learn to recognise numbers.  Developing the ability to estimate is also a useful skill for example guessing how many items on a tray or their plate will help to develop this.  Always count them out together afterwards, so that the child can see how close he/she was. It is important to model and develop 1:1 correspondence when counting which means demonstrating that one number name is used for one item you count.

Children can start to recognise the sound of numbers from an early age if they hear number songs and rhymes and hear people counting.  Some examples of rhymes are:

          Five currant buns in the baker’s shop….

          1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I caught a fish alive….

          Five fat sausages frying in a pan…..

          1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato, 4….

Books and stories that include numbers can help too. 

At story time make a point of counting the characters and the key items in the pictures.

When can I meet my child’s class teacher?

The dates outlined in your initial letter give several opportunities for you and your child to meet with the Early Years Team.

In September, the class teacher and teaching assistant will make a short home visit. This is an informal meeting and gives your child another chance to meet their teacher just prior to starting school.  It also gives you the opportunity to ask any questions or discuss any concerns you may have regarding your child’s early days at school.  The Home Visit gives us a chance to learn about any special interests or hobbies your child may have.  It is an occasion that we like to recall during the first weeks in school and something the children talk about often! (Remember when you came to my house and I showed you my toys?  Did you like seeing my bedroom, garden, pet?) It gives us common ground with your child and it establishes a trust between us and them which is an important part of our bonding process.

When will I be able to find out about my child’s progress?

In the autumn and spring terms there is a scheduled 10 minute parent/teacher consultation when you can discuss how your child has settled into school, the progress they are making and suggested next steps.    In the summer term there is also an Open Day when the school is open for you to come and visit the whole school. However, your child’s teacher will always be pleased to talk to you should you have any queries at any time. We appreciate that the school setting can often appear quite different and more formal that many pre-school and nursery settings. We have  staff on duty each morning in the outdoor class and you can clear up any minor issues or concerns with them, ask to see your child’s class teacher either at the beginning or end of the day or make an appointment should you feel any matter needs further discussion. We have an open door policy and will always try our best to see parents as soon as possible.

How can I communicate with the school?

For general information you can contact the school office at Winchester Road who will be able to find out the information you need.  You can do this through  or by telephoning 020 8892 3462.  Brief queries can be sorted out by emailing your child’s class teacher or putting a note in your child’s book bag.

How does the school communicate with parents?


The school provides a weekly newsletter to all parents/carers. This is emailed to all parents but if you prefer you can access it through the website.


School information is posted on the website, including all letters home, policies, recent activities and holiday dates. Please visit the website regularly to find out what is happening across the school.

School Bags

We will also send information via the children’s book bags. Your child should be able to let you know if there is a letter from school in their book bag but please check them each day so you don’t miss anything.


Increasingly, we use parent emails to let you know of up-coming events, reminders or messages.  Sometimes the Class Reps will also email information to you.

The School Day

Children can be dropped off in the Reception Outdoor Classroom from 8.40 a.m. This is accessed via Winchester Gate entrance to the school. At 8.50 a.m. the children will line up and be taken into their classes by staff where they will begin their morning routine of hanging coats, sorting their book bags independently and settling on the carpet for register. It is especially important that the beginning of the day is a calm, secure time for the children and children being on time and ready for school is the best way to ensure this.

What happens on the first day of term?

The day starts exactly the same as any other (as mentioned above).  Parents should take the children to the Outdoor Classroom and when the bell rings at 08.50am, their class teacher will take them inside. 

School Hours

All children will be full time from when they begin school. The school hours are: 8.50 a.m. till 3.15 p.m.     

Before and After School Provision

This is provided by “Energy Kidz”.  


We ask that all children arrive at school on time as it is disruptive and upsetting for the child who is late and can impact upon progress.

Pick up

If you need to collect your child early, a letter or phone call is required in advance. We ask at home visit for you to provide a list of all authorised adults who can collect your child from school. If there is any change to this you must advise the school by letter, email, phone call or in person. Staff will only let your child go with an adult authorised to pick up. This is to ensure the safety of your child.  Class teachers will release children from the classroom when they identify the waiting adult in the outdoor classroom.


If your child is unwell and cannot attend school we ask you to inform the school either with a phone call or an email prior to the beginning of the school day.  Children who have been physically sick or have suffered diarrhoea should not return to school until 48 hours after the last episode.


In the event that your child requires medicine to be administered during school hours, including asthma inhalers, please liaise with a member of staff and fill out a medical consent form.


Children should not be taken out of school during term time.  The school will only authorise absences in extenuating circumstances.  If you need to take your child out of school a letter of explanation will be required whether or not the absence is authorised.

What will my child need at school?

  • School uniform, including P.E. kit (all named)
  • A named school book bag
  • A named P.E bag
  • A named water bottle​


We encourage children to feel proud of their school uniform as it gives them a sense of belonging. We expect that they turn up in correct uniform (as per the school uniform list) and to wear it smartly during the school day.

Physical Education

The children do P.E. once a week and take part in the school’s annual sports day in the summer term. We will endeavor to send the P.E. kit home every half term so you can wash the clothing and check their plimsolls still fit.

School Meals

School lunches are free to all children in Reception, Y1 and Y2.  In exceptional cases, children can come to school with packed lunches.  The school provides children with a piece of fruit daily at break time.

School Milk

Every child under the age of five is entitled to free school milk.  When a child reaches five they are then entitled to subsidised milk, around £15 per term.  In order for this to happen, you need to register your child either by going online to or send a form available from the office to FREEPOST COOL MILK.


The school organises a number of exciting clubs, which meet before, during and after school.  Teachers, trained coaches and staff run these clubs.  The clubs change termly, depending on personnel available.    

Information about clubs on offer is available at the beginning of each school term.  Initially only a few clubs are open to Reception children but as they settle into school and grow older, more and more clubs become available to them.  If your child would like to attend a club, please fill in the correct application form and hand it in to the school office.  Places are allocated on a first come first served basis.  Generally if you don’t hear from the office, then your child has been allocated a place.  All payments should be made directly to the club leader.  Please note that clubs do not generally operate on the first or last week of each full term. Please consult the club list for full details of individual clubs, their start dates and prices.

Can I help at school?

We welcome parent help and we are fortunate to have very supportive parents, opportunities to help include assisting with reading or cookery. We will send home a timetable for you to express your interests and availability within the first few weeks. You will automatically become a member of the Parent Teacher Association (P.T.A.).

Parent and Teacher Association FOSS

The weekly FOSS cake sales are just one of the ways in which parents and carers help fundraise for much-needed extras.  Last year the focus was on the school hall and thanks to parental support the school was able to buy wall bars, replace chairs and provide new audio visual equipment, which has helped transform assemblies.  The P.T.A. has also been involved in the design and development of the new playground; garden design, planting and maintenance and funded gardening equipment for the children’s gardening club.  This vital fund is raised at the P.T.A’s events such as Quiz Night; Film Night; Five-a-side Football Tournament and the annual Summer Party.  Working at St Margaret’s Fair also gives the P.T.A. a slice of the profits.

School Fund

St. Stephen’s School Trust raises money to fund special projects for the school.  Between 2012 and 2014 parents raised over £60,000 to help transform the school.  All parents/carers are invited to contribute to the further development of St. Stephen’s.  We appreciate that this is currently a difficult time for many, but, if you are not already part of a regular giving scheme, and feel able to, please do consider joining.  The Trust, an independent charity, is a highly tax efficient way of supporting the school. 

School Trust

Special Educational Needs (S.E.N.)

There is a clear system for identifying children with a special educational need.  We aim to identify children as early as possible and parents are informed of the process at every stage.  Ms Liz Stubbs (The Inclusion Manager) oversees the Inclusion Team (S.E.N., Gifted and Talented; English as an Additional Language co-ordinators and Learning Support Assistants) and is responsible for identifying a range of learning needs across the school.  If you have any questions about inclusion at St. Stephen’s please contact Ms Liz Stubbs or Miss Lisa Barnett, S.E.N. Co-ordinator, via the school office.  Call 020 8892 3462 or pop in.