Sunday Times Prep School of the Year 2013-14

Early Years

At Holy Cross we have a two form reception entry with a maximum of 22 girls and a class teacher and a teaching assistant in each class. The two reception classes are the very beginning of your daughter’s journey here with us and are part of our Pre-Prep department, housed in a modern purpose-built block joined to the original, Victorian building. Our youngest pupils share all facilities with the school, but have an additional outside playground area for their sole use.


The children begin full time in the reception class in the September following their 4th birthday and are welcomed into the school by their ‘big girl buddies’ from year 6. These buddies help and support the reception girls in the first few weeks at Holy Cross and this relationship continues to grow and flourish throughout the year as they share many activities, such as the ‘French Breakfast’ and visits to places of interest such as Wisley. 

The girls are encouraged to become independent, creative thinkers following the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. This covers the seven areas of learning as designated by the DFE: the three prime areas – PSED, Communication and Language, Physical Development and the four specific areas – Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. Learning is child centred with a focus on developing the three characteristics of effective learning: playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically. We recognise that young children learn best when they are actively engaged in meaningful learning contexts and the girls are encouraged to explore all avenues of interest through hands-on practical activities.  


The school has been granted exemption from the Learning and Development requirements of the EYFS framework for children aged 3 – 5. This allows the school the freedom to exercise its professional judgement in implementing a curriculum with teaching strategies that are best suited to the individual girls in our school. In reality, there is little change to the way in which we deliver the EYFS curriculum, but as our girls achieve well above the national average we feel it is important to be able to independently make decisions about their provision. There is no change to the EYFS Safeguarding and Welfare requirements with which the school must comply to ensure the safety and well-being of our girls.

The curriculum is delivered through half-termly cross curricular topics by the class teacher, supported in group work and some individual activities by the teaching assistant. The girls also benefit from the many specialist teachers at Holy Cross in French, P.E., ICT, drama and music. There is a balance of teacher directed and child initiated activities and all are based on an active practical approach to learning. At Holy Cross we believe that children learn best when they are happy and actively involved. 

Much of the EYFS curriculum takes place in the outside learning area, which can be accessed directly from both reception classrooms. Maths, gardening, nature observations, story time, creative music and dance are amongst on-going activities that the children all enjoy.