In our Early Years department we provide a warm, safe and caring atmosphere in which children of this age can thrive. We pride ourselves on knowing all our children as individuals, and the staff are committed to encouraging children to become confident, independent and above all, happy learners. We follow the Early years Foundation Stage and underpinning our practice is the Montessori approach to education.

The school enjoys a very special location on the banks of the river Arun and close to The South Downs so we make every effort for them to benefit from ‘a real childhood’ and to be in touch with nature. The outdoor environment is very important in our children’s learning so we go for nature walks along the banks of the river and, weather permitting, have weekly sessions of ‘Forest School’ in the school woods.

The Early Years department benefits from being an essential part of Dorset House and so can access specialist teachers for music, games and French.

The department is situated in 3 interconnecting classrooms in a self contained unit on the ground floor of the Junior school building, and all the class rooms have direct access to outside learning areas. We also have a dedicated Montessori class room suitable for small groups of children.

The department comprises three academic years. Children start school around the age of two and a half and throughout the first two nursery years in The Ducklings there is flexibility in the choice of sessions with three possible pick up times. The third year, in which the children turn five years old, is called The Cygnets (formerly reception) and they stay at school all day and wear school uniform. We link closely with Year One so as to ease their transition into the Junior department and the start of the National Curriculum.

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