Early years (Pre-Nursery to reception)

The Early Years section at Harrow Shanghai focuses on building strong foundations for our youngest pupils. There are three distinctive year groups in this phase: Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Reception.


The Early Years section follows the UK based ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ (EYFS) Curriculum. The curriculum focuses on the Prime and Specific Areas of Learning:

The EYFS ethos and philosophy encompasses a vision and belief that young children learn best through play. Our class teachers plan a purposeful play-based week that involves directing, scaffolding and observing individual students in their play, deciding on the next steps for learning, and enhancing the environment based on individual interests. The academic year is divided into six half-termly themes that drive the focus of the curriculum. The class teacher delivers the vast majority of the curriculum, but,  in addition, we have specialist Mandarin, Music and Physical Education teachers who teach all students in the Early Years throughout the course of the week.

Structure of the School Day

The Early Years day is a full programme from Monday to Friday. The day begins at 8.00am and finishes at 4.00pm (2.30pm for Pre-Nursery pupils, 3.30pm for all pupils on a Friday). On Tuesdays and Thursdays pupils can choose to take paid specialist sessions from 2.40pm-4pm. If pupils do not wish to participate in the paid sessions parents can collect their children at 2.30pm on these days. The School day is interspersed with regular breaks and opportunities for pupils to interact and develop social skills. At lunch the pupils sit in ‘family-type’ groupings under the supervision of the staff. There is also a mid-morning and afternoon snack each day. Parents are welcomed to the Early Years Centre for dropping-off and collecting their children. This is also an effective way of ensuring that lines of communication between teachers and parents are open and frequent.

Learning Environment

The purpose-built Early Years Centre houses a diverse variety of age-appropriate facilities that support the curriculum in a number of ways. EYFS is based around a strong philosophy of indoor and outdoor exploration and play. The Early Years environment extends far beyond the classroom to spacious indoor learning spaces and outside learning and play areas. The centre has a modern feel with a very natural look. The vast majority of furniture is wooden, which, alongside the numeous plants and soft furnishings, provides a home-from-home feel for our youngest pupils.

Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Reception pupils are accommodated in dedicated classrooms. Each classroom has its own interactive whiteboard, Apple TV, plus a set of iPads, and are well-equipped with educational resources, which support the delivery of the curriculum.

There are two purpose-built play structures, one for Pre- Nursery and one for Nursery and Reception. There is also a shared adventure playground facility that Early Years can use for PE lessons and their break times.

The experiences gained in the Early Years section enable pupils to explore their world in a safe, secure and stimulating environment. In addition to this, Early Years provides the children with solid foundations in readiness for their transition to Year 1 in the Pre-Prep School.