Wharfedale Lodge, 11 Ben Rhydding Road,
Ilkley, West Yorkshire LS29 8RL

Call: 01943 607285

Life in early years, nursery in Ilkley

Life in Early Years

About Moorfield Early Years

Nestled next to our main school, Moorfield Early Years provides a bright, cosy and stimulating environment in which children aged 2 – 5 years old can explore and grow. Our Reggio Emilia inspired approach to learning encourages investigation, creativity and independence through the use of expert teachers and practitioners, high quality resources and a purpose-built environment. We are incredibly proud of our unique child-led approach to learning, which allows all our children to become masters of curiosity and discovery.

We believe that children should be allowed the time to enjoy being children. They should be given the time to play in an inspirational environment which encourages exploration, high-level communication, questioning, demonstration and challenge.

“High quality interactions between practitioners and children are resulting in children demonstrating resilience, collaboration, creative thinking, problem solving and perseverance.” (Moderation report, 2017)

“It’s so lovely here, I could cry! It feels like home.” (Parent comment, 2017)


We know from experience that our exceptional approach of learning enables children to develop outstanding skills across the breadth of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and beyond.

In the years 2016 and 2017, the percentage of our Reception children achieving an ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’ judgement across the seventeen areas of the EYFS curriculum, was 97% and 99% respectively. This compares to a 2016 national average of 67.3%. These phenomenal results reflect the outstanding quality of learning that takes place every day in our unique, child-led setting.

 Beyond this, nearly 50% of our Reception children have been found to exceed the expected levels for the end of the Reception year – a result well above the current national picture.


What is the Reggio Emilia approach to learning?

The Reggio Emilia approach to learning was founded in the small city of Reggio Emilia, in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Out of the aftermath of WW11 came a hope for change and the desire for a new form of education that would ensure against future generations being brought up in toleration of injustice and inequality. With a small amount of money sourced from the selling of a tank, three trucks, and a few horses from the war, and with land contributed by a local farmer and building materials from bombed-out buildings, local men and women of all ages built the first post-war school for young children in the village of Villa Cella, seven kilometres from Reggio Emilia.

Loris Malaguzzi, a local primary school teacher, was an influential and inspirational figure behind this new educational movement and what became the development of the Reggio Emilia approach. Malaguzzi was determined to help build a better future for the children and families of Reggio Emilia. Inspired to learn more about very young children, he trained as a psychologist and became a leader in the parent cooperative movement, supporting parents, families and teachers in the education of their young children. Malaguzzi believed passionately that all children are competent and capable thinkers and learners as well as creative communicators and conversationalists.

Our Reggio Emilia inspired setting sees children as leaders of their own learning. Our highly-trained and passionate teachers and practitioners expertly follow each child’s passions and interests, supporting their learning and enabling them to make the next steps in their development. Resources are carefully selected and readily available to children, enabling them to plan, carry out projects and develop independence. Play and wellbeing are highly valued, ensuring that children are happy and motivated every day. 

“Teachers [use their] extensive knowledge of children’s learning and the child’s interests to maximise learning potential and purposeful contexts for learning… Children are afforded the rich opportunities needed to initiate ideas and activities so they can develop the learning characteristics supporting lifelong learning.” (Moderation report, 2017)


Life and Learning in the Early Years

Children are welcomed into Nursery at 2 years old and stay with us until the end of Reception at the age of 5, when they join main school. Days in the Early Years are varied and exciting, with no two ever quite the same. A daily timetable, however, creates structure, allowing children to feel safe and secure and enabling them to build a sense of belonging. 

We are a Reggio Emilia inspired setting, following the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. In addition to time spent in our inspirational indoor and outdoor learning spaces, children will experience specialist teaching in music, cookery and Bushcraft. We make regular use of our proximity to Ilkley Moor whether exploring the Tarn, rock scrambling, hunting for fairies or searching for signs of the changing seasons. Trips and outings are made by Nursery and Reception classes throughout the year and include destinations such as: the police and fire station, Ilkley park, King’s Hall Theatre, Tropical World, Hesketh Farm, Ben Rhydding Church and Keighley Mosque.

Good home-school communication is fundamental to your child’s continued progress. Parent communication is very important to us we strive to involve all family members in our daily life.  As well as an open-door policy allowing daily communication, we also offer more formal meetings to discuss your child’s progress, held at any time throughout the year. Weekly summaries of learning are displayed in each classroom, along with useful information and bulletins.

We use an online system to record children’s learning and to make observations as they explore and progress. These observations, which link to the EYFS curriculum, are shared digitally with parents at the end of each half-term. We encourage contributions from home too, via our simple observation email system.

“Thank you for [my child’s] learning profile - it is such a wonderful way of representing their achievements and giving us an insight into school life. They look to have so much fun while they are learning!”



Housed in a purpose-built extension, Moorfield Nursery and Reception rooms are light, airy and spacious. Adjacent to the main school building, an imposing Victorian house, we are able to make use of the extensive and well-equipped school grounds. We offer:

  • Large rooms, beautifully designed to accommodate each specific area of learning.
  • Interactive whiteboards to enhance learning and promote IT skills.
  • A tailor-made outdoor space, with large sandpit and shelter to allow all-weather play and learning.
  • Woodland area, specifically designed for teaching high quality Bushcraft.
  • Outdoor Tipi and wood-burning stove – perfect for cold winter days.
  • A large outdoor multi-purpose games pitch.


Our Staff

Mrs Sophie Pickles – Head of Early Years and Reception Teacher (BA Hons in Early Childhood Education with QTS) (maternity leave)

Mrs Nicola Minshall – Maternity cover - Head of Early Years and Reception Teacher (BA Hons in Primary Teaching with English Studies)


Mrs Jane Brown – Nursery Teacher (BEd Hons)

Mrs Emma Preston – Early Years Practitioner Nursery (NVQ3)

Miss Karley Baxter – Early Years Practitioner Nursery (BA Hons in Children’s Care, Learning and Development)

Mrs Catherine Scott – Early Years Practitioner Reception (HLTA Level 4 and Certificate in Learning Mentoring)

Mrs Tina Driver – Early Years Practitioner, After School Care, Holiday Club (NVQ3)

Mrs Lynsey Rix – Music (MMus, PGCE)

Mrs Victoria Crebbin – Music and Cookery (BSc, NVQ3)

Mr Josh Hemingway – Bushcraft (BA Hons)

Mr James Snook – Sports Coach, After School Care, Holiday Club


 Pastoral Care and Wellbeing

Pastoral care is the heart of the Early Years at Moorfield and underpins everything we do. Each child’s individual happiness and personal wellbeing is of utmost importance to every staff member and we pride ourselves on developing confident, healthy and independent children.

Research shows that high levels of emotional wellbeing are essential for children’s development at any age. Children that are the happiest in their setting will make better progress than their peers. It is only when children feel safe and secure, that they can begin to develop high levels of involvement and ultimately make outstanding progress.  As we know that wellbeing directly affects involvement, and therefore a child’s ability to make progress, this is carefully monitored for each child. ‘Caring and sharing’ is promoted from the very start and staff members are always on hand to model good behaviour or just to provide comfort and reassurance.

Each child in the Early Years is assigned a named key person who has a special responsibility for their progress and development, although we pride ourselves on the personal relationship each staff member builds with every child, whether in Nursery or Reception. Children are taught how to become part of a community, whilst valuing their own individuality, how to recognise and build upon their own strengths, and how to live each day, brimming with enjoyment and anticipation for the next adventure.


Healthy Eating

Children that choose to join us for lunch will enjoy a hot, healthy, home cooked meal provided by our talented school catering team. Meals provided are nutritious, tasty and loved by all. We often find that children are more willing to try new and exciting foods in school than they would at home, encouraged by friends and staff members. In Nursery, a family environment is created as children gather round the table to eat, along with our Early Years practitioners. Morning snack is prepared by the children who are taught to cut up fruit themselves and arrange it on a plate for everyone to share. Reception children eat in a quiet area of the main school hall, allowing them to take part in whole school life. With the help of prefects from our upper school, table manners are taught and encouraged and children are invited to join in with conversation with their neighbours.

Healthy snacks and milk are provided in Nursery during both morning and afternoon sessions and water is always readily available. Milk is available to Reception children for a small additional charge.