New Early Years Foundation Stage facilities

Ellacombe Church of England Academy receives a significant investment for the school’s Early Years offer

— Learning Academy Partnership, a leading Multi Academy Trust in the South West, provided £25,000 additional funding to boost the school’s Early Years offer —

Ellacombe Church of England Academy in Torquay are celebrating a successful first term following the launch of their new Early Years Foundation Stage facilities which opened in September, at the start of this academic year.

Thanks to a large investment of £25,000 additional funding from the Learning Academy Partnership, one of the best performing Multi Academy Trusts in the South West, of which Ellacombe is a member, the school now has a state-of-the-art space to offer their pupils in the early years.

A full refurbishment of the outdoor space has redefined the school’s early years provision. The outdoor space now includes flower beds, bug hotel, artificial grass to cover seating and decking areas, new ‘grass’ fencing and an outdoor kitchen for children to use imaginary play and ‘cooking’. The new space also offers beautiful new bikes and scooters, which have their own garage and signs and large construction sets.

Inside, the team have designed and created a new ‘home corner’, large role play areas, ‘construction’ sites and finished off the interior with new wooden natural furniture. The new reading chairs that are part of a soft area, aim to encourage reading and language development in the young children. Parents have reportedly been wowed by the development they see in their children already, and say children are skipping in to school, eager to explore and learn each day.

The new reading ‘dens’ have been placed both outside and inside to encourage this crucial area of development. Early reading is a key focus so the team have provided the children with every opportunity possible to read, explore books and practise their early sounds. Miss Blakesley, Early Years Lead installed a mini door to show where the ‘word monster’ comes to life. The ‘word monster’ has written to the children and they are then encouraged to write back and further develop their reading and writing skills.

The design of this engaging environment was led by Miss Blakesley and supported by Ilsham English Hub Lead, Mrs Cooke who works across the Learning Academy Partnership to drive phonics and literacy levels for all pupils. To make this new offer a reality, support was provided over the summer holidays by the dedicated Trust Estates and Services team and even Miss Blakesley’s mum, who was on hand to help with the gardening aspects of the development.

The school’s admissions window for September 2021 is now open, so they are hosting virtual visits, in place of physical ones, which parents are encouraged to attend. For more details, and a welcome video from the Head of Academy, visit

Miss Blakesley, Early Years Lead at Ellacombe Church of England Academy, said:

“We designed this space to create a sense of awe and wonder and to stimulate curiosity in the pupils about the natural world. Our aim was to engage children in learning through rich experiences including making, constructing and role play, as well as outdoor physical activities, such as bikes, hoops and balls to develop their confidence in motor skills and working together. 

“So far these new areas have been a great success with both pupils and parents and we are very excited by the brilliant developments we are seeing in our pupils in such a short space of time.”

Mrs Semmens, Head of Academy at Ellacombe Church of England Academy, said:

“We are thrilled to have been able to expand our Early Years offer at Ellacombe. It would not have been possible to develop these brilliant new facilities without the additional funding provided by the Learning Academy Partnership, and we are extremely grateful for this support on the Early Years project and so many other areas of day to day life at Ellacombe.

“The hard work and dedication which went into creating this incredible space over the summer holidays has been worth every moment. The pupils really love this space and our ultimate goal of invigorating their learning seems to have been achieved.

“Staff and parents report an increase in children’s engagement in their environment, and pupils have loved exploring their new surroundings and embraced new found independence in the confines of their safe and nurturing school environment.”

Mrs Atkinson, Chief Executive of the Learning Academy Partnership, said:

“We were delighted to provide this additional funding to Ellacombe and have been truly delighted with the excellent improvements and outcomes we are seeing in the pupils. The Learning Academy Partnership is dedicated to supporting all its schools to provide a first-class education and will continue empowering excellence in all our young people.”

New Early Years Foundation Stage facilities