Cambridge Early Years

Cambridge Early Years is our new programme for 3-6 year olds. It gives young learners the best start in life, helping them to meet key early milestones and thrive in and outside of school. Cambridge Early Years is the first stage in our Cambridge Pathway, which gives students a clear path for educational success from age 3-19.

Why choose Cambridge Early Years?

It helps children develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they need for the next stage in their education – whether they move on to Cambridge Primary or another programme.

It is a child-centred, play-based programme that helps young learners to develop at their own pace. It encourages them to act independently, make their own choices and discover feelings of self-worth.

It includes everything you need for high-quality learning: a holistic, balanced curriculum, engaging classroom resources, professional development and assessment approaches to help you measure your learners’ progress. We believe that Cambridge Early Years works best when you use all elements of the programme together.

It supports learners, whatever their level of English when they begin the programme. We also help you offer a bilingual or multilingual approach if learners have a home language other than English.

Our approach

We developed Cambridge Early Years in collaboration with trusted early years experts, so it reflects the very latest educational thinking.

Our approach is built around these key principles:


We believe in giving Cambridge schools the power to shape their curriculum around how they want students to learn.


Children should be involved in their own learning through well-planned experiences that help them develop competence, agency, emotional attachment and self-worth.


Learning should encourage a balance of physical, cognitive, language and communications, and social and emotional development.


Learning should be age appropriate, play-based and child centred. It should include both child- and adult-led activities.


Early years education should help children transition successfully to primary school, moving from informal, play-based learning to teaching that is more formal.


The Cambridge Early Years curriculum:

  • follows a holistic approach that focuses on the whole child and connects their development with the world and people around them.
  • is built around four key areas of early childhood development:
  • Physical developmen
  • Cognitive development
  • Language and communication development

Social and emotional development

  • develops knowledge, understanding and skills through a spiral approach, by revisiting and engaging with topics and skills in more depth at each stage.
  • helps learners to meet internationally established milestones for early development. Although children develop at different rates, the curriculum provides a structure for teaching and learning that will help you to monitor and support each child’s progress.
  • supports a bilingual or multilingual approach for learners with a home language other than English, as well as those with different experiences of English
  • prepares learners to easily transition into Cambridge Primary, or the next stage in their education.
  • content is split into six curriculum areas to guide you and support progress.

Curriculum areas

Our six curriculum ares help you to guide and support progress across all areas of development.

Communication and literacy

Speaking, listening, reading and writing are crucial to children’s early development. Showing children the importance of language through fun activities and encouraging them to engage with a wide range of texts helps to ignite a lifelong curiosity for learning.

Creative expression

Creative expression allows children to communicate their ideas and develop their imagination through art and design, music, dance and drama. This important area brings together skills and cognitive processes from across the whole curriculum.


At an early age, it’s important to help children recognise how mathematics impacts everyday life. Through games and activities, we can introduce children to mathematical language, thinking and concepts that they will need when they start their primary education.

Physical development

Our curriculum encourages children to develop movement skills through play, helping them to develop positive attitudes towards exercise and laying the foundations for healthy, active lives.

Personal, social and emotional development

This area is central to children’s lives. It underpins their wellbeing and attainment in all other areas of their learning. This area helps them to develop social learning and friendships, regulate their emotional responses and respond to the needs of others, and develop self-esteem and confidence.

Understanding the world

This area of the curriculum encourages children’s natural curiosity as they explore the world around them. It lays foundations for a range of different subjects in primary education and beyond, including science, digital literacy, computing and humanities.