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Wellbeing at the heart

Wellbeing at the heart of our new Early Years at Wellington College International Pune

This is an exciting time for the Wellington International family as we open our first school in India and the city of Pune.

 Conrad Botha, Head of Early Years explains how wellbeing and involvement are considered the key elements of all aspects of this founding team.

“At Wellington College International Pune we believe that a happy, involved child is one who can experience the world at its fullest, and high levels of involvement coupled with high levels of wellbeing is the perfect recipe for deep learning and development.” WCIP EY Curriculum, 2023

For us, play is seen as the perfect state for children to exhibit the Characteristics of Effective Learning, as it is often during play that children have their highest levels of Wellbeing and Involvement, or what is sometimes referred to as the ‘flow state’; the feeling of being intensely focussed and almost losing the sense of time passing by because they are so absorbed in what they are doing. In recent months we have seen the development and implementation of the NCF (National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage, 2022) across early years settings in India, making available evidence from global best practices placing play at the core of curricula, pedagogy, time and content rhythms, and the overall experience of the child.

The characteristics of effective teaching and learning

In planning and guiding what children learn, practitioners must reflect on the different rates at which children are developing and adjust their practice appropriately. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:

playing and exploring

children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’

active learning

children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements

creating and thinking critically

children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things

Statutory framework for the EYFS, 2021

In India, as in other countries, there is an increasing interest in the personal, social, and emotional development of young children and the impact it has on enriching and improving the experiences, opportunities, and academic outcomes of children in their early years. Globally across our Wellington College International family of schools, we have designed our early years to embrace independent exploration, empower personal, social, and emotional development, and equip our children with the skills and knowledge to represent their ideas and reflect on their learning.

The Leuven Scales, first pioneered by Professor Ferre Leavers and his team at Leuven University in Belgium, inform our early years practices and support our understanding of how focused and comfortable our children are within our settings and learning environments. More importantly how we need to respond to their individual learning journeys, through the provision on offer, the environment, and the intention to challenge, maintain, guide, and scaffold their learning. We firmly believe that high levels of both well-being and involvement allow our children to experience a deep state of learning and make maximum progress in all areas of development.


Area of Learning


Personal, Social, and Emotional Development


Managing Self

Building Relationships

Physical development

Gross Motor Skills

Fine Motor Skills

Communication and Language

Listening, Attention, and Understanding




Word Reading




Numerical Patterns

Understanding the World

Past and Present

People, Culture and Communities

The Natural World

Expressive Arts and Design

Creating with Materials

Being Imaginative and Expressive


Revised EYFS, Development Matters, 2021

With our fluid and contemporary approach to education which is reflected in the physical environment, our children truly get to learn in the moment through carefully balanced adult-initiated experiences (intentional learning) and child-initiated investigations in an authentic, nurturing, and sustainable environment.  The early years in Pune is perfectly designed to facilitate a smooth passage between classrooms and outdoor spaces. These spaces include natural dens, pottery, outdoor play kitchens, apparatuses, balance equipment, and large block play. There are also designated areas for outdoor music, bikes, vegetable gardens, and open spaces with an abundance of heuristic-type materials

“A child’s play is not simply a reproduction of what he has experienced, but a creative reworking of the impressions he has acquired.” Lev Vygotsky

A holistic approach to education underpins all facets of our Early Years classroom provision. Calming colours and wooden resources create an atmosphere of comfort and respect, with our furniture configurations allowing children seamless transitions between individual, small, and large group interactions. Equally, in selecting authentic resources that mirror real life, we provide our children with a variety of opportunities to process their world through play.




To enable children to make their own ideas visible, we provide open-ended resources that can be used in a myriad of ways. For example, rather than provide character dresses, we provide beautiful fabrics which could be used as dresses, tablecloths, picnic blankets, the sails of a ship, or the roof of a den.  In addition, our Learning Village creates extensive opportunities for children to explore their passions, learn new skills, and build friendships across the setting and college. The Learning Village has been designed with the aim of instilling a sense of collaboration from a young age, for our children to learn about where they fit in, and to begin to understand the value of having a community to guide them on their journey of lifelong learning, joy, and wellbeing.

We believe the potential within these highly sophisticated spaces are endless — for symbolic play, physical challenges, or to foster marvellous episodes of child-initiated play — and reflects our commitment to creating inspired, individual, and independent learners. The result is a rich child-centred programme deeply rooted in knowledge of place where children are inspired to act and respond to a rich, complex, and sophisticated real-world environment leading seamlessly from the early years to further learning in the next stage of their primary education.


Author : Conrad Botha Head of Early Years at Wellington College India.