This was my first time visiting settings within the UK outside of N.Ireland, I have lots of experience visiting European settings but none in England, I'm not sure I was prepared for how different they would feel.
Alfreton is a stand alone nursery school with 110 children attending on a part time basis, some of the children may do some full days, others just the morning or afternoon. They operate an open plan day (or continuous provision) so the whole building is used & the children are free to move from indoors to outdoors throughout their time at school. By having it open plan, the whole area can be used rather than having 2 distinct classrooms with each having a house corner, water tray or sand tray etc. as is more common in most N.Ireland settings (though both the Principals travelling with me operate an open plan system in their schools). In this nursery Angela, the Head Teacher is not teaching full-time so there are 2 other teachers & numerous assistants. The level of staffing is very high & this allowed for a very calm & relaxed feel to the whole setting. Most of the nursery schools we visited had officer managers too - most unsual from our point of view.
From the moment we walked in the door the welcoming atmosphere was so apparent, everyone was so calm & friendly & even as children were being dropped off it was a very relaxed, laid back affair. The school was laid out in very distinct areas - a construction/block area, baking area (on Thursdays) science area, number tent, floor play for trains, mark making area, role play/imaginative areas, music corner, reading area & an atelier area with water play & art. At any time any of these areas could be closed off by simply placing a clothes drier across the entrance.
|A simple cloth barrier allows areas to be closed off during the day.|
|Baking & numbers on the numeracy side of the school.|
|Mark making & painting in the Atelier area.|
Respect is a big theme in this school & it really does show right across the school, from the way the children speak to each to other and the adults and vice versa. This is a team that works well together, making it look effortless & Angela in particular, moves about the space in such a serene manner, nothing looks like it is too much trouble yet, I know that she must work very hard to have got the school to this amazing level of learning.
|This nursery is a Rights Respecting School & respect is a key theme throughout the school.|
|Lots of natural storage was in evidence.|
|The snack area is in a little covered courtyard space.|
|Evidence of learning is everywhere.|
|The Atelier Space is an inspiring area - who wouldn't want to be creative in an area like this.|
I only hope that when visitors come to my setting they are made half as welcome as we were & that they find a 10th of the inspiration I got from this amazing school.
A massive thanks to Angela & her team at Alfreton for making us so welcome & to the many children who allowed me to join them in their play that day. Most of all thanks to Peter for reaching out to me & making this connection - a life long one I hope.