Choosing a Pre-Reception or Nursery is one of the most important decisions parents have to make. Marisa White, Pre-Reception Manager at New Hall School in Chelmsford, shares her tips for what to look for when making this decision.
Ask to see a copy of the recent Ofsted or ISI inspection report, which highlights the overall quality of the education, care and appropriateness of equipment and facilities. This should be available on the school’s website or by asking a member of staff.
The Early Years Stage is the most rapid stage of development in a child’s life and is a once in a lifetime opportunity to give the best possible start to their educational journey. The curriculum should be broad and inspirational, providing your child with the chance to try something new, and should be adjusted to match each child's abilities . In line with the government’s Early Years Foundation Stage documentation, it should cover the seven areas of the Early Years Curriculum. At New Hall, there are additional subjects available such as French, Music, Ballet and Sport which are taught by specialist teachers.
The daily experience of children in Early Years and the quality of provision depends on practitioners having appropriate qualifications, training, skills and knowledge. A good Pre-Reception will take pride in their commitment to recruiting the best staff and recognise the clear link between well-qualified enthusiastic staff and quality care. At present, the minimum ratio of children to staff, for children over 3 years, is 1:8.
Schools should be committed to the provision of a safe environment for the children in their care. Children should feel happy and confident in a stimulating and safe environment. The equipment should be of a good quality, clean and appropriate. Children should have regular access to a secure and clean outdoor area.
The ethos should indicate to parents what the values, beliefs and aims are of the setting. It should tell parents what principles the Pre-Reception is committed to and what atmosphere they aim to create.
Partnership with parents
Parents should have opportunities be involved and to understand how their child is progressing. Early Years provision is an active partnership with parents, which flourishes through effective communication. Regular parent evenings, newsletters, dedicated parent notice boards and regular informal discussions will ensure a high level of feedback.
A Good Reputation
A good Pre-Reception should have a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and be known for its nurturing environment and stimulating curriculum. Consider asking the school if you are able to chat to current parents or arrange a visit during the afternoon pick-up time to get a true feel of the relationship between the school and parents.
Admission into New Hall School, starts from the age of 3 years old. 3 and 4 year olds who are eligible for the government’s Free Early Years’ Entitlement can currently receive up to 15 hours per week of free education. Early registration is advised. To arrange a visit, contact the Admissions Department on 01245 236 098 or visit the Pre-Reception page to find out more.