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Children use emotion cushions to show happiness or anger at 'outstanding' nursery

Article By: Sue Learner

A nursery in Telford has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted inspectors, who found ‘warm and caring staff helped children to develop empathy and also enabled them to take ‘manageable risks’.

Church Street Day Nursery Ltd was given the top rating in all the four key areas - leadership, teaching and learning, behaviour and welfare, and outcomes.

Corinne Mitchell, who owns the nursery, said: “We are so proud beyond words at the quality of teaching and leadership within our nursery, so to receive an ‘outstanding’ result has just shown us that all the hard work has really paid off. Our team here at Church Street is an amazing one.”

Co-owner, Deb Holiday, added: “This was always the vision from day one. We were confident that we could not only build an amazing and outstanding nursery but an amazing and outstanding team.”

Staff have ‘developed exemplary relationships with parents’ with the manager ‘meticulously monitoring the educational programme’ and children making ‘rapid progress’, according to inspectors.

The nursery was also praised for helping children to develop empathy and enhancing their ‘emotional attachments’.

Facial expressions

Children are kept in touch with their feelings, through the use of emotion cushions which depict a whole range of emotions including sadness, happiness, tiredness and anger.

The staff mirror the emotions of the facial cushion with their own expression and discuss the feeling with the children.

Nursery manager, Stephanie Thomas, said: “The cushions have facial expressions on so visually children can see and learn a range of emotions.

“This allows the children to talk and express about how they may be feeling on relevant topics such as moving house, birthdays or feeling poorly.

“We bring the cushions out during our registration times and learning topics such as ‘all about me’.”

Risky play

The nursery also believes it is important that the children take ‘manageable risks’.

Ms Mitchell explains: “Children should feel proud when they have completed a challenge that involves risk. Our staff will encourage, support and offer guidance throughout risky play and sometimes things not going to plan is part of learning.

“A recent example of ‘risky play’ would be making a fire at forest school and toasting marshmallows. Before this activity was carried out, the staff and children talked about the hazards of fire and why listening and follow instruction from grown-ups is so important.

“Sharp tools were also used which again the children and staff spoke about first and demonstrated how to use these safely. The activity was a great success and the children showed a respect towards the staff for allowing them to be part of something so exciting.”

The nursery encourages the children to use sharp tools under supervision such as scissors, with staff demonstrating how to use them safely.

“They use scissors to help design and make natural items such as stick photo frames.

“Whilst collecting mud and soil for projects, children will use small spades and forks, with staff showing the children how to handle and move safely with the digging tools.

“As well, in our toasting marshmallow activity, staff demonstrate how to use the skewers sensibly to place the marshmallow onto,” explained Stephanie Thomas.

The nursery's weekly forest school sessions are run by trained staff.

Inspectors found that ‘during forest school, children use natural resources, such as sticks and mud to create their own pictures on the forest ground, with staff using an extensive range of questioning techniques and new words to enhance children's vocabulary’.

“Forest school allows the children to be able to investigate the natural outdoor environment first hand and not just through pictures and media. It's also about teaching the children to respect nature and wildlife,” said nursery owner Corinne Mitchell.

You can read the full inspection report here

click here for more details or to contact Church Street Day Nursery Ltd


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