|Nursery Education Inspection Report|
|ETWALL PRE-SCHOOL PLAYGROUP|
|Inspection Number: 1135234
© Crown Copyright 2000
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INSPECTION OF NURSERY EDUCATION INSPECTION REPORT
The inspection took place as part of a national programme of inspection of the educational provision for four year olds. It was commissioned by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED), a department of central government.
NURSERY EDUCATION INSPECTION REPORT
ABOUT THE INSPECTION
The purpose of the inspection is to identify strengths and weaknesses so that providers can improve the quality of educational provision and help children to achieve the Desirable Outcomes for children’s learning on entering compulsory education, (ie by the age of five). It is also to assure parents and the public that nursery education funded by the state is of an acceptable quality. The inspection report must be made available to all parents. If the setting has been inspected previously, an action plan will have been drawn up to tackle issues identified. This inspection, therefore, must also assess what progress has been made in the implementation of this plan.
Etwall Pre-School Playgroup was opened in September 1967. The playgroup’s stated aims are to enhance the development and education of children in a community group in which parents are involved and to do this within a safe, secure and stimulating environment that ensures equality of opportunity for all children and their families. The playgroup is held in the Frank Wickham Hall which serves as the village hall for Etwall, a few miles to the south of the city of Derby. The premises consist of a spacious hall, also used during the week by other groups, and a good storage area. There is also a small enclosed outside play area. The playgroup opens each morning for five days a week from 09.15 to 11.45. The session on Wednesday morning is for four year olds only. On Thursday afternoon there is an additional session for two to three year old children. The playgroup opens 36 weeks a year during school term times and is registered for twenty-five children each session, from two to five years of age. At present 44 children attend the playgroup during the week. Of these children nine are four years old, all of whom are funded. English is the first language of all the four year olds, and none of these is recognised as having special educational needs. Five staff work with the children during the week, four of whom have training and qualifications in child care and education. There have been some staff changes since the last inspection and the number of staff overall has been reduced. This means that staff work more sessions each giving the children greater consistency of care. Children come from Etwall and the surrounding local environment. The playgroup welcomes every child in the community, and children reflect the mainly white population of the surrounding rural environment. Parents of the children come from a variety of social and economic backgrounds. The playgroup is a registered charity and it is managed and supported by a committee of parents.
1.MAIN FINDINGS OF THE INSPECTION
The strengths and weaknesses of the educational provision provided
Etwall Pre-School Playgroup provide’s a varied and stimulating environment in which staff promote children’s development and progress very well. They have a caring, lively approach to the children, and the quality of teaching is good. As a result children’s learning is promoted effectively in all six areas of learning. The programmes for personal and social development, language and literacy, mathematics, knowledge and understanding of the world, physical and creative development are all good and most children should achieve appropriately in all six areas of learning by the time they are five years old. Children’s personal and social development is promoted well in the pre-school. Staff are warm and positive in their approach to the children. They encourage the children as they play, and praise their efforts and achievements appropriately. The children respond very well to the staff and standards of behaviour are consistently high. The programme for language and literacy is good overall. Staff promote listening and talking skills well when the whole group sit together and also as they support children at activities. Provision for imaginative play is excellent and well supported. Children have good access to books, but staff miss both some opportunities to extend the children’s enjoyment and proper use of them, and to provide sufficient stimulus for children to associate sounds with patterns in rhymes, with syllables, and with words and letters. The programme for mathematics is also good overall. Staff use mathematical language effectively to promote children’s understanding and they provide many worthwhile activities and resources to stimulate the children. They introduce aspects of number recognition and use of numbers appropriately, but place insufficient emphasis on encouraging children to develop an awareness of number operations through practical activities, or to record numbers in simple ways. Children’s knowledge and understanding of the world is extended through a good programme of topics and activities. Staff encourage children to talk about their families and events in their lives. They explore the features of different objects and stimulate children to ask questions and to record their findings in varied ways. The playgroup promotes children’s physical development well, achieving this through the use of good equipment, a spacious hall and a varied programme. Staff effectively encourage children to increase their physical skills, co-ordination and their ability to use different equipment. The programme to promote creative development is good and varied and there are no issues remaining regarding this from the previous inspection. Children are provided with good resources and are encouraged to explore sound, movement, colour, texture and form and to use their imaginations. The educational programme promotes the desirable learning outcomes effectively overall, but has some minor weaknesses. Planning, both oral and recorded, covers the six areas of learning and includes many valuable and stimulating activities. However, it is not always linked in detail to particular learning aims within the six areas, and therefore does not ensure that all staff share the learning focus of activities or that all aspects of learning are given appropriate emphasis, a point raised at the last inspection. The quality of teaching is good in many respects and is effective overall in promoting children’s learning, but there are some minor weaknesses. All staff demonstrate very good teaching skills, interacting well with children, skilfully encouraging them to think, to question and to enjoy learning. They provide a good range and balance of activities and very good opportunities for children to initiate activities and select resources, an issue dealt with well since the last inspection. However, they do not give sufficient attention to considering how they might plan the grouping of children better for some activities to ensure that they gain maximum benefit from those activities. Staff assess and record children’s development and progress regularly, linking this to the six areas of learning. Staff recognise however that the assessment records used at present are not entirely effective as a tool to inform the planning of future activities, a point raised during the previous inspection. Staff work well together as a team and have a good awareness of children’s needs including any special educational needs they might present. The pre-school accommodation is good and used well. There is a small secure area for outside play that is used mainly in warm, dry weather, but the hall provides a good environment and is used well for physical activities. The group has good resources that they mostly use well. The partnership between parents and carers and staff is good, and this contributes effectively to children’s learning. Parents are now given good written information about the desirable outcomes for their children’s learning by the time they are five, and of their children’s progress. They are encouraged to join the parent rota to help at sessions. The playgroup has made good progress overall in implementing the action plan drawn up in response to the six key issues following the previous inspection report. They now provide a good information brochure for parents, promote all aspects of children’s creative development well, and provide improved opportunities for children to initiate activities, select resources, and access technology to support their learning. Progress in these areas has been good. Staff have made satisfactory progress in reviewing planning and developing assessment but these issues need to be carried forward to the next action plan.
2.KEY ISSUES FOR ACTION
In order to improve the quality and standards of the educational provision, the setting should:
Further develop planning so that it is linked in more detail to particular learning aims within the six areas of learning, to ensure both that all staff share the learning focus of activities and that all aspects of learning are given appropriate emphasis. Ensure that, when appropriate, planning is informed by the assessment of children’s progress and development. Consider ways to extend the planned grouping of children for some activities to ensure they gain maximum benefit from them. In the programme for language and literacy further promote the children’s enjoyment and use of books. Provide more stimuli for children to associate sounds with patterns in rhymes, with syllables, and with words and letters. In the programme for mathematics place more emphasis on encouraging children to develop an awareness of number operations through practical activities and to record numbers in simple ways.
The provider must draw up an action plan within 40 working days of receipt of this report showing how the key issues detailed above will be addressed. The action plan must be made available to all parents. An evaluation of the action taken will form part of the next inspection.
3.SUMMARY OF JUDGEMENTS
A. QUALITY OF EDUCATIONAL PROVISION
B. CHILDREN’S SPIRITUAL, MORAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IS FOSTERED APPROPRIATELY.
C. PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTING THE ACTION PLAN IS GOOD
D. OUTCOME AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE INSPECTION
Taken overall, the quality and standards of the educational provision are acceptable in promoting the desirable outcomes for children’s learning. The action plan should show how the provider will address the key issues within 12 months of the inspection.
It is recommended that the next inspection occurs within two to four years.
4.CONTENT OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME
Children’s personal and social development is promoted well in the playgroup and is given a high priority. Staff are warm and lively in their approach to the children and interact very positively with them. This was clearly seen, for example, in the imaginative play area and during ‘circle time’. They encourage the children as they play with jigsaws, collage materials, and other table top activities and praise their efforts and achievements appropriately. The children respond very well to the staff and standards of behaviour are consistently high. The approach of staff is effective in enhancing children’s confidence and self respect, and this is further promoted by attractive displays of children’s work, including a display of photographs labelled “I’m special” including explanations of the meanings of their first names. Children respond well to each other when working in groups, sharing puzzles, taking turns playing games such as sound lotto, and when using the obstacle course. Staff encourage them to use equipment thoughtfully and to clear up when asked. Children show a clear awareness of right and wrong when using resources such as scissors,tools with the dough and the equipment in the peat tray. At times during the year visitors bring in various animals, including an owl and lambs, and photos show the children touching and holding them sensitively and with care and concern. Staff promote good relationships and the use of varied topics, books and resources are used to widen this to include a sensitivity to those of different cultures from their own. A variety of cultural events are recognised during the year including Well Dressing and Red Nose Day and religious events mostly based on Christianity, with limited reference to events in other religious and cultural groups. In this environment children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is fostered well. The environment is well planned and organised, providing children with good opportunities to concentrate and persevere at activities. Staff encourage children to recognise and express a range of feelings such as happiness, wonder and sadness as they play and respond to stories. Children, for example, match pictures of different facial expressions and they record different feelings in their drawings. Staff achieve a good balance between directing children and leaving them free to select activities and resources and use their initiative. Children enjoy, for example, using dough and imaginative play independently, with appropriate intervention at times. Personal independence is encouraged appropriately during snack times, and when using the toilet and washing.
The programme for language and literacy is good overall. Staff promote listening skills well during story and circle time and during small group activities. They encourage children to talk about their experiences picking objects of interest that the children have brought to playgroup out of a box and asking them to talk about them. They support children well at activities, encouraging them to express themselves. Provision for play is excellent. It is varied, imaginatively resourced and well supported. Children had great fun ordering food from different countries from illustrated menu cards. Children have free access to books in a well stocked book area. However, staff miss opportunities to extend the children’s enjoyment and use of books by not for example actively encouraging them to use the book area. Children are helped to recognise their own names through the use of name cards, the younger children’s are illustrated. These are placed on their chairs and tables at circle time and snack time, but they are not otherwise available for the children to refer to or copy from as they work. Older children learn to trace and copy their own names using appropriate upper and lower case letters. Letter recognition is promoted through the whole group learning a letter each week. Staff encourage the children to think of words that begin with the sound of the letter and to study the shapes of individual letters. However, overall they provide insufficient stimuli for children to associate sounds with patterns in rhymes, with syllables, and with words and letters. Staff provide good opportunities and resources for children to write and draw freely at tables and by placing writing materials in, for example, the cafe and home corner where children pretend to write lists and notes. However, apart from name writing, they do not have a progressive programme to enable children to develop writing skills systematically.
The programme for mathematics is also good overall and promotes the learning outcomes. Staff use mathematical language effectively to promote children’s understanding as they play. Many good resources such as shapes, pattern cards, beads, reels, and peg boards are used to help children to recognise and recreate mathematical patterns. Staff provide many worthwhile activities and resources to stimulate the children’s awareness. Children are asked to describe the shapes in a jigsaw, to compare things weighed in a large bucket scale, to measure things with their hands and to order and describe relative sizes. They matched paper plate faces with the same expressions, and helped to order the sizes of dolls taken from inside a Russian doll. Staff sometimes use games, number rhymes, songs and stories to reinforce counting and number awareness, but this is not consistently planned. Staff introduce number recognition through focusing on a different number each week and they encourage children to count and to use numbers as they measure the size of objects and play games. However, they place insufficient emphasis on encouraging children to develop an awareness of simple number operations through practical activities and on recording numbers in simple ways, only occasionally using the children themselves as a resource to illustrate operations like taking away and adding more. Children sometimes have access to a computer to reinforce ideas about number, relative size and position.
Children’s knowledge and understanding of the world is extended well through a good programme of topics and activities, including the seasons, light, colours, baby animals, toys and games. Staff encourage children to talk about their families and events in their lives during the daily circle time and children respond well to this. Displays show the results of some of their discussions and research, a recent one displayed the meanings of their own names. The programme for the Rising 5’s on a Wednesday includes talking about family and friends and a photo display shows how the children have grown; children also recorded their findings about relative size by drawing around each other as they lay on the floor, and by making simple block graphs. Staff encourage children to look at a variety of made and natural objects, including those that they bring to playgroup and through, for example, planting sunflower seeds. They ask children to describe different things through the use of a “feely box”. Although some activities and discussions encourage children to talk about their immediate environment, there is less attention to planning for this aspect of learning. Children’s learning is also enhanced effectively through use of good quality children’s cassette players that they also use to record and amplify their own voices. They also use calculators, alphabet and number games and sometimes have access to a computer, although planning does not ensure it is used consistently. They are encouraged to explore how things work when playing with these resources and also when making two and three dimensional objects using split pins, such as windmills and skeletons. Staff provide appropriate materials to encourage cutting, joining and folding and construction skills, and children make various three dimensional objects with boxes and other materials.
The playgroup promotes children’s physical development well, achieving this through the use of good equipment, a spacious hall and a varied programme, although planning in this area of the curriculum is not systematic. Children are encouraged to increase their physical skills and co-ordination, to move confidently and imaginatively during sessions that include music and movement, parachute games, team games and obstacle courses. They have good access to a range of large and small equipment including trikes and other wheeled toys, and were observed negotiating an obstacle course consisting of bats and balls, hoops, tunnels, beanbags and stepping stones. The playgroup has a climbing frame and some equipment for balancing, but planning does not ensure these are used regularly enough to ensure that all children increase their climbing and balancing skills. Children’s fine motor skills are stimulated well through use of appropriate tools, construction materials and other resources. They also have good opportunities to develop their physical skills during creative activities, playing with barley in a tray (as a substitute for sand), doing jigsaws, playing games, threading beads, using scissors, pencils, brushes and other resources. They have regular access to malleable materials, including dough, with many interesting tools.
The programme to promote creative development is good and varied. Children are provided with good resources and are encouraged to explore sound, movement, colour, texture and form, to use their imaginations and to increase their skills. Children explore sound in a variety of appropriate ways, including the use of small musical instruments. They also move imaginatively to different kinds of taped music, including a variety of classical music. They are encouraged to express their ideas and feelings, for example when painting fireworks listening to firework music, and they play sound games. Children have more opportunities to explore water during the summer when it can be taken outside. The playgroup is not allowed to use sand in the hall, but staff substitute this effectively with other materials with different textures including peat and barley. Dough is regularly available and used extensively by the children. They have widening opportunities to explore colour and texture though painting, printing and model making. They are encouraged to respond imaginatively to different stimuli using their different senses They make models, pictures and collages using varied materials. Imaginative play is very well provided for and supported. Drama is well promoted through small productions for festivals, notably a nativity play at Christmas, and also less formally during movement sessions in the hall. Staff have increased provision for creative development since the previous inspection and there are no issues remaining regarding this area of learning.
5.PLANNING OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME
The strengths and weaknesses of the overall planning of the educational programme
Planning of the educational programme is effective overall and promotes all six areas of learning, but has some minor weaknesses. Planning is carried out by the staff as a team, led by the supervisor, and is partly recorded using headings covering each area of learning. It gives appropriate priority to personal and social development through referring to activities that encourage sharing and the development of personal skills; although not all criteria are referred to in plans. Language and literacy is appropriately prioritised and plans refer to talking, listening to stories, writing, and providing for varied role play, but planning for some criteria within this area is including sound and word recognition is often unspecific. Planning of mathematics is also given appropriate priority. Activities are planned and resources provided each session to promote mathematical understanding, but they are not always clearly linked to particular criteria. Planning does not ensure, therefore, that all staff share an understanding of the learning focus of activities or that all aspects of learning are given appropriate emphasis, a point raised at the last inspection. The grouping of children is largely unplanned, but staff plan clearly which activities they are responsible for during a session.
6.QUALITY OF TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT
The quality of teaching is good in some respects and is satisfactory overall in promoting children’s learning, but there are some minor weaknesses. It is led by a trained and experienced supervisor who has a secure knowledge and understanding of the desirable outcomes for children’s learning by the time they are five. She works well with a staff team who have a satisfactory overall understanding of the six areas of learning. The staff organise their teaching effectively to promote learning, taking responsibility for working with children at particular activities. They provide a good range and balance of activities, some of which they direct. They also provide good opportunities for children to initiate activities and select resources, an issue raised previously and dealt with well since the last inspection. This approach is effective in developing children’s knowledge, understanding and skills. However, staff do not consider sufficiently how they might plan the grouping of children for certain activities to ensure that they gain maximum benefit from them. Staff use very good teaching methods, interacting well with the children to promote their learning. They question children effectively during circle time and as they play. Staff also encourage them to think; for example, when looking at drawings of faces during group time, children described what they thought the expressions showed and matched them to similar ones. Children respond well to staff and their behaviour is good. Staff offer skilled support as children play at tables and during imaginative play. Staff assess and record children’s development and progress regularly, linking this to the six areas of learning. They record children’s attainment and progress against the six learning areas. However, staff recognise that the assessment records used at present are not entirely effective as a tool to inform the planning of future activities, a point raised during the previous inspection. Staff meet regularly each week and more formally each half term. They work well together as a team and review planning, teaching and assessment together. They have attended courses to promote their professional development.
Boys and girls were observed playing equally in the imaginative play areas, with jigsaws, dough and paint, and when participating in physical exercise, and staff intend them all to take part in activities in this way. The teaching of language and literacy and mathematics is based on using practical resources, with some writing and recording. Boys and girls are given appropriate support in these areas of learning and when they use the computer. Staff ratios to children are good. Within the playgroup staff give children valuable attention both individually and in groups. Staff have little experience of teaching children for whom English is an additional language, but their skills could be adapted to this. The playgroup has a clear policy for assessing children with possible special educational needs based on the DfEE Code of Practice.
The pre-school accommodation is good and it is used effectively. It consists of a large, light hall with a store room leading from it. The hall accommodates a wide variety of table top, floor, imaginative and creative activities and is used well for physical activities. There is a small enclosed outside play space that is used mostly in dry, warm weather. The group has good resources that in most respects staff use well; as a result children’s learning is effectively promoted. Resources such as games that involve sharing and turn taking are used well to promote personal and social development. Staff provide good writing materials and books to promote language and literacy but do not ensure that children use them fully. Staff make good use of a variety of resources to promote mathematical understanding and these are provided each day, including scales, puzzles, beads, shapes and patterns. They use good resources, tools and materials to support knowledge and understanding of the world and creativity. Children have limited access to a computer to support their learning, but this is complemented by the use of tape recorders and calculators. There is some very good large and small equipment that is used well to promote physical development, although climbing and balancing equipment is used less frequently. Resources including books and games are adaptable and suitable for use with children with special educational needs, and for children for whom English is an additional language.
7.PARTNERSHIP WITH PARENTS AND CARERS
The strengths and weaknesses of the partnership with parents and carers
The partnership between staff and parents and carers is good and the involvement of parents contributes effectively to children’s learning. Parents are given good information about topics being studied and other aspects of playgroup life. There is a new brochure that contains useful information about the desirable outcomes for children’s learning, although this information is not always sufficiently drawn to the attention of parents. Parents are informed about their children’s attainment and progress through written reports before the children transfer to school, and informally through daily contact. Parents confirm that they feel welcome to help as volunteers on the rota and to join in when there are visitors and with trips and special events, such as the Christmas celebrations. Staff discuss children’s levels of development when they start at the playgroup and this lays a good foundation for the encouragement of parents to share their observations of their children at home. Parents see staff as approachable, friendly, and good listeners and they are able to discuss matters concerning their children’s development easily with them.
8.IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACTION PLAN
Implementation of action plan
The playgroup has made good progress overall in implementing the action plan drawn up in response to the six key issues following the previous inspection report. Staff were asked to improve planning and assessment, to provide an improved brochure for parents, to improve their promotion of creative development, provide better opportunities for children to choose and initiate activities, and improve children’s access to technology. Staff now provide a good brochure for parents which gives the parents more information about the curriculum and therefore extends their ability to become involved in their children’s learning. All aspects of children’s creative development are now well promoted, providing children with enhanced opportunities to explore, respond, express ideas and communicate feelings through a variety of creative mediums. Staff have worked hard to provide improved opportunities for children to initiate activities and select resources, purchasing mobile trolleys with shelves that enable children to have a greater range of resources to chose from freely. Children are able to access an increased amount of technology to support their learning, including a computer. Progress in these four areas has been good. Staff have made satisfactory progress in reviewing planning using the six areas of learning broadly to inform their plans. However, there is some lack of detailed reference to the criteria within each area. This lack of specific reference fails to ensure that all staff share the learning focus of activities and that all aspects of learning are given appropriate emphasis. Staff have continued to develop the recording of their assessment of children’s attainment and progress. However, despite producing detailed documents covering the six areas of learning, they are not sufficiently useful as documents to inform their planning of activities to ensure that children progress. These two issues need to be carried forward to the next action plan.