January 2017

Dear parents and carers,

Welcome to the January edition of our nursery newsletter and Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2017. We’re looking forward to an exciting new year in the nurseries, with lots going on over the Christmas break.


Some exciting news for the new year to come

Teddington Nursery has a new manager, Hanifa, who is working with the Early Years team to make much needed changes to environments and purchase new equipment for the children. Hampton has just had the second stage of their refurbishment completed and is now awaiting the start of phase three, which will address the outdoor play area and the parent room.

For the rest of us, its time to dust off the cobwebs and think about our priorities for teaching and learning in the nurseries. Now that the new children are settled into their rooms, we can focus on extending their skills in the way they learn best

Building Brains: helping children to learn through practical experiences and exploration

We know that young children’s brains develop and grow very quickly in the first three years of their life. Neurons are whizzing around and flashing like the lights on your Christmas tree. Our job is to keep those lights on and strengthen the ‘sheath’ that enables the messages to pass more quickly from one part of the brain to another. We do this by providing children with lots of opportunities to use their senses in their learning; touching, smelling, listening; speaking and tasting.

That’s why in our nurseries we provide children with lots of natural materials to play with and to explore; especially our youngest children. Most other nurseries have lots of plastic, because its brightly coloured and lasts a long time. The downfall of plastic is that it all tastes, smells and feels the same.

That’s why in our nurseries, we provide children of all ages with as many opportunities to explore natural materials and real items repeatedly, allowing them to develop their sensory knowledge about the world they live in; strengthening the ‘sheath’ around the axons and helping to seal in memories deep within the brain.

After all, how will you know about a carrot from a picture or from playing with a plastic carrot in the role play area? The only way to find out about a carrot is to feel it, touch it, smell it and even taste it! You’ll find lots of real vegetables and fruit in our role play areas, for that very reason.

Playing and exploring with open ended, natural materials promotes higher level thinking and develops axons in the brain.

You can help with this at home. Provide your children with the opportunity to play with real items and natural materials. Treasure baskets are great for younger children and babies.

Scour the drawers at home, ask friends and relatives for donations, and make a treasure basket for your baby or toddler. You can theme the baskets with a small collection of brushes (a nail brush, pastry brush, hair brush, tooth brush, soft scrubbing brush, make up brushes, paint brush etc) scarves or even wooden items (wooden spoon, small rolling pin, honey twister, curtain rings, bracelets etc). Check them for safety and remember that these items are not toys so you should supervise your child when they explore

For older children, create a messy play station on the floor of the kitchen. Put a plastic table cloth on the floor and use an old washing up bowl to put a variety of materials in each day for your child to explore. Collect some leaves or make some ‘gloop’ with cornflour and water. Make dough with flour and water and add glitter and lavender or spices to make it smell. You can then use the dough to make long sausages and write your name or create numbers with the sausages, to add a little more challenge. 

Encourage your children to help in the kitchen, performing ‘real’ jobs. Let them help with the washing up or cleaning the vegetables for supper with a brush. Give them a little pastry when you make a pie and let them make a jam tart or pasty for themselves. Real life tasks help to build experience and skills and support physical development. If you have a role play kitchen, throw out the plastic fruit and veg and replace with real items. So much more fun and what a great way to learn!

If you want to know more about natural materials, open ended resources and treasure baskets, ask your child’s play-partner. We’d love to share. In the meantime, have fun finding ways to encourage your child to explore through their senses, and know that you’re helping them to build their brains.

Best wishes,

Caroline and Mim

Early Years Team

November 2016

Dear parents and carers,

Welcome to the November edition of our nursery newsletter!

Following on from last months’ newsletter where we advocate the benefits of outdoor play, even in the winter, we’ve found a thought-provoking article from The Guardian (Kate Blincoe, October 16) that we thought you might find interesting.

Blincoe cites a recent all-party parliamentary group report on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, which has led to lots of parents asking themselves how much risk they should introduce into their children’s lives. The report says that: “Risky play, involving perhaps rough and tumble, height, speed, playing near potentially dangerous elements… gives children a feeling of thrill and excitement.” Whilst we clearly don’t want to put children at risk of danger, we perhaps should think about this a little in the context of Early Years education and helping children to learn about their own limitations and how their bodies work.

Let’s encourage our children into the great outdoors

Research from Play England (2006) shows that age appropriate ‘risk’ is an essential component of a balanced childhood. Allowing children to take managed risks, such as climbing a tree or balancing on a wall, enables them to experience fear, and learn the strengths and limitations of their own body. The thinking is, that unless children are allowed to take appropriate risks with the support of a caring adult, they won’t know whether something is safe or unsafe when they are in a risky situation and there is no adult around to help. I wouldn’t be suggesting you drop your toddler off in the woods and sit back and watch what happens but I do think this is something that perhaps we should think about.  

There’s lots of evidence that many children today get taken from home to the padded soft play centre, to nursery, and back to the sofa and simply don’t get the opportunities we used to get as children. I remember playing outside, in the garden or out in the park with my friends and learning to take care of each other whilst we were out. We don’t expect children to turn into Bear Grylls either, but perhaps we need to consider whether the opportunities we give them to learn about their bodies and about taking risks are enough. As parents, we are so focused on keeping our children safe, that the roaming distance of children (how far children play from home) has decreased by 90% in the past 30 years. If you want a good read on how this affects children, try, ‘Last Child in the Woods’ (Louve 2005) who talks about this in some detail.

Bilincoe says parents these days, project-manage a schedule of activities for their children from a very early age and then spend their time waiting and watching, anxious in case they should slip or fall and doing their best to make sure they don’t. She says, it’s no wonder that the ‘make pretend’ risks children encounter in computer games are so exciting – the real world seems rather tame in comparison. 

So how can we put some of that danger and excitement back into the lives of our children? We suggest a step-by-step, age-appropriate risks are important. The outdoor environment is key to this. Outdoor time every day is essential, and don’t just gravitate to the neat and controlled environment of the play area. Encourage your toddler to poke around under hedges and permit your pre-schooler to climb and explore. Unsupervised time, in the garden, might lead to more cuts and scrapes or fights between siblings and friends, but it is what most of us did as children and it teaches children how to make risk-related decisions for themselves, including whether or not to share and the ‘cause and effect’ of quarrelling.

Risk perception is like a muscle that needs to be developed and flexed. Unless we use it, we lose it.

So, let them climb in streams and fall over in the water wearing all their clothes; let them slide in mud or splash in puddles with no shoes on; let them go out without a coat and feel the rain on their face. Encourage them climb and dig and generally check-out the world around them. Our job as the caring adult and loving parent is to manage the risk – checking the branch on the tree before they climb or researching good streams to paddle in, then stepping back to allow them to make their own decisions, which will inevitably vary from child to child. Don’t forget to have fun yourself – join in with the risk and enjoy being a parent as your child discovers their abilities and learns to manage their own risks.


‘You don’t stop playing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop playing’

Oscar Wilde



Best wishes,


Caroline and Mim

Early Years Team

October 2016

Dear parents and carers,

Autumn Activities – let’s get outdoors!

Autumn is quickly approaching – signalling the end of play days without coats and shoes, but it doesn’t mean the end of outdoor play for us in nurseries. We promote ‘free flow play’ (Bruce 1986) that encourages children to learn in their preferred environment. We know don’t we, that some children are so much happier outside, digging in the dirt, climbing or just simply running around? We want to take advantage of that because we know that when children are engaged and busy, they are learning and what better place to learn about the world we live in than outdoors?

After-all, how can a child learn about the wind if she doesn’t feel it in her face? How does she learn about the rain if she doesn’t catch raindrops on her hands? What better way to learn about force and trajectory than stamping in a puddle and just seeing how far and how high you can make the water splash? Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. So please help us to support your child’s learning outdoors by bringing in wellies and suitable coats/trousers, with spares for when they get wet – and its most likely that they will get wet, and dirty – and learn lots!

Please don’t be worried about your child getting a cold or catching a chill through playing outdoors in wet/cold weather. Your child will be able to come indoors freely if they feel cold; this helps them to learn about how their bodies work, and how to manage their own needs. And don’t worry, we will remind them about putting on coats, hats, boots and gloves to help to keep warm. The great Early Childhood pioneer, Margaret MacMillan, reminds us as far back as 1914 that, it’s a fact, germs and viruses don’t survive well in cold, wet conditions, therefore, being out in the fresh air is the best place to avoid getting poorly. In fact, the warm nursery, with lots of children all indoors together makes a perfect breeding ground for childhood illnesses; another good reason why we promote free flow with doors open throughout the day.

Did you know, The Children’s Play Council has done some research that shows that children who have easy, regular access to outdoor, energetic play:

•  Are better at physical tasks e.g. doing up a coat, hand writing and so on

•  Are fitter and healthier – less likely to suffer from obesity or be overweight

•  Are less likely to become stressed and anxious due to higher levels of serotonin in the brain

•  Eat better and digest their food more effectively;

•  Sleep better at night

•  Have improved concentration and think more clearly

•  Have improved immune systems due to raised oxygen levels.

Even more good reasons for being outdoors – whatever the weather!

Research on brain development and children’s learning has proven that physical activity increases the flow of blood to the brain, and this helps the connections in children’s brains to grow, multiply and work more effectively.


In the nursery we’ll be taking children on walks to the local park at this time of the year, or just in the local area, to collect sticks, leaves, conkers and fir cones. We’ll use these to enhance our learning about size, shape and colours; comparing and sorting into sets. You can do this with your children at home too, and remember, sticks can make excellent small world toys if you’re a child. Sticks of different sizes can represent different members of the family, and it’s easy to make houses out of sticks, with leaves for a roof or a cover for the baby’s bed. Conkers can be ‘food’ for feeding teddy or if you want to be really creative, you can make necklaces or bracelets with conkers too. Paint them if you want, or choose the ones with the brightest orange colour, or those that are dark brown – it’s up to you!

Do you remember using fir cones to predict the weather when you were a child? Take your little one for a walk and collect a bag full of cones; string them up and hang them outside near the house or near a window. When the cone is closed, the weather is going to be wet and cold; when its open its going to be a fine day. You could make a chart to show how many wet days you’ve had in the autumn or how many sunny warm days you’ve had. Great for Mathematics and also for knowledge of the world.

Collecting and playing in leaves is great fun. When you bring them home you could paint them; glue them onto paper and make lovely patters. Compare the size; talk about shapes and colours; look to see how many points they have; are the edges smooth or jagged? Lots of language for description and thinking as well as using the language of mathematics. 

Most importantly, enjoy being outside together and learning about the seasons through practical experiences.  Remember, 

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, and snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." - John Ruskin


Best wishes,


Caroline and Mim

Early Years Team

September 2016

Dear parents and carers,

Welcome to the Autumn term!

Summer is almost over and sadly, we’ve lost some of our children to school as they progress to the next stage in their learning journey. We wish them well and hope to see them again when they come to visit.

However, we’re now entering a really busy time of the year in nursery; we’re all getting to know the new children in our rooms and finding out about what they know, what they do well and how they like to learn.  Settling the new children and helping them to make friends with children who are more familiar to us is a key focus for the next two or three months.

To help the staff with this important task, we’ve done some training around children’s play patterns (or ‘schema’) and ‘wellbeing and involvement’.

Schemas were first identified by Piaget (1967) and since then we’ve learned much more about how children use these patterns of play to help them to extend their knowledge and develop their own theories about how things work in the world.

Wellbeing and involvement have been identified by researchers (Laevers 1994; Pascal & Bertram 1999) as key to understanding how children are feeling and promoting learning through independent play.


Have you ever given a present to your child and noticed that they play with the box more than the toy? Does your child spend ages washing up at the sink or playing in the taps in the bathroom? Does your child mix bubbles and shampoo and talc at bath-time to your annoyance? There might be a schema going on!

Not all children learn through play patterns, but if your child does, you’ll recognise some of the behaviours that have been identified by researchers at Pen Green and outlined below:

•  Carrying things around in boxes, baskets or in a truck; moving things from one place to another. Does your child collect things that you lose? Keys, pens, phone, TV remote etc… and you eventually find them in his/her favourite bag or trolley? – Your child might be displaying a ‘transporter’ schema. Other things to watch out for are pushing friends in a pram or on the bike; play being focused on ‘going on holiday’ or ‘going on a picnic’. Transporter schema helps children to learn about quantity, numbers, time, distance and length.

•  A fascination with taps and running water; jumping from furniture onto the floor or onto people. Dropping things deliberately from the high chair or cot; making arks in food that spilled on the table or high chair tray; throwing, kicking and running, all are signs of a ‘trajectory’ schema that help your child to learn about length, time, speed, force, distance, height and direction.

•  If your child likes to experiment by mixing ingredients in the kitchen – helping you to make cakes; adding water to sand and playing with mud and stones he/she might be exploring ‘transformation’. This helps to understand scientific principles of physical change.

•  Another common schema is ‘rotation’ – children who are interested in rotation often walk or run in circles; ride bikes around and around, whilst looking at the wheels; they like to draw circles and curved lines and love being swung around in rough and tumble play. They’re learning about function and movement, rotation, dynamics and space and shape.

Our training focused on ways to help children to learn more by providing activities that enable them to practice their schema until they’re satisfied they’ve learned all they can and are ready to move on.

There are lots more common schema and if you’d like to know more, please ask your child’s play partner for a copy of the ‘common schema’ handout. You might find it useful and interesting to understand more about your child’s learning style and how the sometimes ‘annoying’ things that they do over and over again, contribute to their learning. We would love it if you are able to share with us what you know about your child’s preferred learning patterns. Tell us what they like to do and bring in photographs to illustrate their explorations.

Wellbeing and Involvement

We know don’t we, that when children are at ease and feeling happy and secure, they develop high levels of confidence and self-esteem? We also know from what we see of our children at home and in nursery that when they are relaxed and feel secure, they form friendships with adults and other children and really enjoy play and activities. The more involved children are in activities, the more time they spend exploring and the more opportunity there is for them to learn new things. We will be using ‘wellbeing and involvement scales’ in our observations in the next few weeks, to help us to identify where we need to do more to help children to settle and to plan activities that they find interesting and enjoyable.

How can you help?

Please tell us more about what your children enjoy at home so that we can use this information to plan what we will do in nursery. We want them to be interested and confident to explore so that they can learn and develop with confidence.

Some ideas for extending play patterns at home and diverting the ‘challenging’ behaviour:

Trajectory – make a throwing basket, with soft items especially made for throwing (sponges, rolled up socks, bath poofers, hand made pom-poms etc). Make a game of this – how far can you throw? How many can you get in the basket? Can you get them into the ‘small’/large basket?

Jumping games – how far can you jump on two legs? How many jumps to get to the fence/gate etc? practice ‘bunny jumps’, ‘kangaroo jumps’. Leg stretch jumps to see how far you can jump.

Put some shaving foam onto the table top for baby who likes to make ‘food arches’ and encourage wider, bigger movements.

Transporter – extend by providing different kinds of bags, containers etc for moving things around. How many bricks can we get in this bag? What shall we take on our picnic game – pack a picnic bag and take it to a picnic spot in the garden/lounge. Read stories about travelling and journeys.

Rotation – provide toys with wheels, trains, cars. Load up the washing machine or tumble dryer together and watch the clothes as they toss and move in the drum. Talk about what you can see. Collect things that roll and see how far they can go. Who can make them go furthest? Try playing boules in the garden.

Enjoy playing together whilst the weather lasts!

Best wishes,


Caroline and Mim

Early Years Team

July 2016

Dear parents and carers,

Welcome to the July edition of our nursery newsletter.

Supporting transitions

We’ve done lots of thinking about transitions for children who are leaving us to start primary school, but what about those children who are either just about to start nursery, or who are moving to a different room? It’s important that we support them too, so that they quickly settle into a new routine and most importantly, feel safe and secure.

That’s why the theory of attachment (Bowlby, Ainsworth) is so important for us to remember at this time of the year. We know that very young babies need to form strong attachments to their carers in order to be emotionally secure. Forming relationships with the play partner is especially important in the baby nest. Our new ‘welcome to the baby nest’ leaflet will be useful if you are a new parent but also really important that existing parents whose baby is moving to fledglings. It’s worth remembering that your baby’s sense of smell is still very strong and so a scarf or comfort blanket of some kind will help them to feel secure when you are not there. Giving the scarf to the new play partner at the start of each session, will help your baby to recognise the familiar smell and feel attached to the new play partner.

Older babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers also form attachments to ‘things’ and ‘places’ – so moving to another room can be difficult. To help, you can take them to visit the new room and get to know the new play partner. We will do this during the two weeks or so prior to the move, but if you can spare a few minutes in the morning or afternoon to do this as well, it helps your child to know that you’re ok with the move and that you will support them too.

You can show them where the toilet is and where they will hang their coat when they come to the room. It’s always nice when mummy and/or daddy know about the room too. That way, when you talk about the new room, your child will be able to take on some of your confidence about the pending changes.

Taking time to bring photographs of special people and popping them into your child’s learning journal will also help. The play partner will then be able to talk to your child about people at home, their favourite pet and favourite toys. There are special pages for this in the Learning Journal so that you can talk to the new play partner and help them to get to know your child before the day of the move.

If your child has a special toy that they play with in the nursery, let us know. Also, if they have a special toy or comforter at home, bring them in, particularly for the first few weeks.

Make sure they are clearly labelled, otherwise your child will be very sad if they get lost. Remember to tell the play partner that they are significant to your child, so that if they need extra comfort at any time, the play partner can get the item from your child’s drawer or personal basket.

Talk to your child at home about the changes that are coming up. This helps them to be prepared. Use the name of the new play partner when you’re talking about the move and ask the room supervisor or nursery manager for a photograph.

Most of all, remember how you feel when you go for a new job or move house and don’t know any of your neighbours or workmates. Ask questions before the move, so that you can help your child to be prepared. Be sympathetic and understand that your child might be more ‘clingy’ than usual, more tired at the end of the day. This is all normal. Allow time to help your child settle at the beginning of the day so that you don’t have to ‘drop and run’. Five minutes to hand them over to their play partner will be worth it in the long run.

Happy transitions!


Best wishes,


Caroline and Mim

Early Years Team

June 2016

Dear parents and carers,

Welcome to the June edition of our nursery newsletter.

Supporting transitions

As a parent, you’re probably thinking about what we are doing do help your child to be ready for school. Being ready to read is often a big concern.  To reassure you, at nursery your child will have been following the Letters and Sounds phase 1 programme (DfES 2007) for quite some time, probably without you even knowing it. We start the Letters and Sounds programme with our very young children.

We help children to develop their listening skills, so that they are able to discriminate sounds in words; supporting rhythm and rhyme so that they can hear the rhythm of spoken and written language and playing with sounds, so that they begin to make the sounds in words that they will later read in books. To further support reading readiness, we share books every day both on a one-to-one basis and in groups. We encourage children to enjoy the pleasure of books so that they have a strong desire to read alone in the future.

When he/she goes to school, in Reception Class, your child will continue to follow phase 1 of the programme until they reach key stage 1 (year 1). Then they will move into phase 2. Letters and sounds is a 6 phase programme that enables children to develop their phonological awareness; phase 1 focuses on learning through children’s play using the 7 areas of learning set out in the EYFS.

Here are some of the things that you can do at home, to support reading readiness and develop phonological skills ready for school:

Go for a ‘listening walk’ – when going shopping or sitting in the garden, stop, close your eyes for a few moments and listen. What can you hear? Aeroplanes, a dog barking, a child crying a few gardens away, the sound of a fire engine in the town. Remind your child what ‘good listeners’ do: keep quiet, have ears ready and listen. Talk about the different sounds you can hear. Your child can then draw a picture of what they heard.


Drumming outdoors – find a couple of sturdy sticks, you could use a couple of wooden spoons or some stiff pencils – one for you, and one for your child. Wander around the garden tapping things to listen to what they sound like – try the tree, the leg of the garden table and the chair. Do they sound the same? Or different? Try stoking the tree with the beater – what does that sound like? What about pipes? Plant pots of different sizes?

You could then decide which is your favourite sound – move items around the garden and play a ‘tune’:


Mrs Browning has a box…

Find an old box or bag. Put around half a dozen items in it (a packet of crisps, some keys, a squeaky toy). Put your hand in the box and as you sing the song, pause to let the child try to guess what item is making the sound. You can then both make the sound with your voices.

Sing to the tune of ‘old macDonald had a farm’.


Mrs Browning has a box ee I ee I oh…

And in that box she has a


Pause – gesture and ask your child to listen. Handle one of the objects, out of sight to make a noise. Continue the song but using your voices to make the sound.


With a ‘crackle crackle’ here, and a crackle crackle there…

With a squeak squeak here… with a jingle jingle here…


Allow your child to take a turn and you guess whats in the box.

Sing lots of rhymes and songs. Make up song bags to illustrate your child’s favourite songs. For example, the wheels on the bus (toy bus), plastic duck (five little ducks), plastic frog (five little speckled frogs) and pull them out of the song bag one by one to trigger a singing session.

Have fun with sounds – make up silly sentences with words that all start with the same letter – ping pang poo pop, mig mog mully mo, fo fi fanle fee – imagine what these strange creatures might look like? Draw them…are they aliens or monsters? This is playing with words and alliteration.

Play I spy – this is great for initial sounds and it really doesn’t matter if they get it wrong (h for haeroplane???) your child might find this hard in the early stages because it’s really hard to separate out the first sound. That’s why playing all the other games are so important; don’t be anxious if they can’t hear the initial sound yet – go back and do more games that help to refine hearing and listening skills.


Don’t worry about letters, words and flash cards…these can come later. For now, have fun and develop those listening skills!


Please ask for more information on early reading/phonics if you need it.

Best wishes,


Caroline and Mim

Early Years Team

May 2016

Dear parents and carers,

Welcome to the May edition of our nursery newsletter.

School Readiness

Now is the time for you and your child to start preparing for this milestone in your family’s life. 


Children are learning from the moment they are born, and parents are their child’s first teacher. Your child’s first years of development are a critical time in preparing for their educational experience at school. There is much more to being “ready for school” than being physically healthy and fostering cognitive development; being able to count to 20, or knowing some of the letters of the alphabet.

So what is ‘school readiness’? School readiness is more defined by characteristics such as: listening and asking questions; expressing thoughts and communication with others; thinking before performing actions; being curious and eager to learn; being experienced with books; knowing how to share and take turns and being able to work alone and with others. Being confident to have a go at new things and try again if it doesn’t work out first time.

At nursery we will have helped your child to develop confidence in relating to adults, and in school there will be many new faces and situations for them to manage. You can also help them by encouraging them to relate to less familiar adults, for example, paying for things in a local shop or asking for what they would like in a restaurant or café. Children will have had some experience of this through role play in their nursery but they also need to experience the ‘real thing’.

School will be a much busier environment than nursery and children will settle more easily if they can manage their personal care independently. We have been working towards this with them in Little Learners room where there is always a staff member to support them. However, this is unlikely to be the case in school, so encourage your child to go to the bathroom on their own whilst at friend’s houses and make sure clothing is easy to manage. This is not only relevant to using the toilet but also for changing their clothes for games.

Shoes that they can fasten themselves, bags that they can open easily and being able to put on their coat on their own, will all help your child to be ready for school.


Independence at meal times is also very important. Managing a lunch box or using a knife and fork is very different in a busy school dining hall. During the summer months you could take your child for picnics in the back garden or the local park, using the lunch box and drinks bottle they will take to school. In nursery, your child will be very used to sitting for meals, self-serving their food and using cutlery. If similar routines are continued at home, they will learn this is the accepted way for all meal times. 


Nursery will have encouraged your child to find and use a tissue for their nose, wash their hands, tidy toys and realise they sometimes have to wait for things and take turns. Children will also have been reducing or omitting their day time naps. However, they will become very tired during their first few weeks at school. You can help before they start school by making sure that a clear and enjoyable bedtime routine is in place. In the morning, allows for early starts and enough time for breakfast so that school mornings are calm and not rushed.

Starting school is a very exciting time and during the weeks prior to children leaving nursery, staff will be talking about this transition, using role play opportunities to develop familiarity with ‘big’ school and there may have been arranged visits from reception class teachers and in some cases a visit to the school. You can support this at home by continuing these discussions, possibly taking your child to see the building and playground and by acknowledging they may be feeling a little apprehensive.

Even if they appear enthusiastic about a new uniform, shoes and bag, remember, starting school is new and your child might be scared as well as excited.

It is a milestone in your child’s life and one that will be happy and successful with just a little forethought and preparation. Please do not hesitate to ask us if you have any queries about your child’s next steps. We are always on hand to speak to you about any concerns or questions you may have.


Best wishes,


Caroline Wright

Director of Early Years

April 2016

Dear parents and carers,

It’s been a very busy few months since we took over from Julie and Satnam in September 2015.

We still have things that we want to look at, such as environments and toys/equipment but we have been working on other ‘hidden’ things to provide a better service to you and your children. The nurseries continue to grow in popularity, helped by our highly successful open day events and as a result, the nursery mangers are busy recruiting new staff, with the help of our HR team and Paul, the Regional Operations Manager. Vicky will introduce new staff to you as they appear in the nursery over the coming weeks/months.

The Eduko team is also growing; providing us with the infrastructure we need to offer increased levels of support to our nursery teams in the form of a wide range of training and development activities. Mim Brown, Early Years Regional Manager, will be joining us in May to offer support and challenge to practitioners in the nursery. Paul Picton, Regional Operations Manager, who many of you have already met, offers support to Vicky and Soffie to ensure the smooth running of the nursery on a day to day basis.

Recent changes

Here are some of the activities that have been going on in the background and changes that will be taking place in the nursery in the next few weeks:

New learning journals and two-year-old progress checks are in now in place. These are personalised booklets for each child. Key workers are now called ‘Play Partners’; this better reflects the role they do in supporting your child’s learning and development. We believe it is much more ‘child friendly’ and makes it easy for the child to know which adult is their main support.

Please help us to change the language so that your child knows who his/her play partner is. The last summative assessment will be added to the new booklet and used as a ‘starting point’ to track your child’s progress. This will be completed by the end of the month. Ongoing observations will continue to be added to the learning journal, and summative assessments will take place every 3 months or so, depending on individual children’s needs.

The summative assessments will now be monitored by the room supervisor and also by Vicky. Spot checks of monitoring will be carried out by the EY team (myself and Mim) on an ongoing basis to ensure that they are accurate and used effectively to plan activities that meet your child’s learning and development needs.

Please ask to see your child’s learning journal and feel free to contribute by completing an observation ‘sticker’ at any time. We need your contributions to enable us to build on experiences at home and here in the nursery, so that we can make an accurate assessment when the time comes.

On the back page of the Learning Journal is a tracker. This enables us to compare each assessment and reflect on children’s progress over time.  We can identify gaps in children’s learning and provide activities that will help to close these gaps. We can also see where children have special skills and talents so that we can provide extra challenge to help them to reach their full potential.

Peer-on-peer monitoring will be introduced over the coming months, to enable us to identify areas for personal development in the team. These will be carried out by Vicky, Mim and myself. They will link to personal development plans and training.

Training is being provided for all nursery mangers. This is led by an external consultant and based on materials from Institute of Leadership and Management. The materials are bespoke for us, to reflect the specialist nature of managing a nursery team. This training commenced in February and is taking place over 10 months; it will culminate in a project that will be presented at the nursery manager forum in December.

The summative assessments will now be monitored by the room supervisor and also by Vicky. Spot checks of monitoring will be carried out by the EY team (myself and Mim) on an ongoing basis to ensure that they are accurate and used effectively to plan activities that meet your child’s learning and development needs.

Training for play-partners is also ongoing. Staff have received training in how young children learn. Further training is taking place at the end of the month around Heuristic play and free and found materials. This will be linked to planning and EYFS areas of learning to support staff in their work. Further inset training is planned for September. More details to follow later in the year.


If you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact Vicky for more details. In the event that Vicky is unable to answer your questions satisfactorily, please feel free to contact Paul@edukoltd.com,  Mim@edukoltd.com or me, Caroline@edukoltd.comWe are happy to meet with you in the nursery to provide you with the information you need.


In the meantime, I wish you a lovely weekend in the sunshine with your children – spring has sprung!


Best wishes,


Caroline Wright

Director of Early Years