From the earliest stages of contact with families, we endeavour to create opportunities for parents, children, staff and carers from previous settings to meet prior to children beginning their journeys at St. Michael’s.
Nursery and Reception staff conduct home and setting visits, taking with them a laminated picture card identifying staff and areas around the school, to leave with each child and their pre-school.
Parents are invited to maths and phonics workshops, alongside a ‘Welcome to Foundation Stage’ evening when they have opportunities to meet all of the staff and other parents, and gain an understanding of our ethos and practice. Children are invited to informal ‘Stay and Play’ sessions with either their parents or a key worker prior to them attending two familiarisation visits themselves.
We enjoy learning more about our children’s lives outside of school and therefore encourage parents to share special moments via ‘WOW’ forms. We also encourage parents to add any special news in their home learning books alongside a list of suggested fun activities.
Our youngest children feel at home in our happy, bright and colourful Nursery, which is an integral part of the school and provides the best possible start for children as they enter school. Our well qualified, experienced and caring staff will quickly build a close relationship with you and your young child to ensure that he or she will soon feel special, secure and confident as they begin their educational journey in school.
Play underpins all development and learning for young children. Children learn happily through a carefully blended mixture of child-initiated and teacher-directed activities, both inside and outside the classroom, developing their knowledge and skills, building the foundations for their future learning. From a thorough knowledge of each child’s understanding and progress, the Nursery teacher and two Nursery Nurses support the children to learn with enjoyment and challenge and guide the children to the next stage of experience or learning as and when they are ready to move on.
Specialist teaching in French, Music and Physical Education complement other learning activities providing an extra stimulus for the children’s language, creative and physical development.
Children start Nursery in the September after their third birthday attending for a minimum of five sessions a week, these can be a combination of full days and morning sessions. The morning sessions are from 8:30 am – 11:55 am, whilst a full day finishes at 3pm. However, once your child is ready he or she may increase the number of sessions. Other individual options for afternoon sessions are available on request.
Nursery children enjoy being part of the main school and particularly welcome joining everyone in a whole school assembly each week. Older siblings take great pride in seeing their younger brothers and sisters join in the stories, songs and prayers.
By the time children leave Nursery, they are fully prepared to embark on the next phase of their learning journey in Reception with confidence and enthusiasm.
The Reception base is a busy place at St. Michael’s and is a hive of constant activity where the children are actively engaged in enthusiastic learning.
Building on all that they have learnt during their time in Nursery, children make excellent progress in Reception across all aspects of their learning and development and achieve well above the national average by the end of the year. Children who have not been through Nursery at St. Michael’s may start in Reception in the September after their fourth birthday.
Classes are kept to a maximum of 20 children with a full-time teacher and Nursery Nurse for each class. As in Nursery, a close working relationship between the children and the staff ensures that the children are able to discover and learn with confidence in a happy and attractive environment.
A large emphasis is placed on the development of phonic and number understanding. Daily activities reinforce letter and sound recognition which thoroughly prepare the children as they begin to read and write. Practical activities rooted in everyday life help to establish and reinforce language and mathematical understanding and encourage the development of problem-solving skills at this young age.
In addition to classroom-based activities and specialist teaching for Music, French and PE good use is made of outdoor learning spaces within the school grounds to stimulate the children’s imagination and to extend their learning experience.
All Reception children attend for the whole day from 8:30 am – 3:15 pm.
Children in Nursery and Reception follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. This covers the following seven areas of learning and development which are important and inter-connected.
Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and to thrive.
The three prime areas are:
- Physical Development; and
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
The specific areas are:
Understanding the World, and
Expressive Arts and Design.
These seven key areas are at the core of the children’s learning within the Nursery and Reception and form the foundations upon which the children will build as they move up to Form 1 and further up the school.
Through the provision of child-led activities every day, children within our Foundation Stage are encouraged to ‘have a go’ and feel secure in taking chances to try something new, even if they may not initially succeed.
The needs of the children are met by a strong team of staff who know all of the children very well and regularly observe children’s interests and interactions. As a result, the staff are aware of the needs of each individual and see the best way of supporting them whilst extending their knowledge and learning.