Our Child and Family Centre staff work hard to ensure all the children and their parents can fulfil their potential. Families are making amazing progress.
After the summer, 25 of our nursery children will start in mainstream school. This is a remarkable achievement for them as when they started at the nursery many of them had additional support needs and were not expected to be ready to start mainstream school with their peers.
Anne explains how they helped children with additional speech and language needs. She says, “We worked alongside the speech and language therapist and community nurse and put their advice into practice. They also gave us activities to carry out alongside the children.
“The children have made significant progress with their learning and development and are now ready to cope with the transition to mainstream school. They have, for example, grown in confidence and can now make their needs known by being able to communicate better.
“One child had very limited vocabulary and staff and children couldn’t understand him so he often got frustrated. Thanks to the speech and language support that we organized for him, his speech has really come on. He can now make himself understood and no longer gets frustrated.”
After school and holiday clubs
We’re now working with a wider age range of children. This allows us to have contact with the children and their families for longer and lets us have more input into their lives. We held a successful holiday club in the October holidays which led to us starting a new after schools club for children in primaries 4-7. And we ran another great holiday in the Eater holidays. This means we’re now working with children aged 0 – 12.
Parents have said of the holiday clubs: “This club has been a life saver for me and my kids love, love, love it.” And “It's been amazing. My girl has had the best time ever."
Top marks from Care Inspectorate
Our nursery has once again received excellent results from the Care Inspectorate following an unannounced visit in October. We were assessed on quality of staffing and quality of management and leadership and received top marks on each. The report said: “We observed children to be happy and engaged in a variety of learning experiences both indoors and in the outdoor area … Children confidently shared their comments about the service.”
Parents were asked to fill in questionnaires by the inspectorate. Their comments included:
“I have nothing but complete praise for this centre, the staff are exceptional and my children have been respected and thoroughly enjoyed their experiences here. The centre is such a happy and welcoming environment for the children and parents.”
“My daughter loves attending and settled really well, all thanks to the wonderful staff who put their heart and soul into the nursery and our children.”
The report concludes: “Staff knew the needs of children and their families very well and were observed to be kind, friendly, caring and supportive in their interactions with children and parents. We saw children happily interacting with their key workers and peers in a variety of child led activities.”
Working with the whole family
We work with the whole family. We want to equip parents with the confidence and skills to parent well, and also with vocational skills.
Parents are encouraged to get involved in the nursery, and in the past year we have had 12 parent helpers involved each term.
They have been involved in activities such as arts and crafts, helping in the kitchen and with outings to places such as the local shops, the dentist and the library.
Roisin, one of our parent helpers, says that she enjoys coming in and helping out in the nursery. It helps her to see what the children do on a day to day basis, and helps her to pick up ideas of activities to do with the children at home. Her son Fionntan also enjoys that she comes to help while he is at nursery.
We have a poem of the month scheme where parents of nursery children are given a poem or nursery rhyme to teach to their children. This enables parents to interact with their children and get involved in their learning.
Our eco group is going well and is helping children and their parents to learn together about recycling, waste reduction and energy saving. One of the parents has offered to come with her work colleagues to prepare the garden area at the Child and Family Centre for planting seeds and bulbs.
Our parent council has six parents regularly attending. The parent council helps decide, for example, day-to-day practicalities, topics for parent courses, where to go for trips, and the group is informed of new developments in education. Parents have taken on a variety of roles, such as the secretary, and have been instrumental in researching for example the price of trips and how to apply for free resources such as seeds for the garden.
We have run seven courses for parents over the past year, with 20 parents attending in total. These have included Cook Confident; English as a Second or Other Language; Pediatric First Aid; and Food Hygiene.
These courses are helping parents to feel more confident in their parenting and learn useful vocational skills. Caroline has taken part in the Cook Confident course and says, “I have learned to cook healthy meals and it’s made me realise I don’t need to take long to prepare a meal.”