Raising Our Game

We continually look for ways to improve what we do, by listening to feedback and reflecting on our work. We’re aiming for ‘Outstanding’ at our next Ofsted inspection and looking to secure the Early Years Quality Mark.

We welcome feedback from parents, carers, staff and the children we care for. We use it to shape our investment in staff, premises and resources, leading to better outcomes for the children and families in our community.

There is a suggestion box just inside the entrance to the pre-school. Please share your ideas or feedback - good or bad!

All staff take part in an annual appraisal. These discussions lead to an action plan for the year ahead. This is a living document which we pin to the wall and scribble on as we develop and refine our ideas.

Some of the changes and improvements we have made are listed below.

September 2016 - New Book Boxes and Resources

We have installed new low-level book boxes, which are easier for children to access. This is a particular improvement for the younger children in our setting, who can more easily browse the selection. We have also added some wooden “dolls house” toys, which are proving very popular

August 2016 - New WiFi Routers and Tablets

Now that we are using the Tapestry online learning journal, it’s important to have reliable wifi throughout the pre-school. We have installed two new Mikrotik wifi access points giving full coverage and allowing all devices to be online simultaneously. To complement this, we have also purchased three Kindle Fire tablets which will be used to record observations.

June 2016 - Laptops for Staff

As we’ve moved towards using electronic learning journals, having just one laptop between eight staff was unsustainable. Each member of staff now has their own laptop for recording observations, writing reports, accessing training and conducting research.

May 2016 - Improvements to Lunchtime routine

We’ve implemented a number of changes to the lunchtime routine to make it more relaxed. Simple changes, such as having paper towels and a waste bowl at each table mean staff can remain seated at the tables with children - less moving around and less need to call across the room. Quieter and calmer means it’s more enjoyable for the children and has resulted in a marked improvement in behaviour.

February 2016 - New Playground

After much planning our playground has been comprehensively refurbished, with a climbing frame to challenge all ages, a super-sized sandpit, mud kitchen and water-play equipment

September 2015 - New staff and apprentice

As the new academic year starts, we have recruited a new apprentice, Jodi Cast who will be working with us across every session while studying for a Level-2 qualification. We also welcome Chloe Rich to work with us in the afternoons. Chloe has a Level-3 qualification and joins us on a one-year temporary contract. The changes help us to bring increased consistency to the afternoon staffing, further strengthening bonds between staff and children.

August 2015 - Door Finger Guards installed

To minimise the risk of injuries from fingers being trapped in doors, we have fitted Finger Wizard hinge guards to doors at the pre-school. We’ve thankfully not suffered any such injuries in the past, but identified the potential for injury as part of our annual risk assessment review.

August 2015 - Washing Machine Installed

We have installed a washer/dryer at the pre-school, kindly donated by one of our trustees, Barbara Maggs. The washing machine will allow us to clean towels, dressing-up costumes and uniforms without depending on parents and staff to take laundry home.

August 2015 - Back Room and lobby decorated

The back play room and the front lobby have been decorated, so that they are fresh for the start of the new academic year. Next on the list: hallway, kitchen, toilets and office… Can you help?

April 2015 - 5-Star Food Hygiene Score Awarded

Following an unannounced inspection by the London Borough of Lewisham, we were awarded a Food Hygiene Rating of 5 (Very Good). This is an improvement on our previous score thanks to changes made by parents and carers in the way packed lunches are prepared, avoiding high-risk foods and including ice packs to keep things cool. Our Welcome Packs now includes advice and guidance on this.

December 2014 - Dishwasher purchased

We have purchased a dishwasher which has been installed in kitchen, allowing staff to spend more time with the children and less time washing the cups and plates!

November 2014 - Yard lights replaced

As the nights are drawing in, it’s getting dark by the end of our afternoon sessions. The faulty lighting in the back yard and alleyway have been replaced by modern LED floodlights, controlled by a light and movemement sensor. This will make it easier to see while tidying away and improve security at the pre-school.

October 2014 - Boiler Service

AC Wilgar have done a fine job of servicing our boiler. After our first appointment was delayed and subsequently cancelled (not good) they completed the service for free as a donation to our charity (fantastic!). Professional, dependable service as we have come to expect. Thank you Steve Gill! Thoroughly recommended.

October 2014 - Coffee Morning

A big thank you to all parents and carers who joined together for our first coffee morning of the school year. Especially big thanks to those who helped run the event and bake cakes for us to eat - parents Maria, Marzena and Rodrigo we couldn’t have run the event without you!

September 2014 - Outdoor Area

Staff and trustees have worked to begin improvements to the pre-school’s outdoor space. A superb mural has been created of a tree and a large caterpillar. Play bark has been layed beneath the bench, covering what was formerly dry baked mud. This provides added colour, texture and interest for the children. With the help of parents, we hope to continue this development, perhaps with further mural painting or building a sandpit.

September 2014 - Now open four afternoons per week

To cater for increased demand for places and to make better use of our facilities, we are now open Monday-Thursday afternoons during term time, in adddition to our usual Monday-Friday morning sessions.

September 2014 - Lockers for Staff

We have invested in a set of lockers for so that staff can safely store their bags and personal belongings while at work. Previously they were being left on the floor or crammed into a single small locker in the kitchen, which was identified as a risk to safety and security.

August 2014 - New lease in place

After nearly two years of negotiation and bureaucracy, we now have a new five-year protected tenancy lease in place. The new lease gives us sole occupancy of the pre-school premises and the ability to hire rooms out for other events and functions, allowing us to develop the pre-school as a community resource. Unfortunately there is a significant increase in the rent we have to pay, but we have allowed for this in our budgeting.

July 2014 - Pre-school Farm Outing

We packed a coach and several private cars for a pre-school trip to Godstone Farm for our summer outing.

May 2014 - New member of staff - Emma Turay

Emma has joined us on a temporary contract to provide cover while Louretta is absent. Emma is well qualified and has experience of working in a number of early years settings. She has quickly become part of our pre-school team and is forming good bonds with our children.

March 2014 - New member of staff - Sandra Meloni

Sandra has joined us to assist during the busy lunchtime period and during our increasingly popular afternoon sessions. She has been a parent volunteer with us for many years, all of her children having attended our setting. Sandra will be studying for a Level-2 early years qualification.

February 2014 - New Committee Member

Chrissy Davison, Madison’s mum has joined our trustees committee, who oversee the administration of the pre-school. She takes over from Loretta Perry who has now moved to New Zealand!

February 2014 - New member of staff - Sarah Crow

Sarah Crow has joined us to provide maternity cover for Leah. She is highly qualified to foundation degree level and is familiar with our pre-school, having previously covered Eve’s study leave.

January 2014 - New changing table

New changing table from Community Playthings purchased and installed. It arrived in an enormous cardboard box which has inspired numerous creative activities as the children transform it into a castle!

January 2014 - Job Descriptions reviewed and updated for all staff

Over time roles and responsibilities within our pre-school evolve and skills develop. During the past few months we have reviewed and refreshed all staff job descriptions. We recognise that the quality of our provision depends on all members of staff having a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Accurate job descriptions help to communicate this and complement regular appraisals. This in turn helps ensure that training needs are identified and met. (See the EYFS Statutory Framework 2012, section 3.18.)

January 2014 - New sign on front door

A smart new sign has been installed on the front door of the pre-school, showing up-to-date opening hours, logo and contact details. It highlights that we are able to offer free sessions for all children from the age of 3 and some eligible 2-year-olds. The sign was designed using the free graphics editor Inkscape and manufactured for us by TTC Signs. We hope you like it!

December 2013 - Annual fire extinguisher service completed

All fire extinguishers were inspected and found to be in good order by Delta Fire Systems.

November 2013 - Subscription to Nursery World Magazine

We have subscribed to Nursery World magazine to help staff to keep up-to-date with developments and best practice in early years work and to provide additional resources for activities within our setting. The subscription includes a monthly printed magazine and online access to a wealth of articles on early years matters.

November 2013 - Recruitment of new apprentice

We have recruited a second apprentice, Alex Mwanza. This will improve staff ratios, allowing more small-group working with children and providing more opportunity for staff to engage in training, professional development, planning and observations. Our July 2013 parent survey showed that parents wished for us to recruit a male member of staff, to provide a male role model, something which remains rare in early years education. We apply a policy of equal opportunites in all that we do, but are pleased that we have been able to address this feedback.

November 2013 - Improving Observation and Recording of Child Development

We have identified the need to improve our observation and recording of child development. All staff have been provided with further training on observations by LEARN. We have recognised the need to implement cohort tracking across different groupings, in addition to the existing development tracking of individual children. We are evaluating the Tapestry software system to improve the way we gather observations, the way we share them with parents/carers and to allow us to quickly recognise and address any gaps or weaknesses in our observtions, planning or practice.

November 2013 - Improved lighting at the front of the building

Now that we are open afternoons and the winter evenings are drawing in, it will be dark when staff leave the pre-school. This issue was identified as part of our insurance risk assessment in September 2013. We have replaced the faulty lighting by the pre-school’s front door with improved LED lighting. At the same time, Lewisham Council have installed improved street lighting outside, which will be connected shortly.

October 2013 - Strengthening key-worker bonds

We operate a Key Person System to champion the individual needs of each child in our care, however children can play and work in different groups depending on their interests and the different activities planned each day. As a small setting, with consistent staffing, children benefit by forming bonds with each of the staff, however we identified a need to increase the time spent as a key-worker group. Each child now sits with their key-worker at lunch time, providing an extra opportunity to interact, form relationships and share information.

October 2013 - Encouraging independence at lunch time

We reviewed the way lunch was organised and realised that we could offer more opportunities for independence by the children. Rather than serving children with drinks, we now encourage them to fetch and pour their own drink and to assist with the preparation and clearing away.

October 2013 - Improved access to outdoor space and coats for staff

Spending time outdoors is an important part of each day at Newstead Road Pre-School, but until now we have not had the outdoor space open at the start of the day. We have trialled, with great success, opening our outdoor space from the beginning, so that children can choose to leave their coats on and begin play outside from the beginning of the session. We find this is very popular with the children, who are able to move to the indoor activites at a time of their choosing. This has improved learning outcomes, children’s wellbeing and behaviour throughout the session. Staff have reported that their existing uniform fleeces are old, worn and not sufficiently warm. They have chosen smart new outdoor coats which have been purchased for them to wear.

October 2013 - Computers and Technology

We use computers to support many Early Years learning goals, both as part of Understanding The World and in relation to other areas of learning. We have a range of software programs available, however we identified that some children were ready for more challenges, while our younger children would benefit from something aimed more specifically at them. As a result, we have purchased Rizbi and Gigglebies Super Sports Day. Debbie Griffin reports of the Rizbi disk: “This disc is ideal for the very young children and those that have difficulty learning how to use the mouse (one of my keychildren who previously has had trouble using the mouse really enjoyed being on the computer today for an exceptionally long time). So it works :)”. We also recognised that tablet computers are a part of today’s world and that there are a variety of apps available relevant to early years work. Consequently we have purchased an Android tablet computer for the children to use.

September 2013 - Better provision for our wider age range and use of space

Historically our pre-school has not accepted children younger than 2.5 years old. In September 2012 we began accepting children from the age of 2. Now having had a full year of experience with younger children in our setting, we have been able to reflect on our performance. In the past we have worked with a ratio of 4 staff to 24 children. Given the design of our building, we were only able to have one of our play rooms open at any one time. This limited the space available for activities and at times it proved challenging to provide a sufficient range or challenges from the earliest to the most advanced stages of development. From September 2013 we have expanded our morning sessions to have 6 staff and 30 children. We have extended the temporary contract of Louretta Boyode and recruited a new apprentice Sarah Wyatt. This allows us to operate free-flow between both rooms and outdoors, addressing an Ofsted concern that we were not making full use of our space and with the extra space, provide a wider range of activities.

September 2013 - Purchase of Steps

As part of our insurance risk assessment reviewed in September 2013, we identified that staff were using chairs to reach high shelves and put up displays. In consultation with Debbie Griffin, our health and safety officer, we have purchased some portable steps.

September 2013 - Temperature Regulation of Hot Water

As part of our insurance risk assessment reviewed in September 2013, we identified that the hot water tap in the back room and the kitchen were not thermostatically controlled like the other taps. As a result they had the potential to cause scalding. We have installed thermostatic controls for both taps and tested the temperature regulation for the other sinks.

September 2013 - Interest Table

We have introduced an interest table giving the children new things to explore that link with the themes being planned for each half term. Staff members will take turns to be responsible for the interest table, with a different person taking the role every half term. Our first table included items from the natural world, a highlight of which was a real blackbird’s nest.

August 2013 - Policies Reviewed and published online

We reviewed our folder of policies and procedures, removing those deemed unnecessary and revising others to reflect changing requirements, guidance and legislation. To make them more accessible, we have published them online for the first time, while keeping a printed copy at the pre-school for inspection. All staff are required to be familiar with the policies. To ensure that changes are communicated to all staff, we have added a document control sheet to each policy, which each staff member signs to confirm that they have read and understood the updated versions.

August 2013 - Rearrangement of Room to reflect children’s interests

We have noticed that our home corner is proving very popular, yet was cramped in the room layout. We have reconfigured the room to reflect the interests of our children, by relocating and expanding the home corner. This rearrangement has also allowed us to move the reading area to a more peaceful part of the room and it has been equipped with a new rug and cushions for the children to sit on.

July 2013 - Parents help with redecoration

Our parents survey and staff discussions highlighted a need to redecorate the pre-school. A group of parents volunteered and worked together with some of the staff to redecorate the main play room during the summer break. Staff visited other early years environments to consider which colours to use, giving consideration to the needs of children on the autistic spectrum. The resulting decoration has been well-received and as a by-product relationships between the parents and staff involved have been strengthened.

July 2013 - Purchase of new Fridge/Freezer

Our regular checks identified that the old fridge was not achieving a sufficiently low temperature for the safe storage of food. It did not have a freezer compartment. Discussion with staff identified that having a freezer on site would allow more creative activity planning involving ice, such as exploring hot and cold and mixing colours. We have purchased and installed a new fridge/freezer unit.

June 2013 - Dad’s Breakfast

The majority of children attending our pre-school are brought and collected by mums or female carers. We’re aware of the need to involve dads and male carers in the work of the setting, the development of their children and the importance of opportunities for them to to interact and share experiences. We introduced a dad’s breakfast, for them to attend with their children before the start of the main pre-school session. This was well attended and the feedback we received was excellent.

June 2013 - Supervision Training

We have identified a need to improve our staff supervision and appraisal meetings, which are important to ensure that we are doing the best we can for the children in our care. Our manager, Pat McGowan and deputy, Eve Ratcliff attended a course on supervision provided by Influential Child Care Training.

June 2013 - Letterbox installed

It might seem obvious or trivial, but until now, the pre-school has not had a letterbox. During term-time this means sessions were disturbed opening the door for the postman and during holidays and weekends, post was missed. We now have a very smart and useful letterbox in the front door. In many ways this marked a turning point in our ability and confidence to recongise where changes are required and to work together in implementing them. For this writer at least, it is very symbolic!

May 2013 - Parents Evening

In addition to the regular informal contact and discussions between parents and staff, we identified a need for a more formal opportunity to meet and talk with parents and carers. In the 2013 summer term, we introduced a parents evening inviting every family to vist the pre-school for an individual disussion with their child’s key worker. The event received incredibly positive feedback from staff and families. As a result, we will now be holding a parents evening once every term.

April 2013 - Afternoon Opening

With morning sessions running at near full capacity, we were facing a shortage of places as children were turning three and gaining elibigility for 15 hours funded early years education. We consulted with parents and staff, deciding to open for three 1300-1600 afternoon sessions every week. Two additional temporary staff members were recruited to facilitate this, while our deputy manager Eve Ratcliff was put in charge of the afternoon sessions, giving her more opportunity to put her training and degree studies into pratice.

March 2013 - Installation of Broadband Internet

We have installed broadband internet at the pre-school. This provides access to resources to develop and help with the activities we plan for children in our sessions. It allows access to Ofsted’s online services and faster completion of Disclosure and Barring Service checks. It permits more effective communication between staff, committee, suppliers and agencies. For professional development it gives staff access to a range of online courses. It opens the way for us to explore online planning, assessment and observation tools.

Newstead Road Pre-School, 6 Birch Grove, Lee, London, SE12 0SU.
Telephone: 020 8857 9500