Grayrigg CE School - Start Small Think Big

A new nursery for Grayrigg!

At Grayrigg we are incredibly excited to be extending our early years provision to include nursery children from September 2016. We are passionate about working with children at a young age - certainly not to force learning on them but to learn with them, to explore new experiences with friends and develop their natural curiosity.

Why a nursery and why now?

Over the last four years the school has been through what can only be described as a metamorphosis. As the school team has navigated through these changes, we sometimes forget to take the time to stop and reflect on the achievements. Recently, we did just that and realised that in the space of one half term we had been asked to host an outdoor session for other schools, and were visited by teachers from four different schools, who had been recommended by consultants and advisors to visit Grayrigg to see the great things going on in our Early Years provision. In addition to this, we have some excellent opportunities to work with some leading experts.

As a small, rural school it felt right to extend our Early Years provision so more children can benefit from what we offer.

What do we offer?

We are passionate about learning coming from the children, and seizing opportunities. Children will not spend their time sitting at tables working, the environment will be developed to learn through play. Every child is a unique person capable of extraordinary things, to this there are no exceptions and it is what we celebrate here at Grayrigg. One of the things that our parents appreciate most is that we celebrate every individual in an inclusive way. The children won’t be confined to the nursery - they will work alongside reception children and sometimes older children, as the Oaks class have already asked if they can help with the nursery at lunch times and play times. So not only will the children get individualised learning in an engaging environment. They will also get a whole new set of big brothers and sisters. The older children are a wonderful set of role models and always love to help.

We have a GREAT TEAM!

Clare Neal: Is our EYFS leader, working part time and covering our supply teaching, bringing a wealth of experience and more importantly, excitement to the learning in the Acorns class. She is passionate about the Early Years of learning and how the children are little sponges, full of curiosity. One of Clare’s talents is encouraging a natural awe and wonder in the things around us and she loves to provide opportunities that lead to a noisy, fun classroom full of wonderful WOW moments.

Claire Hendrickse: will be the lead teacher and is full time. Claire’s strength is taking learning outside, when she joined the school four years ago she introduced forest school and outdoor adventure across the school. Claire is passionate about children enjoying school, and ensuring they never lose that love.

Kirsty Cooper: As the head teacher and teacher of the Oaks class (the older children), you might think I wouldn’t have much to do with the Early Years, but the truth is I can’t keep away. During my leadership days I am a frequent visitor. I also try to teach with the younger children once a week as I think they keep you on your teacher toes. To me they are the reminder of how childhood really should be. Working with the younger children reminds you how children learn naturally through curiosity - a curiosity we aim to encourage and develop at Grayrigg, so that children become excited and resilient learners, ready for whatever adventure life will throw at them. I believe opening our nursery will not only be a great experience for the children who attend, I think it will be great for the whole school.

New position: We will also be advertising for a new member of staff to support learning through play in the nursery, to facilitate child led learning and ensure no opportunity is missed, but also to give them that hug when they need it, to support them if they’re worried and to encourage them when they need it - holding their hand in those moments when they need a hand to hold.

The Environment

Outside: If you know our school, I’m sure you will have heard about our stunning new outdoor development. We discovered the company COOL CANVAS, through leading EYFS expert Alistair Bryce-Clegg. The development is still new but is proving to be everything we dreamed of. A limitless play environment, with texture kitchen, workshop, climb in sand pit, log pile (climbing structure), water wall play and pulley. Everything is open ended so children never get bored. The best way to share this with you is through pictures so do have a look at our image gallery, facebook and twitter pages to see some of the things we get up to.

In addition to the outdoor play environment, the school also benefits from spacious grounds with a playground and field which are used regularly for learning. In fact, most of the children in the school have learnt to ride their bikes on the large flat school playground. The sloped field area offers great opportunities including old favourites such as sledging and rolling down the hill.

Inside: As part of the nursery development the Acorn environment is being extended over two rooms, one room where the year 1 and 2 children will spend much of their time, will be a quieter room and will include spaces for any tired nursery children to have snooze.

The second larger room will be set up for learning through play with continuous access to the outdoor classroom. The carpets are going and new non slip, wood effect floors will be going down to ensure no learning is limited by the environment - there will be no cries of “don’t spill that on the floor”. Instead of a carpet area there will be various textures of rugs which can be moved to different areas of the room, depending on what is happening. An archway will lead to a world of imagination where anything is possible in the de-constructed role play area. The creative area will have open access to cutting, sticking, and painting. Indoor water will work on different levels along with sand. Children will have access to a self-service dough area where they can make their own salt dough. The core aim of the environment will be to create “limitless” play opportunities, within all the areas of play and learning you would expect to see in an early years setting.

Bread: Through making their own dough and baking bread, children develop not only independence, but also develop the muscles in their arms, hands, and fingers that later feed into making writing easier and more comfortable. I’m sure you can all relate to that moment when your hand or wrist aches from writing. Children in our nursery will make fresh bread/soup (supervised) as part of their daily routine. They will do the kneading and the mixing at a specially adapted standing height station before popping it into the bread maker. This will develop the muscles from the shoulders to the finger ends that will help them develop an accurate and comfortable pencil grip.

We have the right team, the right environment - all we need now are the children to share it with. To arrange a visit or join us for a stay and play session, contact the school office. Stay and play sessions are available every Tuesday from 14th June 2016.