Alfreton Nursery in Derbyshire achieves the national award for Inclusion.
Sharing and Extending Inclusivity
Alfreton is a Local Authority Nursery School and National Teaching School. One hundred children attend part–time sessions of 3 hours per day with many accessing additional sessions with Early Years’ Pupil Premium Funding. The nursery school is part of a close-knit community that once was a mining town. Within the area there are high levels of unemployment and significant family needs. The nursery is an essential part of the local area that provides much needed emotional and practical support. This was their first IQM assessment and one which was driven by a deep-rooted desire to share and extend their inclusivity whilst being able to reflect and build on current practice.
Futures are Created Here
My first impression of the Nursery School came from a quote on their website; ‘the best way to predict your future is to create it’. This certainly resonated with me in terms of how vital the nursery school was both in the community and for each individual child. Having carried out the assessment visit, it is clear that futures are indeed created here. Alfreton Nursery is the first step in a child’s educational journey and one which the parents described as ‘the best possible starting place for making every day experiences relevant. Alfreton Nursery is brilliant, full stop!’
Sources of Evidence
I certainly concur with that! The assessment day was a privilege and a pleasure to carry out. During the day, I was fully immersed in Nursery life and met with:-
• Head Teacher, Angela Stanton.
• Members of the Senior Leadership Team.
• Teaching and support staff.
• School Governors.
A Sincere and Genuine Warm Welcome
The school site hosts extensive outdoor provision and that includes teaching areas, a forest school, natural play area, solar dome, rotunda, allotment, orchard and pond. This formed a large part of the assessment with the emphasis very much being on outdoor learning here. The internal environment is just as valued and from the moment you enter the building, there is a warm welcome that is sincere and genuine as I experienced first-hand throughout my visit. I was invited to access all parts of the school including:-
• School office and staffroom.
• All continuous provision areas.
• The ‘enchanted forest’ (Aspiration Group).
• The Magic Room (Sensory Room).
An Inclusive Ethos
The school makes excellent use of the extensive grounds and are constantly looking at how to make these outstanding facilities more accessible to the wider community. The IQM Self Evaluation Report (SER) submitted by the school is extremely comprehensive and gives an accurate description of the truly inclusive ethos evident throughout the nursery school and how, despite their already high profile within the authority as a leader of the teaching alliance, they are very much outward facing and looking for ways to build on the outstanding work that is already in place here.
Curiosity and Excitement is Tangible
The Nursery School has a picture of a tree that illustrates their vision; nurturing creative thinkers, developing opportunities for all learners, building relationships and fostering a climate of mutual respect. However, it is fair to say that from being a part of the nursery, this image is much more than a picture on a wall. It is living, breathing and growing here at Alfreton. There is a sense of awe and wonder from the moment you enter the building and the curiosity and excitement is tangible. The children have a wealth of opportunities; learning never stops and the nursery school makes the children’s imagination come alive!
A Bespoke Atmosphere
The woodland theme that is prevalent throughout creates a bespoke atmosphere. You enter a living fairytale. I started the day in the enchanted forest, explored the magic room and visited Granny Greenwood’s Garden! For the children who come here, there is a maze of excitement, no turn leads to a dead end but instead, an opportunity for bigger and better adventures in their learning. Governors and staff described the nursery school as ‘limitless’. This is evident both in the vision of the head and staff; nothing is impossible but also in the fact that no ceiling is placed on the children’s learning. Every day they have the opportunity to come back and begin a whole new adventure!
Committed to Inclusion at Every Level
The school has a passionate headteacher, and well-established staff and governing body. The headteacher has worked there for 28 years with her dedication to service having been honoured by the council. The team described themselves as ‘vintage’. There is sheer quality in the staff and their expertise. They are all, whole-heartedly, committed to inclusion at every level. The school prides itself on being a leader of education, leading 17 schools within their teaching alliance. Their support is far reaching but at the heart of it all is a strong inclusive ethos that underpins all they do.
Outstanding Practice in Place
The evidence presented to me during my visit to the school and information contained within the Self Evaluation Report clearly demonstrates the outstanding practice in place within the school and the on-going commitment to Inclusion. The school is looking at continuing its journey through applying for Centre of Excellence Status but has not set specific goals. They do not see inclusion as a target to achieve, moreover it is a journey that will be sustained and an ethos that will grow into new and exciting opportunities.
“It takes someone special to work at Alfreton Nursery”
I would once again like to pass on my sincere thanks to all the staff, governors and parents who gave their time to speak to me and for making the whole day thoroughly enjoyable. On leaving I saw a plaque which said, ‘it takes someone special to work at Alfreton Nursery’. Everyone who is part of that team understand the true meaning of this and should be proud of the wonderful, inclusive environment they have and will continue to create for the children.
Find out more about the IQM Inclusive School Award
If your school is interested in obtaining the IQM Inclusive School Award or you wish to talk to a member of the IQM team please telephone:
028 7127 7857 (9.00 am to 5.00 pm)
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
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