Seedlings Nursery in Doncaster has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Passionate and Caring
Staff at Seedlings have a passion for the work they do and understand the significance of the care provided. One staff member states:
“What we offer is ‘a lifeline for parents. We open a new door to somewhere that is safe. We are advocates for our children. We provide a positive experience, which is uplifting for parents, providing them with hope!”
This specialist provision caters for children from 2-5 yrs of age with social communication needs or who may be on a pathway to the diagnosis of autism. It is based in the central locality of Doncaster Borough. It is Ofsted registered for 10 children. Seedlings’ Ofsted inspection was graded as Outstanding in a previous building. Since its move to other premises in 2018, another Ofsted inspection will be due to take place.
Very Happy Parents
Mandy Haddock the Early Inclusion officer enthusiastically leads the specialist team of Area SENDCO and SEND Officers. Parents comment on the excellent work that she leads, and they feel that she endeavours to go beyond expectations for the benefit of the children. In addition to the work in Seedlings, there are other roles undertaken which include a key working service, outreach and a sleep practitioner to support families. A formal request needs to be completed by key professionals to enable consideration to be given to accessing the facilities.
The Importance of Early Intervention
The Setting is housed within Maple Medical PRU which caters for a range of needs including Teenage mums, KS2/3 Autistic Children and those children with specific medical and mental health needs. Maple Medical PRU also have their own Nursery and have a classroom based at the local hospital. The Head speaks positively about Seedlings being based on site and the developing collaboration between the two Settings. Each manager recognises the significance and importance of early intervention and parental engagement.
Fostering Opportunities for Learning
Time has clearly been taken to build on children’s interests by ensuring activities were available which would engage and foster opportunities for learning.
The Environment is Conducive to Children’s Learning
It is apparent that staff work as team. On arrival, staff are hard at work ensuring resources are readily available and activities organised ready for the children. Positive communication between staff enables each to set up areas which are conducive to children’s learning. Risk assessments in the outdoor area are quickly undertaken.
Parents are Readily Welcomed
Parents are readily welcome when bringing their child into the room. Immediately, the children are supported as they transition to areas of the room in which they are interested. Staff begin to note interests and make observations as the children enter and engage. It is clear that the staff are making notes of the children’s interests in order that they can respond and incorporate these into the child’s learning plans.
The Outdoor Learning Environment
Outdoors, the children have access to a hard play area and a grassed area with a large tree in one corner. Plans are in place to develop this further, but this has been delayed due to contractors and will be developed over the next term. Already, staff have discussed how aspects of Forest schooling can be integrated into the outdoor environment.
The Indoor Learning Environment
The indoor environment has been well-planned, there are useful displays which set out the routines of the day for staff and parents, health and safety and registration documents are posted on the walls. There is a Sensory room available for use in which there is access to cushions, lighting, torches etc which engage the children and foster concentration and exploration. This provides a safe haven and opportunity for children to be calm and quiet if needed.
Books can be Accessed Independently
Books are available for children and these are at children’s level enabling them to access these independently. Well-considered areas are available in which children can work including the water tray, access to musical instruments, a collection of animals of different sizes, sorting activities, light boxes. Alongside the resources well-informed staff interact and foster use of some key vocabulary.
Families Feel Extremely Supported
Practitioners at Seedlings engage with families on a regular basis. Families feel extremely supported by the team. One practitioner describes the strengths of the Setting as being inclusive, incorporating bespoke practice, working well with parents, involving professionals and comments on the importance of taking a holistic approach.
Baseline Assessments are Undertaken
The practitioner explains that the Assessment, Plan, Do and Review meeting is held when a child starts. Baseline assessments are undertaken to determine a starting point from which to work. From this, a Person-Centred Plan is formalised to include information from parents, e.g. contact details, other professionals and agencies involved, impacting on the education, care and the life of the child and family.
A Personalised Learning Plan
The final stage at the Setting is to produce a Personalised Learning Plan in which there are recorded, identified areas of need, parents’ aspirations and long-term desired learning outcomes. Short term outcomes are identified in order that these can be tracked and reviewed prior to the next major review. This includes the progress that the team would like to see.
Staff clearly identify what they want the child to do, what children need to do to demonstrate progress and when by. They also clearly specify what the practitioner will do and the resources they will use to achieve this.
Risk Assessments are Completed
Risk assessments are completed to ensure safety needs are addressed and well-considered.
Parents Speak Highly of the Tailored Provision
Parents speak highly of the staff at the Setting and their endeavours to tailor provision to support their children. All those interviewed praised the staff for taking the time to get to know the child and for supporting them in their understanding of the children’s needs. The use of Makaton to enable effective communication was acknowledged as being a valuable tool and more than one parent explained how the signing had helped them to communicate with their child. Parents would like their child to access more hours at the Setting as they see the demonstrable benefits of the time in the Setting and feel that the children are unable to access their full entitlement. They all agree though that practice is excellent and that both the children and themselves have learned so much! It will be good practice to further build on these links with parents. Identify their specific strengths and use these to value their skills and knowledge which could be nurtured to support the children.
Assessment and Tracking
The children’s progress is regularly shared in meetings but also via a Setting app. The Setting is now using Tapestry for capturing observations of children’s learning. These observations are linked to the EYFS. Staff can explain the assessment process and how the children’s records are compiled. They are knowledgeable about the EYFS and characteristics of effective learning. There is evidence of a Learning and Progress Tracker in place within one child’s file showing if the child is emerging, developing or secure. Parents indicate that progress meetings are helpful, and they can ask questions if they are unsure about anything; staff will always clarify or simplify terms if needed. This is valued. Communication is positive, staff are friendly and welcoming and take the time to sit with a parent on both an informal and formal basis to ensure all aspects of development are addressed.
Staff Skills and Qualities Should be Celebrated
The skills and qualities of the staff should be celebrated, through observation of their practice it is clear that staff get down to the children’s level and are proactive in engaging with the children, scaffolding their learning and use of language. Good behaviours and routines are fostered. A visual timetable and visual register are used to enable children to more clearly understanding expectations and what comes next in the day. Staff ensure that children comply with expectations though fostering turn taking and requiring each of them to carry out requests for example returning objects/props to the basket that have been used in the adult-led activity.
Staff are Very Approachable
Parents share that they feel that staff are honest with them, that they can approach them at any time. One staff member had maintained contact with a child over the summer break to help maintain the child’s focus and support the family to meet the child’s needs. This clearly had beneficial effects for the child. Parents also valued the advice that staff had offered in addition to staff relaying the child’s achievements to the parents. Guidance has been shared about effecting good sleep routines, potty routines, ways of supporting the children’s speech etc.
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.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.