The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector.
Description of the school
The school draws children from an area of mixed socio-economic circumstances. Almost all children are of White British heritage and speak English at home. There is a higher than average proportion of children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The Children's Centre that shares the school's premises was registered as integral to the Nursery school in April 2007. The Children's Centre was not part of the inspection.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This outstanding school provides young children with an early education of the highest quality. A daily diet of exhilarating activities gives children a first-rate start in securing their future success and well-being. A key feature of the provision is that adults offer children enough time to explore, investigate and solve problems for themselves. High quality teaching helps children of all abilities to become increasingly independent and confident learners. Parents are fulsome in their praise of the school and typically comment on, 'the exceptional standards of teaching, safety and care' that their children enjoy. First-rate leadership by the headteacher, deputy headteacher and governors relentlessly improves practice and embraces new initiatives. Senior leaders closely monitor the school's performance and track children's academic progress and personal development. Nonetheless, the assessments of children's language and social skills when they join the school are more comprehensive than for other areas of learning. These provide more detailed starting points against which to measure the development of children's social and language skills. The school has moved on rapidly in recent years despite having had no key areas to improve in its last inspection. The leadership's clear focus on maintaining exemplary practice demonstrates that there is outstanding capacity for further improvement.
All the adults pay the closest attention to children's emotional and physical well-being. There is exemplary pastoral support and guidance for children. As a result, children are relaxed and happy. They concentrate very well so their achievement is excellent. Children join the school with skills below those typical for their age with the exception of their personal and social skills which are slightly stronger. Consistently, first class interventions and high quality teaching and learning enable children to develop creative, physical and social skills, and knowledge and understanding of the world at levels above those expected for nursery age children by the time they enter the Reception class. More able children progress equally well. Children's behaviour, attitudes and response to adults' consistently high expectations are exemplary. They confirm that they really like school. Children know that fruit, vegetables, milk and water are good for them. They increasingly know how to lead healthy and safe lifestyles and they put this knowledge into practice every day. Parents typically say, 'I can't praise the Nursery enough for making my child's first experience of school such an enjoyable one.' The enticing curriculum offers a multitude of exciting and enjoyable activities and many opportunities to take responsibility within the Nursery. Children embrace these and persevere very well with tasks until they are completed. Highly effective administrative support and ancillary staff create a bright, clean and stimulating learning environment and enable the school to run very smoothly.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
As a nursery school, the Foundation Stage is completely covered by the Overall Effectiveness section.
What the school should do to improve further
- Further refine the assessment of children's skills when they join the Nursery to cover all the areas of learning.
Achievement and standards
Children achieve exceptionally well from starting points that are usually below those typical for their age, particularly in relation to their skills in language, mathematics, and knowledge and understanding of the world. Staff place a strong emphasis on the early development of children's personal, social, language and mathematical skills. This helps children to make rapid progress and prepares them well for future success. By the time they leave the Nursery, many children attain skills beyond the levels expected for their age in their creative, physical and social learning as well as their knowledge and understanding of the world. Children's language and number skills are not as strong, but they make equally impressive gains in these areas. Some more able children reach a few of the goals set for children a year older. Increasing numbers of children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities attend the school. They settle very well and achieve as well as other groups. This is because staff expertly identify the children's individual needs and offer the appropriate levels of support to sustain their enjoyment and interest in learning. Some are so content at the Nursery they cry when it is time to leave. Parents comment that their children 'Come on in leaps and bounds here'.
Personal development and well-being
Children flourish here. Their love of learning is clear as they wait to get cracking on the huge array of enticing activities. Parents say, 'Children are very excited every day at what awaits.' Children immerse themselves in every activity, safe in the knowledge that adults are always close at hand to offer support. Adults are expert at encouraging children's independence and so each child becomes more adept at finding their own solutions to problems. Children's spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding. They readily attend to their own needs and are increasingly aware of others who may need help. For example, they automatically pour water for those less able physically. They see this considerate behaviour as nothing unusual. Children choose where to learn and play and which resources to use. They tidy away diligently. Children have an increasing understanding of different cultures. They enjoy playing with Persona dolls and tracking the adventures of the six nursery teddy bears they helped to make. Most parents ensure their children attend the Nursery regularly. This helps their progress and encourages reliability.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Wherever the visitor turns in the Nursery, there are small huddles of children, totally caught up in learning new skills. Interested and highly skilled adults converse constantly with children, developing their language skills and self-esteem in equal measure. Key workers create a real home from home for children who thrive in the welcoming environment. The learning environment is stamped with evidence of children's ownership. Laminated books record children's understanding of how to stay safe and live healthy lives. These are strewn alongside other handmade books of photographs and children love looking at these. Parents refer to the, 'dedicated, fantastic staff who continuously strive to bring out the best in all children'. Children's needs are met so well because staff identify individual needs very early on and, where necessary, seek external expertise to ensure appropriate levels of support. Staff have the highest of expectations of children in terms of concentration, commitment and response. As a result, children's behaviour and attitudes to learning are excellent.
Curriculum and other activities
The successful collaboration with 'Creative Partnerships' has rekindled boys' love of writing through more creative use of technology along with the introduction of an extended range of physical activities. These improve children's handwriting skills and attitudes to written tasks in general. Every area of learning has its place outside as well as indoors and this helps to consolidate and extend children's learning. Parents refer appreciatively to the impressive range of activities. The exciting outdoor environment encourages children to make the most of every resource on offer and they do not hold back. At any one time, children outside can be lounging on 'the beach', pedalling round a race circuit, staging a puppet show or dancing on the 'village green'. Indoors, they may be making fruit salad, compiling a book for Mothers' Day, or listing the characteristics of dinosaurs from the pictures on the interactive whiteboard.
Care, guidance and support
High quality links with day care staff ensure that children settle quickly. Similarly, older children transfer to primary school with minimal anxiety. The school establishes strong pastoral programmes with receiving primary schools to support children at this vulnerable time. Parents conscientiously complete home-school scrapbooks and these show how well they support children's learning at home. Scrapbooks are reviewed each half term and children are rightly proud of their colourful records. There are appropriate procedures in place to safeguard learners. Health and safety systems are well established. Key workers monitor children's activities, responses and achievements very closely. Daily jottings supplement more formal observations and equip staff to make accurate assessments of children's work and progress. Adults are quick to identify children's strengths and areas to develop. There is still scope for more detail to be recorded within the initial assessments staff make of children's skills when they join the school. Children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are extremely well supported because of the speedy identification of, and provision for, their needs. Meticulous records show just how well they respond to the excellent support they receive.
Leadership and management
Parents say that the school 'is managed with extreme passion by the headteacher, teachers and staff'. The headteacher's impressive leadership skills motivate all the staff as she continues to improve provision and provide opportunities for children and families to develop an affinity for lifelong learning. She is ably assisted by the deputy headteacher and governors, and benefits from unswerving support from all staff. The school knows itself well and its self-evaluation is accurate if modestly expressed. The headteacher has successfully faced a test of her leadership and management whilst establishing the Children's Centre. Throughout that long period, she has kept a keen focus on maintaining high performance throughout the school's provision. Governors support the headteacher tenaciously and play an active part in school life. They have a well developed understanding of the school's priorities. Staff are mindful of their areas of responsibility and ensure the six areas of learning receive equal attention so that children experience a carefully balanced curriculum.