Voluntary Inspection Report on Acorns British Style Nursery by rebeccaGerritY

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                                         1 Louis Blanc Street, 3 Floor, Room 1, District 1, Bucharest-Romania

                                                                Phone: +4021.231.0217; Fax: +4021.231.0218

                                                                                 www.mogosoaiacollege.com

                                                                                  E-mail:julian.hingley@hl1.ro




Voluntary Inspection Report on Acorns British Style Nursery, Bucharest, 16 March 2009



Management and Links:

Acorns British Style Nursery was opened in September 2004 to provide high quality early years
education and child care for children aged between one and six years. It is modeled on the day
nursery provision available throughout England. In 2006, Acorns expanded through the opening of a
second site, “Baby Acorns” which is dedicated to specific provision for the youngest age group. In
2008, Acorns expanded further and moved to its present site in order to meet the demand from
more new parents. The age groups for three to six year olds are now accommodated in a much
bigger building which has enabled the intake to rise from 36 to 70 children. Baby Acorns currently
has 35 children enrolled, bringing the present total enrolment to 105 children, with ten nationalities
represented. This figure is the nursery’s maximum capacity. Clearly, the nursery is a popular choice.

The Head Teacher (Fiona Dutu) and Acorns Manager (Valentina Secara) are fully committed to the
future development of the nursery. Acorns doubled its intake over the past year following expansion
in to the new building. The management team has taken measures to ensure that a strong standard
of provision prevails, that continuity and progression are sustained. The management regularly
evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the nursery through self-evaluation based on OFSTED
criteria, regular contact with parents, feedback from staff and inviting external inspectors. Since its
inauguration, Acorns has been visited by the British Council, directors of international schools in
Bucharest, representatives from the British and German embassies, and representatives from
“Childcare Consultancy” in England who awarded the nursery an overall “good standard of care and
education” based on OFSTED criteria. Acorns Nursery is a member of the British Association for
Early Childhood Education and the British organisation “Learning through Landscapes”. The nursery
is additionally an affiliate member of the British-Romanian Chamber of Commerce. An official
affiliation exists between the nursery and the International British School of Bucharest, with Acorns
being the official feeder nursery to the school. The nursery also has established a professional link
with Early Years Childcare and with Hove Nursery, with which Acorns exchanges children’s work on
                                           st                   rd
                                          1 Louis Blanc Street, 3 Floor, Room 1, District 1, Bucharest-Romania

                                                                 Phone: +4021.231.0217; Fax: +4021.231.0218

                                                                                  www.mogosoaiacollege.com

                                                                                   E-mail:julian.hingley@hl1.ro

a regular basis. In August, Acorns teachers will spend a week working in Hove Nursery as the first
part of a developing exchange programme.

Premises and Security:

Acorns British Style Nursery is situated at 80A Matei Voievod Street, Sector 2, Bucharest. The
building is a safe and secure 3 storey house, set back from the road with a generous outdoor space
in front of the house which is used daily by the children for physical development, gardening and
play. The outdoor area is suitably equipped with safety flooring over the climbing area, scooters and
tricycles, a pretend play house, table with umbrella for quiet activities and kindred resources.

Access to the nursery can only be made via an intercom system from the street. All unknown visitors
are escorted to the office and all remain accompanied at all times. The interior of the nursery is
welcoming and brightly decorated with children’s work, parents’ notices, welcome sign and photos
which provide evidence of the activities which take place in the nursery and trips out to places of
local interest. Children are supervised at all times and at are only released into the care of parents
or another adult named by parents at appointed times. A stair rail allows small children to use the
stairs safely. A safety gate on the first floor prevents children having access to the back stairs. Fire
extinguishers are located on all levels of the building and fire exits and fire routes are clearly
marked.

Learning and Development:

Acorns children are happy and enjoy coming to the nursery. All activities are conducted in English.
English is spoken throughout the day with the children showing good evidence of understanding
their instructions and daily routines. Some children who have joined the nursery recently are already
able to use colour names and count in English, whilst other children speak more fluently and use
English throughout the day both in their work and play situations. There is a relaxed atmosphere
and children enjoy good relationships with each other and with staff. A combination of child initiated
and adult led activities take place throughout the day with structured weekly and longer term
planning in place. Each area of the Early Years Foundation Stage is addressed, with activities
appropriate to the children’s ages and levels of development. Children work and play in small
groups of up to 6 children. Resources are well labelled and are freely accessible to children. The
                                            st                   rd
                                           1 Louis Blanc Street, 3 Floor, Room 1, District 1, Bucharest-Romania

                                                                  Phone: +4021.231.0217; Fax: +4021.231.0218

                                                                                   www.mogosoaiacollege.com

                                                                                    E-mail:julian.hingley@hl1.ro

teachers and staff know the children very well and are all fully involved with them throughout the
day. There is evidence of progression between Tweenies 1 and 2, with the teachers having higher
expectations of the older group and activities being in line with expectations for their age.

In Early Explorers (age 4-6), activities are slightly more formal and children are introduced to a
“school type” day, with learning taking place until 4pm (whereas the younger children sleep in the
afternoon). Books and resources are those which are recommended for use in British schools.
Children work in small groups according to their age and level of development, either following the
Reception or Year 1 curriculum. Standards of Maths are very good, with many children achieving
beyond expectations for their age, as evidenced by the work recorded in their books and by the type
of extension activities provided. The older children, who will start school in September, are able to
read and write in-line with chronological expectations. Children generally have a very good level of
spoken English, particularly those older children who will start school in September, who are able to
read and write in line with expectations for their age. Children from Acorns successfully transfer into
other British or international schools in Bucharest, as evidenced by previous leavers.

Assessment Requirements:

Assessment arrangements are very good and go beyond what is legally required in England and
Wales. On-going observations are carried out by staff on a daily basis. These observations are
used to inform weekly planning. Each parent also receives a written weekly report, containing
information such as the child’s response to activities, areas of progress made and any concerns
which have arisen during the week. An “evaluation meeting” is held each term in which parents are
invited to see a video of their child taking part in daily activities and to discuss their child’s progress
in detail with teachers. Each child has an Acorns Profile, the nursery’s own version of the Early
Years Foundation Stage Profile in which learning and development is recorded, based closely upon
the learning goals of EYFS. This Profile becomes part of the child’s academic record which is
passed onto the receiving school when a child leaves the nursery. An end of year academic report is
given to all parents, summarising the achievements made by children during the year and
suggesting future targets.

Information for Parents:
                                          st                   rd
                                         1 Louis Blanc Street, 3 Floor, Room 1, District 1, Bucharest-Romania

                                                                Phone: +4021.231.0217; Fax: +4021.231.0218

                                                                                 www.mogosoaiacollege.com

                                                                                  E-mail:julian.hingley@hl1.ro

The nursery has excellent systems in place for communicating with parents. At the beginning of
each week parents receive a weekly information sheet from the Head Teacher (“This Week in
Acorns”), informing them of activities and events which will be taking place and a menu which
informs parents of all food and drinks which will be given to the children. The nursery operates an
“open door” policy and parents are welcome to enter the nursery rooms or to talk to the
Management. A monthly newsletter is sent to all parents, informing them of news for both nurseries
and the work of the Acorns Foundation. Parents also receive regular letters from the Acorns
Manager. The nursery also holds monthly parents meetings on a variety of themes, the aim of which
is to inform them of how best to support their child’s learning, and encouraging them to meet each
other and share experiences. The Acorns Parents Association supports the work of the nursery and
meets with the nursery management, representing the wider parent community. A significant
number of parents involve themselves in organising trips out to local places of interest. The nursery
holds a “Parents Week” in the autumn term during which parents are invited to participate in
activities with their children. An official Open Day is hosted in each spring term.

Extra-Curricular:

The nursery provides an ongoing programme of ‘optional activities’ which include acting, ballet,
swimming and karate. These activities are popular with both children and parents and provide
opportunities for children to develop skills in music, co-ordination, muscle control and self
confidence. Each month a birthday party is held in each of the nursery groups for all the children
born in the respective month; this is just one of the many ways in which the nursery helps the
children to learn about themselves and their indigenous cultures and to celebrate each other’s
similarities and differences. A very comprehensive calendar of events and trips is organised each
term, thereby exposing the children to a variety of new experiences and helping them to learn about
other cultures, beliefs and practices. Regular events are also organised with the International British
School of Bucharest and visits are made to the school by the Early Explorers group, helping the
older children to prepare for school.

Medical:

The nursery has a comprehensive Accidents and Illnesses Policy, and Sickness Policy which are
given to all parents. A full-time nurse is employed in the nursery and she is responsible for
                                           st                   rd
                                          1 Louis Blanc Street, 3 Floor, Room 1, District 1, Bucharest-Romania

                                                                 Phone: +4021.231.0217; Fax: +4021.231.0218

                                                                                  www.mogosoaiacollege.com

                                                                                   E-mail:julian.hingley@hl1.ro

monitoring the children’s health and dealing with all medical issues and accidents. A doctor also
examines the children twice a month. A fully equipped medical room is located on the first floor and
is authorised by the Romanian health department. Medicines are only accepted in to the nursery
with written permission from the parents; a written record is kept of all medicines administered and
any first aid given. The nursery has private insurance with a local ambulance provider. All the
teachers and staff are currently undergoing a training course in first aid.

Food and Drink:

All meals are freshly prepared on the premises and the kitchen is operated by a qualified cook and
assistant. Mainly seasonal fruits and vegetables are used and artificial ingredients are kept to a
minimum. The weekly menus are healthy, balanced and nutritious, including a variety of Romanian
and international dishes, thereby introducing the children to a wide variety of tastes and food
textures. Mealtimes are happy occasions in which the children learn various social conventions and
practice good manners. Bottled drinking water is available for children throughout the day.

Staff:

The two Acorns Nurseries are run by the Acorns Foundation Manager, Valentina Secara and the
Head Teacher, Fiona Dutu. Acorns nursery is staffed by ten teachers, a nurse/teacher assistant, a
secretary, two cleaners, one cook and a kitchen assistant. The nursery is managed on a day to day
basis by the British qualified Head Teacher who has wide prior experience of teaching both in
England and Romania. She also acts as the lead teacher for the Early Explorers group and
oversees the teaching and curriculum provision of all age groups. Nine of the teachers are
Romanian nationals while one teacher is Indian. A number of the teachers have previous
experience of working with children outside Romania. An excellent teacher - child ratio is maintained
of 1:6 children in the two younger classes and 1:8 in ages 4-6. A key person system operates
throughout the nursery, ensuring that each child’s needs are met. A comprehensive interview and
induction process run by the Head Teacher ensures the nursery employs the best staff available.
The nursery also offers a realistic pay scale to encourage longevity among the staff. Regular training
is also offered. In 2008 the nursery organised training based on the EYFS for all staff, led by trainers
from England, to which teachers from other Bucharest international schools also came. This year,
                                          st                   rd
                                         1 Louis Blanc Street, 3 Floor, Room 1, District 1, Bucharest-Romania

                                                                Phone: +4021.231.0217; Fax: +4021.231.0218

                                                                                 www.mogosoaiacollege.com

                                                                                  E-mail:julian.hingley@hl1.ro

the Head Teacher has introduced an on-going training programme for all teachers, based on the
National Vocational Qualification standards used in England and Wales.

Behaviour:

The nursery has a comprehensive behaviour management policy which emphasizes the use of
positive reinforcement techniques. Teachers have realistic expectations of children in line with
expectations for their stage of development. Children work and play in a happy and relaxed
atmosphere in which they are encouraged to be creative, independent and co-operative. Rewards
such as praise, stickers, and certificates are evident and children are well-motivated. Suitable
sanctions are used when necessary and behavior problems are dealt with sensitively by teachers.

On a final note, I wish to thank Valentina Secara and Fiona Dutu for inviting me to visit and tour the
Acorns Nursery. I enjoyed the opportunity very much. Acorns Nursery is a clean and orderly
environment. All the young children I saw were happy and on-task. All of the teachers and ancillary
staff were friendly and welcoming. It is my deep conclusion that Acorns Nursery is a successful and
forward looking learning environment for pre-school children. The full nursery roll and the expanding
waiting list exist as testimonies to the care and success of the Acorns culture. I have no hesitation
therefore in recommending this nursery and the services it delivers. There is a formula and
leadership tandem which will allow Acorns Nursery to achieve considerable future growth and
expansion.

Julian Hingley, Director CFE: 25 March 2009

								
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