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FI - EARLY DAYS COUNTRY PLAYGROUP

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					INTRODUCTION

1.      Early Days Country Playgroup is a pre-school
centre under private management. At the time of the
inspection, a total of 16 children attended the centre; 10
were in their pre-school year.

2.     The inspection is part of a programme to ensure
that appropriate standards of education are provided in
centres receiving funding as part of the Government‟s
expansion of pre-school education.

THE QUALITY            OF       THE    EDUCATIONAL
PROVISION

3.      The children enjoy excellent relationships with
the staff who provide them with high levels of
reassurance and support. The children‟s self-confidence
is promoted effectively; they are encouraged to play
amicably and to help one another. The behaviour of the
children is good. The playroom is small but arranged
thoughtfully to provide distinct and interesting areas for
different aspects of play. The environment is enhanced
by displays incorporating a good range of the children‟s
art work, and by interest areas that encourage the
children to observe and handle the items. There is a
happy family atmosphere. The staff are committed to the
children‟s welfare and to meeting their needs; they work
well as a team.




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4.      The parents are made very welcome in the centre;
there is good communication between the staff and the
parents. Before the children start attending the centre,
the parents and children are invited to an open day;
appropriate settling-in procedures are followed. A
parents‟ noticeboard and monthly newsletters provide
information about the educational programme and
relevant local events. The parents co-operate readily
with the staff and contribute items for display. There are
good opportunities for informal contact with parents at
the beginning and end of the session. The staff have
recently met with parents to discuss the children‟s
progress. The staff report that these interactions were
useful and were appreciated by the parents. The
inspection provided opportunities for the parents to
express their views about the centre. Those who
responded were satisfied or very satisfied with all aspects
of the centre‟s provision.

5.      Recently, the centre has updated its written policy
and procedures for child protection; these are now
detailed and comprehensive. The staff are aware of
appropriate procedures for reporting matters of concern
and have given some consideration to their own practices
in the centre. All the staff now need to become more
fully aware of all the procedures to be followed. The
proprietor has identified appropriately the need for staff
to attend training on child protection. The parents are
given information about the centre‟s policy and
procedures.




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6.      The proprietor and the staff meet each week and
work closely in compiling the written planning. Monthly
themes and topics are used to develop a range of
learning. A yearly overview helps the staff to ensure
some breadth and balance in the curriculum. The
planning has begun to take account of the children‟s
responses to the play programme. Further development
is needed in order to identify progression in the use of
the resources throughout the year and to ensure a close
match between the provision and the children‟s differing
stages of development.

7.      The informal organisation of the early part of the
session provides a good period of uninterrupted play.
During this period, the children have free choice of
activity, appropriate opportunities to interact with others
and adequate time to develop their interest and
concentration in play. The informal snack time extends
the children‟s social and conversational skills. More
needs to be done to encourage their independence and a
sense of responsibility. There are opportunities for
outdoor play when the weather permits.

8.      The staff engage the children in valuable
discussion about their experiences and participate
sensitively in many of the activities to provide role
models and to extend the play. The sustained support
provided by the staff results in quality interaction




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between the staff and the children; they are constantly
encouraging the children to observe, to think, to
experiment and make choices. Their involvement is
consistently skilful and purposeful.

9.      The centre‟s educational programme promotes
effectively the children‟s personal, social and emotional
development. The range of activities offers satisfactory
opportunities for learning in all the other areas of the pre-
school curriculum. The provision for early mathematical
experiences and the development of language skills is
good. The points which follow illustrate specific aspects
of the programme.

   The careful attention given to promoting the
    children‟s    personal,  social    and    emotional
    development is evident in the children‟s confidence
    and growing independence. The children show
    concentration in their play and can co-operate
    effectively with others.

   There are opportunities for the children to develop
    some appropriate physical skills. Although the
    limited space indoors restricts the provision for
    energetic physical play, the centre has access to a
    spacious garden area which is used when the weather
    permits. During the inspection, the children enjoyed




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    their physical play outdoors using the thoughtfully
    arranged equipment; they were encouraged to
    observe the recently planted spring flowers. The
    children‟s use of small tools, such as scissors and
    pencils, is developed effectively.

   The children‟s abilities to express their ideas
    creatively are developed through the use of a range of
    art materials. During the inspection, the variety of
    materials encouraged the children to make choices
    and to express their own ideas. Their individual
    efforts were encouraged and valued.           Musical
    awareness was promoted effectively through the
    good use by the staff of opportunities arising
    spontaneously from the children‟s interests. Ideas of
    rhythm and tone were introduced and the children
    were helped to accompany their singing.

   The centre provides an environment rich in language.
    The staff give high priority to developing the
    children‟s oral and listening skills through skilful talk
    and discussion and by introducing a wide vocabulary
    and range of ideas. The children browse in the book
    corner and stories are read to them at their request.
    During the inspection, the children showed an
    interest in early attempts at writing as part of their
    play. The staff help the parents to value the
    children‟s work.




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   The staff encourage the children to count, match,
    make comparisons and recognise shapes as they use a
    range of materials and equipment during play.
    Imaginative play is used well to promote early
    mathematical ideas; for example, during the
    inspection, the children matched and counted as they
    prepared for a “picnic”; they recalled the sequence of
    the story, „Goldilocks and the Three Bears‟, as they
    made “breakfast” in the home corner. Songs and
    rhymes are often used appropriately as starting points
    for learning about number.

   The children are helped to become aware of the
    properties of materials through interesting play with
    sand, water and dough. During the inspection, the
    provision of vegetables and compost was used
    effectively to help the children to observe natural
    materials. The addition of yellow fruits and lemon
    essence to the water stimulated the children‟s
    curiosity and sensory awareness resulting in
    interesting and valuable discussion about the effects
    observed. While the staff provide variety in the
    constructional equipment, they need to do more to
    ensure that there are adequate opportunities for the
    development of early technological awareness.




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   Themes and topics provide a useful focus for
    learning about the environment. For example, the
    theme of „the farm‟ has been extended appropriately
    through many aspects of play, fostering valuable talk
    and discussion. The children‟s experiences are
    extended usefully when members of the local
    community visit the centre and visits are organised to
    places of interest, such as the farm.

10.     The staff‟s development of a key-worker system
is helping them gain a good knowledge of the children‟s
individual interests and needs. They are developing
appropriate methods of assessing and recording the
children's progress.      Thoughtful observations are
recorded of the children‟s responses to play. The staff
share the information with parents.

11.     Currently, the centre employs two leaders who
work on alternate days. Next year, the centre plans to
change this system through the full-time appointment of
one of the leaders. During the inspection, the leader on
duty displayed enthusiasm and skill in working with the
children. She provided a good role model for the other
staff in implementing the educational programme. In
addition the proprietor is involved fully in planning the
provision, and works alongside the staff during part of
the session. She takes responsibility for much of the




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administration and promotes a strong sense of teamwork,
valuing the contribution made by all the members of
staff. The proprietor has a clear vision for future
developments and has compiled an appropriate
development plan. The staff benefit from her expertise
and commitment to their professional development.
Much progress has been made in implementing the plans
for improvement.

12.     There is useful communication with the local
primary school. As the children reach the age of four
years, there is a tendency for parents to transfer them to
the school‟s reception group. The centre staff work hard
to maintain a settled atmosphere and to address the
difficulties for programme planning arising from this
practice.

13.     The centre is situated in an attractive rural area
and promotes the children‟s knowledge and appreciation
of the local environment. The children have access to a
safely enclosed, spacious outdoor play area. The centre
has an adequate supply of equipment and materials.
These resources need to be extended further in order to
support the implementation of a broad and challenging
programme which progresses appropriately over the year.

14.    The strengths of the centre include:

          the friendly, family atmosphere and the
           excellent relationships at all levels;




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         the children‟s good behaviour and their
          settled and concentrated play;

         the high quality of the staff‟s interaction with
          the children;

         the thoughtful organisation of the daily
          timetable and the variety of interesting
          activities provided for the children;

         the opportunities for imaginative play;

         the dedication and commitment of the staff,
          and their enthusiastic team approach.

15.   The inspection has identified some areas
which require action.       In addressing the most
important areas, the centre needs to:

         develop further the planning in order to
          ensure that the programme provides the
          children with appropriate progression and
          challenge throughout the year and extends
          fully their learning;

         extend the range of resources to support the
          implementation of a broad and balanced
          programme.




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16.    Overall, the quality of the educational provision
in this pre-school centre is entirely satisfactory but
improvements are needed in the areas identified if the
needs of the children are to be met fully. The staff
should draw up a plan to address these areas. The
Department‟s Inspectorate will monitor the progress
being made.




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posted:2/25/2010
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