A Guide to Maintained Nurseries

A Guide to Nursery Classes or Nursery School

Nursery education provides an excellent opportunity for your children to expand their world and increase their learning opportunities. A child usually attends a maintained nursery for 12 months (three terms) prior to the year in which they start the reception class.
In some cases places are available for longer and a child may be offered a place from the term following their third birthday, enabling them to have four or five terms of nursery education.

What are maintained nurseries?

Warrington Education Authority directly maintains one nursery school and 27 nursery classes attached to a variety of primary schools. Maintained nurseries offer free, part time, early education sessions for children aged 3 - 5 years. A session is approximately two and a half hours long and is usually offered for five mornings or five afternoons each week. Maintained nurseries are open during school hours in term time only. Opening and closing times may vary, but are in the main set to times that work alongside the school hours. Some maintained nursery classes have additional provision on site to offer “wraparound” care which is childcare around the early education session. The provision will make a charge for this wraparound care.

How do I know my child will be safe and secure?

First of all, you know your child best. Look for a nursery you feel will be suitable for your child.
Registration and inspection of maintained nurseries is carried out by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED). This ensures that staff are qualified to care for children and that the curriculum follows the national guidelines. The staff in the nursery must be trained to work with children and usually will consist of a qualified Teacher and a Nursery Assistant. The usual ratio for a maintained nursery is 2 adults to 26 children. Each school produces its own prospectus which contains information about that nursery and is available on request. The Local Education Authority ensures that premises are safe and suitable for children.

What will my child do at a maintained nursery?

Children aged three, four and five are constantly encountering new experiences and seeking to understand them in order to extend their skills, develop their confidence and build on what they already know. At nursery well planned activities and experiences enable children to deepen their understanding by playing, talking, observing, planning, questioning, experimenting and responding to adults and to each other. Through well planned play children learn with enjoyment and challenge. The teaching in nursery schools and classes is based around the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. It is important to visit the nursery with your child. Don’t be frightened to ask questions about anything which may concern you.

How do I find a place at a maintained nursery?

You will need to contact the nursery direct to see if they have any available places. Collect a Nursery Admissions Book and a Preference Form from the school. Your completed Preference Form needs to be returned to the school you prefer by the closing date given.  By the end of April you will receive a letter telling you about the nursery place allocated to your child.  If any of the school nurseries you list on your preference form are at Church Aided schools you may need to complete the school's own application form in addition to the Local Education Authority Preference Form.

Key points to consider
? Visit the nursery with your child
? Are you made welcome by the staff?
? Are the children playing together happily?
? Is the environment stimulating, safe and secure?
? Are the resources suitable and well maintained?
? Can the children make independent choices for a wide range of activities?
? Are the adults involved in supporting the children’s activities?
? Are the children’s achievements celebrated through sensitive displays of their work?
? Are all children valued and respected?
? Do the staff talk and listen to the children sensitively?
? Are the activities appropriate for 3 and 4 year olds?
? Do children have access to outdoor play?
? Is information available about the Early Years Foundation Stage available?
? Are you encouraged to share your knowledge of your child with the nursery staff?
? What are the procedures for a mutual sharing of information about your child?
? Are all nursery policies and procedures accessible to parents on request?
? Ofsted reports for schools can be viewed on-line at www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports or directly at the school