At Southwark Primary School children arrive with a variety of pre-school experiences. There are many pre-schools, day nurseries and school nurseries from which the children enter either into the nursery, or straight into reception. And, of course, some children have not been to any setting previously at all. I decided to get the team together to ask the question: how can we build a good knowledge of the children and understand their previous experiences?
For children who have not been to any early years setting, home visiting provides a valuable initial link between home and school. We visit the child in the security of their home environment to begin to build a relationship with both the child and their parent. We give them a 'Starting at Southwark' booklet, which they get to keep, and find out vital information about their interests, likes and fears. This addresses some of the issues about where the child is coming from, but what about the settings that some of them have experienced?
Bringing the team together to answer some of these questions was invaluable and as a result we have decided to set up a Foundation Stage Network - a network of practitioners who are interested in sharing good practice and providing each other with support. We have invited professionals from the settings in the immediate area, including teachers, teaching assistants, nursery nurses, as well as the teacher from the local children's centre. Our initial meeting will be to introduce ourselves and to discuss our priorities for the following meetings.
We will meet at different settings each time, providing the opportunity to see where some of our children are coming from or going to. Crucially, it is an opportunity to build links with local childcare providers. By developing relationships with settings in the local area it will be easier to share information on the children moving between settings, and so provide the best transitions.