Nursery World Awards 2013: Organisations - School Early Years Team of the Year

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Winner: High Greave Infant School, Rotherham.

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High Greave's early years provision has been totally overhauled in the past two years.

Previously, resources were poor, space was used ineffectively, staffing was inefficient and children could go for hours without a meaningful conversation.

A newly formed federation decided to change the structure, moving from two foundation stage units of 45 children to a separate nursery and two reception classes. This has resulted in smaller class sizes, enabling staff to provide better care and learning in relation to the social and emotional needs of the children.

The learning environment in the three classes has been transformed with lots of smaller, natural, communication-friendly and exciting spaces. Staff teams were also restructured and transformed - moving from, in the words of executive headteacher Matt Freeston, 'stressed, over-loaded "survivors" to become creative, reflective practitioners with a renewed desire to develop practice that inspired children'. Each class has three staff members, enabling high-quality interaction, and lots of small group conversations where children's individual needs are catered for.

'Tribe Time' is held twice a day. During these sessions, children are nurtured in their social and emotional learning and also in their speech and language, areas needing support for many of the children at High Greave.

Relationships with parents have also been transformed. Communication has increased between school and home, including home visits to new starters and transition meetings. Instead of a culture of apathy and negative communications there is now one of positive relationships centred around children.

Matt says, 'The transformation at High Greave has been dramatic and the team that run the Foundation Stage, many of whom have been with the school from the beginning, are a testament to the success that can be created when common desires are linked with support and resources from leadership.'

The early years team are jointly motivated by a shared vision - to become an outstanding early years setting at their next Ofsted inspection.


Criterion

Open to Early Years Foundation Stage or equivalent teams in maintained nursery schools and primary schools.

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