Franche Community Primary School’s close-knit and passionate early years team members work together to overcome significant challenges at all levels of care and learning.
The school’s Early Years Unit provides a total of 286 places, 173 of which are nursery places (three- and four-year-olds) and 113 Reception.
The pre-school nursery is run by the local authority/private partnership charitable trust. It is managed by Jane Bulmer and overseen by the school’s head of early years.
A third of children arrive at the unit with an identified special educational need. The vast majority have behavioural, communication, emotional, social or medical challenges. Most pre-school children starting at the pre-school are performing below or well below average in all areas of the EYFS.
However, staff meet each of these challenges head on, creating, according to the school’s latest Ofsted report, ‘an exceptionally nurturing environment where every child is valued and their interests and learning styles are supported’. As a result, children make outstanding levels of progress through nursery and Reception, with the majority reaching the level expected for their age.
Staff achieve this by careful planning of settling-in and transition periods, as well as removing any obstacles to learning. For example, the school set up a free minibus
service for frequent late attendees, collecting children as young as two.
The school has an excellent record for identifying areas of concern at a very early stage in a child’s journey. As part of the Early Years Unit, there is a Nursery Plus setting where young children with moderate to severe SEND difficulties are assessed and supported.
Franche Community Primary School provides a wide range of learning opportunities for every child’s learning style and interest. Its outside area includes a treehouse classroom, tyre trail and new outdoor classroom with growing beds and a mud kitchen, designed by the children, who are involved in planning all changes and developments. There is also a forest school area, which features a fire pit and natural resources for building shelters.
Reception children can enjoy free lessons at the school’s onsite swimming pool, as well as choose from a range of specialist enrichment activities every Friday afternoon, from magic skills to ballet and looking after pets. Peer massage is also used.
Outside the setting, children – a number of whom have limited life experiences – go on a number of local visits and day trips to open up the wider world to them.
The school has a fantastic partnership with parents and its community. Staff run parent workshops, host coffee mornings and provide onsite confidential parenting support – achieved by working with other agencies.
Support for children and their parents does not stop at the school gate however. Staff work closely with parents to help them resolve any issues they might be experiencing at home, particularly around behaviour or development.
The school also has a strong relationship with the onsite children’s centre, which it says is mutually beneficial.
Stamford Bridge Primary School, Yorkshire
Open to Early Years Foundation Stage or equivalent teams in maintained nursery schools and primary schools