Nursery World Awards 2020 - Early Years in School Award

Friday, February 5, 2021

Newbridge School, Romford

Newbridge School includes a well established early years setting that provides education and care to children who have a range of complex learning difficulties, often accompanied by additional health needs. The majority of the children within the early years have an Educational Health Care Plan or are admitted on assessment places.

Newbridge Early Years strives to place each child at the centre of their own learning, through two key approaches; an embedded key person approach which places observation at its heart, and a planning in the moment approach.

The setting aims to offer children core learning experiences such as mark making, messy play, literacy corner, construction, role play, small world, and outdoor opportunities such as a mud kitchen and physical development throughout the day.

Every core experience is then personalised to the individual children’s needs. Children’s views are key and, due to the complex needs of the children in the setting, staff are extremely conscious of observing the voice of the child to ensure they respect their right to refusal.

Core experiences are carefully planned to enable inclusive access within the environment. For example, ‘water play’ is differentiated according to the child, using a variety of approaches such as ‘foot spa time’ with a tuff-tray on the floor for children who use a standing frame.

Newbridge Early Years has established outstanding practice which centres on children and their families. Staff actively seek parents’ views, recognising that for many families, children coming to Newbridge can be a very emotional time. For some, staff are the first adults that parents have left their children with since they were born.

Staff seek family’s views prior to children’s official start date. Transitions are carefully planned through home visits and the setting offers a flexible timetable in terms of start and finish times to accommodate and ensure families settle in accordance with their individual needs.

‘Play and Progress’ sessions allow parents to come in and discuss their children’s progress and take part in the setting for an afternoon, promoting an open dialogue between staff and parents.

Staff also work proactively with other professionals such as nurses, therapists and social workers, considering children’s needs in a holistic manner and respecting and collaborating with other experts involved.

Newbridge School has been rated Outstanding by Ofsted for 10 years, but managers constantly strive to improve practice to help children reach their full potential. They plan to review personal care routines based on the Pikler approach, and develop active learning spaces influenced by Lilli Nielsen. These spaces will be highly personalised according to the children’s needs and interests.

The setting values its key person approach and, as a result, knows its children very well. Staff are creative in ensuring children have a voice, and seek to support communication through a variety of means, including specialist equipment, such as switches or communication devices, and specialist strategies, such as the use of visuals, signing, or touch, sound or smell cues.


Gateways School

Kingsgate Primary School


For Early Years Foundation Stage or equivalent provision in primary schools which have developed high-quality practice for nursery and Reception children

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