Nursery World Awards 2021 - Early Years in School Award
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Manor Wood Primary, Leeds
The approach at Manor Wood Primary is inspired by the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia and Scandinavian Forest Schools. The fundamental belief, central to all the work it does, is that children are competent, collaborative, powerful individuals who should be given the time and space to conduct their own investigations and research.
The Foundation Unit is a place full of curiosity and creativity. Children feel valued and cared for by educators who wholeheartedly believe in their potential and capabilities. Practitioners are thoughtful, reflective, and work extremely effectively as a team.
Staff act as co-constructors in children’s learning; sharing their curiosity and offering all they need to further their research and deepen their understanding of the world around them.
Practitioners meet weekly to discuss the children’s work and investigations and support one another in developing the environment to offer children provocations which spark wonder and curiosity.
Carefully curated spaces offer children inspiring places in which to explore their interests. The belief that the environment acts as a third teacher means that all outdoor spaces at Manor Wood are constantly evolving to reflect children’s interests. Great emphasis is placed on outdoor exploration, and physical development can be explored in the large garden with woodland, riverbed, polytunnel for growing vegetables, outdoor atelier and woodwork workshop. Children regularly harvest vegetables to cook on the campfire, collect wood for the fire, and later reuse the charcoal in their artwork.
Children are encouraged to express themselves creatively. In the atelier, they learn a number of artistic techniques which offer further languages of expression, experimenting with mixed media sculpting, painting, printing, fabric dying and making recycled paper.
Children also interact with the local community, with weekly visits to local woods as well as trips to nearby farms, museums and galleries.
They work on short- and long-term projects throughout the academic year, meeting weekly for project meetings and confidently sharing their ideas.
This project work culminates in a grand event in a venue somewhere in the local community where children present their work to parents and carers.
Parents are highly valued and actively welcomed into the setting at regular ‘Stay and…’ sessions, with activities including ‘Stay and Strum’ and ‘Stay and Sketch’. These sessions offer children the chance to share their interests with their families. There are also ‘Book Breakfasts’, where children make breakfast for their carers while sharing their favourite books.
Children’s learning is extensively documented throughout the setting and in their learning journals. Families are encouraged to look through the journals to gain a sense of the work their children are doing, and make contributions from home including their own documentation, photographs, and work samples.
Reception children and their families are also invited to a barbecue in the summer before they start school to celebrate the start of their first school year.
Children at Manor Wood make great progress and leave the Foundation Unit full of self-belief, confident in their own abilities, resilient and independent. They are extremely well equipped to succeed in the next stage of their learning journey.
Gateways School, Leeds
Marlborough Primary, Washington
For Early Years Foundation Stage or equivalent provision in primary schools which have developed high-quality practice for nursery and Reception children