Early Excellence Cluster Project Laura Leonard Nikki Wilkinson

In our nursery and reception classes learning areas were just beginning to emerge. Most areas were not supported by shelving units. Provision was busy and complicated. Areas were not resourced throughly or effectively or with much attention to detail. Some areas were being replenished weekly whilst others were crying out for change and enrichment.

Staff have always had the children's best interests in mind. They have always wanted the children to be happy and to succeed. Some staff did not believe it was there job to 'play'. They did not realise how many learning opportunities there were in the learning areas or how deep it could go. Assessments were made at a table, children were taken out of the classroom for interventions.

The daily timetable was very structured and orderly. It was rarely diverted from unless there was a celebration happening such as Chinese New Year or rehearsals for the Christmas performances. Children's ideas and interests were not given enough time to cover and explore.

Participating on the Early Excellent Cluster Project has had a huge influence on our setting. It has given practioners the knowledge and confidence to make changes and tackle barriers. It has made practise much more logical, demolishing any uncertainty. The design of the room has changed. It has become more inquisitive. Children are engaged for longer periods of time and can extend their learning to a deeper level by changes being made to the timetable. Practitioners are able to step back and scan the room to see all children involved in purposeful learning.

Children were encouraged and supported to create a dinosaur swamp.
We wanted to see the changes for ourselves following the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Are all bubbles spheres? Give us time to investigate.
Snack time promotes independence and no longer interrupts time using the continuous provision.

Our nursery received a water and playdough shelving unit as part of the project. The shelving units provided have been beyond popular, especially because of the fact it has introduced the water area inside! They shelving units have incouraged children's independence. Children use the match back labels on the tubs to see where resources are and where to return them. They take ownership of the area and have no excuses when it comes to tidying up! At first the height of the shelving units were uncomfortable. Practitioners could not always directly see the children. However the height of the shelving unit has been advantageous for many reasons. Children can see what is readily available as it is the perfect height for them. Speech and language and collaboration between the children has dramatically increased. Although we cannot always directly see them we can certainly hear them. Because the provision is continuous children have more confidence to come back into the areas talk to one another about how to use the resources, what they have previously made and what they are make next. When new children join us on turning 3 they are able to adapt so quickly as not only are practitioners modelling the play but most commonly older children are modelling the play.

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