St. Michaels Pre-school first opened in the late sixties based at St Michaels Village Hall.
In 1999 Brigitte Watkins became the third owner. There are nine members of staff, four of which have over 20 years each of experience in Early Years. We pride ourselves on continuous reflection towards our practice. We are members of the Learning Alliance ( previously know as The Preschool Learning Alliance) keeping us abreast of changes in policy, procedure and legislation. Joining a ' Collaboration' has given us the opportunity to network with other settings, share good practise and access affordable training. The manager sits on the Provider Association as representative of the Ashford area and holds Vice Chair on the Ashford Collaboration.
In September 2014 the pre-school moved to a mobile classroom on the site of St Michaels C of E Primary School. The Pre-school has its own entrance on the public foot path running from the A28 to Marshalls Land. Whilst building on the strong links with the primary school this does not exclude children who will be applying to other schools in our area. Each year we successfully support transitions to many of the surrounding primary schools.
We create a safe environment that encourages independent learning and sustained sharing thinking.
The outside area supports children in their physical development with space to run around as well as small risk taking on our hilly area. We are able to create opportunities to observe plant life and mini beasts with our garden troughs. Through the seasons the children can gain understanding of the passage of time.
During the session we run a ‘rolling’ snack time which enables the children to choose when they wish to interrupt their play for a drink and snack. It is a time to build on independence, healthy eating and social skills.
Local walks to the Church,regular visits to the Mobile Library and trips to the Post Office are planned to encourage the children to think about their extending world. We also visit a local Residential Care home so the children can sing nursery rhymes/Christmas songs. Each year we manage to fit in a Fire Engine visit facilitated by returning to the Village Hall car park.
One of our strengths is our Partnership with Parents. With an embedded keyperson system, we enjoy strong bonds with our keychildren and their families. Using an 'online' assessment tool has ensured Parents and carers can be involved at every stage of their childs development. This ensures that we gain a true picture of the individual child.
Many of our staff have been closely involved with childrens transitions to school. Whilst we feed into more than one school, we have extremely smooth transitions at St. Michaels. During the academic year we spend time in Reception for shared learning. The exposure to different adults, personal care facilities, and environment is invaluable when building on childrens resilience and confidence.
Visit to Penn Green Children's Centre and Research Base (November 2013)
Working with vulnerable families;
Two members of staff visited the Penn Green Childrens Centre (flagship for working with vulnerable families). Travelling to Corby in Northants we were able to spend a day with many other practitioners and see first hand how good practise and resources can support young children and families, creating positive outcomes. As a result of registering for the Free for Two funding and attending this event we will be receiving some fantastic equipment for the setting.
St Michaels Primary School
Many of our staff are facilitating the Primary School Beakfast Club, taking place in the mobile classroom each term time morning. Many of the children have attended the pre-school over previous years, so it is a delight to work with familiar as well as new families.
This club has been a success and the school have now opened an after school club.