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View a list of frequently asked questions and answers for parents with children in Baby Room, Toddler Room, Nursery or Reception.

Daily structure

What does a typical day look like in each room?

It is a statutory requirement to provide children access to the outdoors in the Early Years. Ambler has a “free-flow” policy, allowing children access to outside for a large part of their day. They have opportunities to use a bigger space and master a great selection of wheeled equipment using the main playground. This is timetabled for nursery and reception in order for them to have discrete sessions.

The children have opportunities to visit our on-site forest as a whole class, often. This provides a wild nature experience for inner London children. Outside access is facilitated by sets of wetsuits and wellington boots to enable children to experience all weather types. We value these as great learning opportunities.

We have a short structured phonics session daily which increases in time, in parallel with the children gaining in age and ability. Children have opportunities to attend small maths group activities and small music sessions offered by our in-house music teacher.

When are the play times? Do all rooms play at once? How is it supervised?

All children in the Early Years are supported to explore the indoor and outdoor environments as part of their learning and development. Appropriate staffing ratios are in place to supervise and participate in learning opportunities.

What is ‘choosing’?

Children in the Early Years spend time independently planning their own learning. They ‘choose’ the area in which they would like to explore with adults facilitating and/or extending the learning taking place. Sometimes this will be play in which the children are learning about pretending, taking on roles, exploring feelings such as empathy, sympathy, acting out scenarios in a safe environment, negotiating and forming friendships, or understanding how to share and compromise. These are important skills for lifelong learning.

Do all the rooms eat together at lunchtime or is it staggered by age?

In the Children’s Centre we have staggered lunches to give children the best lunchtime experience. Children sit in small family style groups and are supported by key people. At the same time, children are encouraged to be independent and pour their own water, serve their own food and support one another. Lunchtimes are such a social part of the day and a chance to catch up on the morning’s activities and plan ahead for the afternoon sessions. All meals are prepared on site and special dietary requirements are catered for.

Do the rooms encourage good table manners at lunchtime?

Across the whole provision we encourage children to eat their lunches with consideration for their peers and to use appropriate manners.

How much free choice is there in what they eat and are they encouraged to eat healthily?

We have a range of options for children including some very tempting and nutritious vegetarian options. All meat is halal in line with the school’s policy and alternative options are available if required.

What sort of music teaching is provided?

Children in Nursery and Reception have a music teacher who takes small group music sessions. In line with the Early Years Foundation Stage, children have a choice whether to partake or not and a class list is used by the teacher to ensure uptake is monitored. All children in both Nursery and Reception have an opportunity during these sessions to play on a musical instrument and are taught to explore concepts such as timbre, rhythm and percussion. They are short sessions in line with developmental expectations of children at these ages.

Behaviour and Rewards

What do they get stickers for?

We do not use stickers in the Early Years so as to avoid disappointment and a collection mentality. As stated in ‘Development Matters‘, we believe “children enjoy meeting challenges for their own sake rather than external rewards” and we should “support children to feel good about their own success, rather than relying on a judgement… such as wanting a sticker.”

What is a ‘special day’? What’s the point of it?

In both Reception classes we have a ‘special day.’ Children sit on a ‘special day’ chair and get to choose another child to take registers to the office with, lay tables at lunchtime with and do various other jobs with elements of responsibility attached. Every child has a turn.

How does the school tackle bullying?

Within the Children’s Centre we have a behaviour policy to support children in managing their feelings and emotions

Teaching & Learning

Can you explain ‘mistakes are good’?

We know that children learn best in a supportive and enriching environment. As we follow children’s interests, we are aware of individual children’s strengths and we plan accordingly to best meet their needs.

Are the children streamed by ability?

We differentiate learning in accordance with children’s abilities, however we do not ‘stream’ in the Early Years. We offer individualised learning opportunities tailored at the levels of the children. We understand that less able children are often scaffolded best by the more able children and that learning can be accessed by all if opportunities provided are open-ended.

How is reading/writing/maths taught?

In the Early Years we follow the Letters and Sounds document which provides a framework for the teaching of reading and writing. We use Jolly Phonics in conjunction with this, which is a kinaesthetic way of teaching children letter sounds for reading and writing. In Reception the teachers read one-to-one with every child, every week. We offer a reading workshop for parents to attend in December of each year to enable parents to support their children with reading and writing at home. We teach maths in small groups. We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and tailor learning to the individual needs of the children. More information on Reception’s curriculum and assessment can be found on the school’s website.

How much homework do they get in each year?

Reception has developed home learning opportunities in response to parent requests. These literacy- and maths-based activities are fun and encourage children to participate at their own pace and with parental/family input. We expect children to read along with their parents at home on a daily basis in both Nursery and Reception classes. We ask every parent to buy a book bag on entry to Reception and to bring their book bags daily.

When do they get given homework and when is it due in by?

In Reception we would like reading records to be written in three to four times a week by parents so we can have good communication about enjoyment of the story, technical ability and any discussions that may have been prompted.

Maths home learning packs are given out fortnightly from the Spring Term onwards. We ask parents to write in the maths home learning record to allow two way communication between teacher and home. We understand many parents are working, hence the two weekly space to complete. We also suggest that other parents who might want more frequent home learning opportunities can repeat the activity several times. Children enjoy repetition whilst simultaneously providing the opportunity for mastery.

In both Nursery and Reception classes children will be given a page from their ‘Learning Journey’ to complete. This can be anything from drawings and photographs or tickets from a show seen, as a chance to share experiences from home. Children are able to show their class friends their pages before they are added to their ‘Learning Journey’.

How/when can I talk to the teacher about my child? What times are available?

You can make an appointment through the office, if you need. You can talk to your child’s teacher on a daily basis (and their key person too), however, we also have termly review meetings to explore your child’s learning in more detail.

What format does parent consultations/ parent evenings take?

In the Early Years we offer ten minute slots which are open for carers of children to attend. They are short discussions about how parents think their child is doing and whether they have any questions about their child’s development or learning. We would report to parents how we feel their child is progressing and at the end of the year report on whether their child was in line with developmental expectations

What are the focuses of each term’s parents’ consultation?

Term 1 – settling;

Term 2 – progress;

Term 3 – end of year expectations

Testing

What testing will my child have to do in each year?

Reception baseline testing was due to begin in September 2016, but the government decided that method would no longer be used as a starting point to measure progress. The Department for Education has since announced that it will “introduce a new teacher-mediated assessment in the reception year from 2020 to provide a baseline measure to better track pupils’ progress during primary school.” We will provide more details on these developments when the situation is made clearer. More information on Reception’s curriculum and assessment can be found on the school’s website.

Extended Day

What’s the difference between Extended Day and After School Clubs?

Extended Day forms part of paid childcare available through the Children’s Centre for Reception-aged children and below. After School Clubs are for Year One and above. These can booked via the School admin office or Extended School Staff.

How much does Extended Day cost?

For details relating to extended day charges, please contact the Children’s Centre admin office on 020 7359 7628 as charges are dependent on numerous factors including a child’s age, your borough of residence and your family’s earnings.

Can I use childcare vouchers?

Yes, the Children’s Centre accepts payments through a range of childcare voucher providers. For further details please ask at the Children’s Centre admin office.

Who’s in charge of Extended Day and how do we speak to them?

Staff can be contacted by calling the Children’s Centre on 020 7359 7628. For queries or concerns, please ask to speak with a member of the Senior Leadership Team.

Is there Extended Day on the last day of half and full terms?

All term and holiday dates are published in advance by the Children’s Centre to support parents making childcare choices and arrangements.

Miscellaneous

When are assemblies and are parents invited to any?

The Children’s Centre holds a Friday morning mini assembly for all children including babies and toddlers. This music based assembly gives younger children the opportunity to come together to participate in a range of fun songs. Reception classes will perform a one off Christmas production in December for parents to attend.

What happens on Sports Day? What races will they do? Are parents invited?

Reception classes run a ‘Fun Day Picnic’ during which parents and children walk to Clissold Park for some parachute and ring games. They have lunch together and have a good day out!

Where would I find lost property?

There is a lost property box in the Children’s Centre. It is located in the atrium beyond the admin office.

Why are staff so strict about / focused on attendance?

Attendance links directly to attainment. In the Children’s Centre we promote regular attendance to ensure children have good learning outcomes. Irregular attendance can lead to disaffection and poor results.

If I have a compliment, question or a concern, who do I speak to?

Please review the compliments, suggestions and complaints policy. If the nature of the complaint relates to the children’s centre, please mark the concern for the attention of Michael Jarrett, Head of Centre. If the nature of the concern relates to a school activity, then please mark the concern for the attention of Juliet Benis, Headteacher. As the school and children’s centre work so collaboratively, if you are unsure who to address any concern to, please feel free to hand to either setting.

What eSafety measures are in place?

Across the entire provision, we have a robust safety policy supported by Governing Body input. For further details, please review the policy online.

How are gender issues discussed?

In the Early Years we provide books that challenge gender stereotypes, including stories such as ‘The Paper Bag Princess’, ‘Dogs Don’t Do Ballet’ or ‘King and King’. We support our equalities and diversity policy and recognise families of difference. We provide a balance of resources reflecting gender equality and will always discuss ideas of stereotypes if these arise.

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