“Throughout the centre, the team found well-displayed traces of the children’s project and artwork (no cartoon figures coloured in!). Books were an important resource and were well used. Children were not limited to one room, but could go to other rooms to work or play if they wished. The staff had created a visiting cards system to keep an unobtrusive eye on where children were going.
In each of the classrooms the Review Team could see children following their interest, working and playing in small groups and being actively involved. There were real tools for children to use. We saw one boy repairing an oven with a hammer in a very concentrated way. There was another group of children examining spiders with a magnifying glass. We also saw the teachers encouraging children to take initiatives and to collaborate with each other. The children were not cosseted, but given genuine freedom to choose. Through dialogue with their teachers, these choices are then transformed into purposeful activities.
Like the other examples of good practice that we saw, there was a very dedicated director, who put considerable emphasis on in-service training, staff discussion and reflection time. The staff team set themselves goals, which are continually reviewed in the light of practice. The whole staff group meet monthly, with team meetings in between. They also have supper meetings, and have invited speakers. One notable innovation is the provision of a yearbook for each child, photos of the children alongside a record of their pictures and drawings and attempts at writing, interspersed with comments from teachers, all beautifully mounted in an album as a record of progress that parents could treasure.
The Review Team were much impressed by this effective, yet non-judgmental means of evaluation, and appreciated the enormous work undertaken by the teachers to make such records possible. The atmosphere in the preschool was warm and we felt a sense of community. Some of the staff had stayed in the preschool for many years, a fact that speaks for itself.”