Banbridge Nursery School

Banbridge Nursery School

/ Providing Inspection Services for
Department of Education
Department for Employment and Learning
Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Education and Training Inspectorate
Report of a Short Inspection
Banbridge Nursery School
Inspected: May 2003


School: Banbridge Nursery School
Ref No: 511-6238
Date of Inspection: W/C 27 May 2003
Number of teachers (including Principal and part-time teachers): 2
(Full-time equivalent = 32.4 hours)
Number of nursery assistants (including part-time assistants): 5
(Full-time equivalent = 30 hours)
Total Enrolment:
Number of children attending full-time:
Number of children attending part-time:
Average attendance for the previous school year: (this should
be calculated from the date when the intake is complete)
Percentage of children entitled to free school meals:
Duration of sessions:
8.45 am-1.30 pm
8.45 am-11.15 am
12.15 pm-2.45 pm


1.Banbridge Nursery School is situated on the LurganRoad, Banbridge and shares a campus with Edenderry Primary School and Banbridge Academy School. The majority of the children come from the town; the remainder are drawn from a wider catchment area which includes Loughbrickland, Scarva, Waringstown and Rathfriland. Approximately 6% of the children are entitled to free school meals.

2The arrangements for the inspection of pastoral care included the completion of questionnaires by the parents as well as opportunities for the parents and governors to meet with members of the inspection team. Approximately 60% of the issued questionnaires were returned to the Department of Education (DE). The response indicated that nearly all the parents were satisfied or very satisfied with all aspects of the nursery’s provision. Almost half of the respondents added written comments in which they expressed their appreciation of the staff’s work and the experiences provided for the children.

3.The school operates a mixed pattern of attendance with 52 children attending on a part-time basis; 26 children attend full-time. The governors reported that a decrease in the number of applications for next year may necessitate a review of the pattern of attendance.


4.The nursery school is bright and interesting. The existing space is used imaginatively to provide the children with a wide range of outdoor and indoor experiences. The planned extension, which includes a parents’ room, an additional quiet area and more storage, should facilitate further the work of the school. Displays of photographs and the children’s art work enhance the playrooms and entrance hall. Interest areas, supported by appropriate books and pictures stimulate the children’s curiosity and increase their knowledge of the environment. The school premises are clean and well maintained.

5.Relationships at all levels are good. The staff have created a secure, supportive environment which helps the children grow in confidence and independence. The staff value the children’s efforts, and they are given much encouragement and praise. The children are at ease with the adults and turn to them confidently to meet their needs, to share in their play, and for reassurance and support.

6.The children relate well to one another; they generally work well with other children, take account of their ideas and share materials agreeably. The children display a good measure of independence and responsibility; during the inspection, they choose freely from the activities on offer; many good instances of concentration were observed. The children help to clear away equipment and tidy the playroom; they know where the materials are kept and handle them with care.

7.The principal has worked hard, in conjunction with all the staff, to provide written planning for the work of the nursery. They meet weekly to plan and review the educational programme; together they have developed a programme of themes and visits, which reflects the interests of the children. The planning outlines a broad and balanced programme for the

children, designed to foster their all-round development; it takes account of all the main areas in the pre-school curriculum. The staff monitor the children’s progress regularly and they use the outcomes of their observations to help plan further activities to meet the needs of individuals and groups.

8.The play areas are laid out attractively at the beginning of the sessions and the wide range of activities help to promote interesting play. The organisation of the daily routines provides a valuable period of uninterrupted play during which the children can make choices and interact socially. The routine at snack time provides the children with regular opportunities to take responsibility and develop independence. The current organisation of the dinner routine in the full time session is resulting in prolonged periods of waiting for some of the children and should be reviewed.

9.The children’s language development varies widely; some of the children can express their ideas fluently; others do not yet talk confidently or clearly. The staff are aware of the children’s differing needs and use activities such as story telling and the use of rhymes to encourage the development of language. During the inspection, much of the interaction between the adults and the children was of a high standard and encouraged the children to observe, explore and express their ideas. On a few occasions, the involvement observed was less productive and opportunities were missed to extend the play and promote fully the children’s learning and language development. The prominent displays throughout the playrooms and the school’s lending library provide strong encouragement for the children to develop an interest in using books. The children pay close attention during story sessions and frequently browse in the book areas, quiet rooms or explore an information book during their play. The provision of a range of paper and writing tools generates a high level of interest in experimental writing.

10.The wide range of creative activities provided encourage the children to explore and experiment with different materials and tools; their paintings, drawings and models show both attention to detail and control of tools. The art work the children produce is used to make an attractive learning environment. There are frequent opportunities for informal singing and for listening to recorded music; the children have acquired an extensive repertoire of rhymes and songs which they clearly enjoy. The use of percussion instruments is promoting early ideas of rhythm.

11.During the inspection, the adults used appropriate mathematical language, in a natural manner, when participating in the children’s play, and promoted an interest in counting, matching and making comparisons. Early scientific ideas are developed appropriately through play with sand and water and regular opportunities for simple baking activities. There are well-planned opportunities for the children to explore materials, observe changes, form ideas about how things work and to learn about living things. Carefully chosen themes provide a useful focus for learning about the environment. Ideas about the different jobs people do have been incorporated into aspects of the play. Visits to a farm, for example, have helped the children to extend their imaginative play. The children’s experiences are extended further by members of the local community who visit the school.

12.The staff make excellent use of the outdoor area to provide a wide range of energetic play. The potential of this area is also exploited well to extend the children’s interest in their environment. The careful arrangement of activities, and the teaching of safe play, helps the children to gain appropriate physical skills and to use a variety of equipment and tools with enjoyment and confidence.

13.The nursery has in place appropriate procedures for pastoral care and child protection which are in line with guidance given by the Department of Education in Circular 1999/10.

14.The staff provide excellent levels of support for the children with special educational needs, while at the same time encouraging as much integration and independence as possible. Detailed records, in which clear and realistic goals are set, help the staff to address particular aspects of the children’s development.

15.The nursery has an effective programme of liaison with parents; there are meetings and written information to guide parents before their children start attending the nursery; appropriate settling-in procedures are operated. Regular newsletters, booklets and various meetings provide parents with information about the curriculum and encourage them to play a full role in the education of their children. The principal reports that there is a good response from parents to the programme of meetings and that they readily give assistance in the work of the nursery. In addition to the informal meetings, which occur at the beginning and end of each session, parents are invited into the school twice yearly to discuss their child’s progress with the class teacher.

16. The principal brings a high level of skill and enthusiasm to her work; she provides a good role model through the quality of her work with the children. She displays a clear sense of commitment to developing further the educational provision. Under her leadership, a collegial approach to whole-school review, development and planning has been established which is resulting in steady improvement.

17.The strengths of the nursery unit include:

  • the supportive environment which promotes strongly the children’s confidence and self-esteem;
  • the broad and varied programme of indoor and outdoor activities;
  • the settled and well-behaved children who play in a purposeful manner;
  • the many instances of quality interaction between the staff and the children;
  • the good communication with the parents and their support for the nursery;
  • the commitment of the principal to improvement.

18.Overall, the quality of the education provided in this nursery school is good; the needs of the children are being well met. The school can face future challenges with confidence.


Despite a recent extension to the carpark, the significant traffic congestion, at set down and pick up times of the day, around the entrance to the nursery school remains a safety hazard.



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Copies of this report may be obtained from the Inspection Services Branch, Department of Education, Rathgael House, 43 Balloo Road, Bangor, Co Down BT19 7PR. A copy is also available on the DE website: