1.Tiny Tots Playgroup is a pre-school centre under voluntary management. At the time of the inspection, a total of 24 children attended the centre; 15 were in their pre-school year.
2.The inspection is part of a programme to ensure that appropriate standards of education are provided in centres receiving funding as part of the Government’s expansion of pre-school education.
The Quality of the Educational Provision
3.There is a happy, caring atmosphere in the centre. The equipment is set out attractively with inviting and challenging areas for play. Good use is made of many examples of the children’s art work, photographs and interest tables to create colourful displays and enhance the learning environment. The children’s play is generally well settled and purposeful; relationships between the staff and the children are good. The staff are quick to respond to the social and emotional needs of individual children and encourage good behaviour. The children are at ease with the staff and turn to them readily to share in their play and for reassurance and support. The staff work together effectively in the best interests of the children.
4.The communication with the parents is good. A variety of methods is used to keep parents informed about curricular matters and relevant events. When the children are admitted, appropriate settling-in procedures are adopted. The staff seek the views of the parents through questionnaires and a comments book. A number of parents have provided positive feedback to the staff about the work of the centre. The inspection provided opportunities for the parents to express their views about the centre. All of those who responded were satisfied or very satisfied with the centre’s provision.
5.The centre has a written policy on child protection. The staff are aware of the procedures needed to safeguard the welfare of the children. The parents are provided with relevant information about child protection matters.
6.The staff have made a good start to planning the educational programme using themes and topics to introduce a variety of interesting activities and learning experiences. The planning identifies many facets of learning inherent in the various aspects of play. The staff regularly evaluate the learning programme. They now need to use their observations of the children’s individual responses to guide the future work.
7.The daily timetable provides suitable opportunities for sustained play during which the children are encouraged to explore, and choose freely from, the full range of activities. The snack time and the routine for tidying-up operate efficiently and are used to promote learning. The organisation of the physical play session involving large equipment needs to be improved. During this session, there is inadequate space to permit the whole group to play safely.
8.During the inspection, there were many occasions when the close involvement of the staff in aspects of the play fostered successfully the children’s language and learning. The adults encourage the children to observe, to make choices and to explore their own ideas. The children are encouraged to use the play materials in imaginative and creative ways. The staff often participate imaginatively in activities to provide suitable role models and to extend the play.
9.The centre’s programme promotes effectively the children’s personal, social and emotional development. The range of activities provided offers satisfactory or good learning opportunities in all areas of the pre-school curriculum. The points which follow illustrate specific aspects of the programme:
- The children’s abilities to control small tools such as scissors and pencils are developed effectively. There are regular opportunities for the children to develop physical skills using large equipment.
- The wide range of creative activities provided encourages the children to explore and experiment with different materials and tools. The staff make good efforts to display the children’s art work around the room. Some children have begun to make representations of people; many of the children’s paintings and drawings show close attention to detail and good control of small tools.
- High priority is given to developing the children’s language through discussions, stories and the use of rhymes; many express themselves confidently in conversation. The children show an interest in books as they browse in the book area. Stories are read to individual children at their request; they participate enthusiastically, and listen attentively, during the group story session. The provision of writing materials in the ‘writing’ area generates an interest in early experimental writing.
- The staff often use mathematical language as they join in the children’s play. During the inspection, early mathematical ideas, such as one-to-one correspondence, measuring, matching and comparing were developed successfully through various activities.
- Through the thoughtful provision of equipment, the children are helped to explore the properties of sand and water. During the inspection, some of the most productive play noted was with wooden blocks; groups of children co-operated effectively to create complex structures which they used imaginatively to extend their play.
- The centre provides a good range of well-resourced imaginative play to extend the children’s awareness of, and interest in, the world around them. The children’s experiences are extended usefully by visits to places of interest.
10.The staff have made a useful start to observing and recording thoughtfully the children’s responses to play activities. Further development of the assessment methods is needed in order to monitor and record the children’s progress systematically and to assist the staff in reporting accurately to parents.
11.The leader is enthusiastic about her work; she manages the centre effectively and values the contributions made by her staff. The staff show commitment to the welfare of the children and to providing a good quality pre-school programme. They are hard-working and co-operate closely as a team. The weekly staff meetings are used productively to review and develop the programme.
12.The quality of the accommodation is generally satisfactory. The centre has a small outdoor area which is used when the weather permits. The centre has an adequate supply of equipment and resources which are of good quality. The toilets are some distance from the playroom.
13.The strengths of the centre include:
- the attractive and interesting learning environment;
- the range of activities and quality of learning experiences provided for the children;
- the good relationships between the staff and the children;
- the good communication with the parents;
- the many instances of purposeful and concentrated play;
- the good quality of the interaction between the staff and the children;
- the enthusiastic leader and the dedicated staff who work well as a team.
14.Overall, the quality of the educational provision in this pre-school centre is good; the needs of the children are being well met. The staff should plan to address the few areas which require attention.
Health and Safety
- The door to the playroom does not have a mechanism which would alert staff to anyone entering or leaving.
- During the energetic physical play session, too many children used the climbing frame at the same time. Some of the large equipment did not have adequate safety mats in place.