Our Kindergarten is a loving, caring and stimulating environment for 2–3-year-oldsOur new, dedicated site at 99 Herne Hill provides the perfect ‘home from home’ environment for our loving and caring expert staff to quickly settle your child and launch them onto a steep learning trajectory.
Since the summer term of 2021, our Kindergarten operates from our new, dedicated site at 99 Herne Hill, only a 3-minute walk away from our main site. The premises have been meticulously designed to create a uniquely tailored ‘home from home’ environment for what is the first educational setting for most children. In our large sensory garden, children can explore our sand land, mud kitchen, water play, climbing, as well as herb growing, composting, and more. From spring 2022, the Bach (pronounced ‘batch’, named after small holiday or beach houses in New Zealand) will offer additional multi-use ‘tumble’ space and further opportunities for free-flow between the indoors and outdoors.
The environment has been designed to facilitate our play-based, child-led learning approach – giving children the freedom and confidence to explore, experiment and problem-solve. Our expert staff play a critical role in supporting extending them in all of their endeavours, through skilled interactions and strong relationships, on a highly individual basis.
Organisation and staff
The children are grouped into four small classes (Heather, Lavender, Rosemary and Sage), each of which is led by one of our expert teachers with additional support from dedicated teaching assistants. Together, they ensure that children receive an exceptionally high-quality education built on our ethos of Love ● Care ● Excellence, which lies at the heart of our provision together with a highly tailored and individual approach. We have a high staff ratio of about 1:5 to enable this.
Each Kindergarten pupil is assigned one of our experienced staff as a ‘key person’. While the teacher has ultimate responsibility for the children’s progress and development in their class, the key person plays an important role and acts as the main point of contact for parents and carers. They help settle the children and form a close bond and attachment with them. They also oversee the child’s individual learning through exposure to the most appropriate play activities and by tailoring their scaffolded interventions to the child’s age and stage of development.
Our Kindergarten curriculum is play-based and exploratory. Although it meets the requirements of the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), it aims to go much further. We regularly set and achieve ambitious learning goals through thoughtful planning of the learning environment and experiences which are tailored to every child’s needs, including extensive outdoor learning opportunities in the naturalistic play garden and the woodland area at our main site.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) education is a further important aspect of our Kindergarten curriculum. Staff collaborate closely to create a safe and supportive learning environment. Our cuddly Golden Rule toys play a pivotal role in helping the children to understand how to explore their own feelings, form positive relationships with others, appreciate diversity, and understand boundaries. These toys, and the rules they personify, feature daily in all aspects of life in Kindergarten as our role models for behaviour.
Progression to Pre-Reception
In the latter part of the academic year, the children are gradually introduced to our main site and its woodland area to enable smooth progression through our five-year continuous curriculum. Towards the end of the summer term, they are introduced to their new teachers and have the chance to explore their new classrooms too.
Children can join the term after they turned two years old, for full-day provision two to five days per week, term-time only. The days of attendance can be amended or added to on a termly basis, subject to availability. The school day runs from about 9am to 3.15pm depending on the class, with drop-off and pick-up windows of 15 minutes.
Over lunch the children eat a family-style hot meal in the classroom. This is prepared freshly on a daily basis in our professionally equipped kitchen by our excellent Chefs. In addition to the obvious nutritional advantages, the lunch service offers a number of educational benefits such as exposure to new foods and social interaction at meal times.
After lunch, the children who would like to rest can take a nap in one of our two sensory rooms, which transform into sleeping spaces with blackout blinds for this purpose. We work closely with parents as to whether or not their child needs a nap.
Kindergarten children wear a simplified version of our school uniform. Only a few items are required, and they can also be worn in later years in the Reception Cycle.
Not all 2+ year-olds will be toilet-trained when they join us, and this is not a problem. They are able to come into Kindergarten in nappies, and we have the appropriate bathroom provision and hygiene practice to accommodate those who are not fully trained. Our staff will work with you as the year progresses to support your child in their toilet training journey as appropriate to their age and stage of development.