On a beautiful sunny March morning, the ‘Rising Five’ children enjoyed walking to Church Farm to see the lambs, by very kind invitation of Debbie and Gary Miller. Accompanied by parents, a grandparent and staff the children talked all the way about what they saw as they passed by.
At the farm the children saw lambs, ewes and rams and particularly enjoyed taking digital photographs of them to look at again upon our return. As an added bonus children were able to walk along the field, adjacent to the River Stour, to see all the swans nesting. The children loved being able to run in the field. Spring was definitely in the air! We found some sheep’s wool on the fencing which we took back to Pre-School to investigate.
Over subsequent pre-school sessions, we planned lots of follow-up activities for children including making ‘a book’ using the photos they had taken, showing what they had learned and had particularly enjoyed; making ‘maps’ showing how we got to the farm; exploring how wool is used; reading books about sheep and farming; washing the wool, they even dyed it pink; and making wool collages.
Judging by how involved the children were and listening to their excited discussions, the children enjoyed this opportunity for active, hands-on, learning and we are, as always, extremely grateful to Debbie and Gary.
Sturminster Marshall Pre-School has just gained a glowing OFSTED report and can move forward to improve our services and maintain the high standard for the next inspection in 2010.
A copy of the report is here. (as a pdf)
Local Network Fund Grant Update.
In January, the committee were informed they had been granted funds by the Local Network Fund, to improve conditions in the playground. The staff and parents were consulted, as well as gaining advice from education and playground companies. As a result, the plans have developed and are at East Dorset District Council for planning permission.
The playground, in its current state, is a bare rectangle of tarmac, backing onto an industrial estate. The site is to the rear of the First School, behind several other out-buildings and the swimming pool. It lacks creativity and the ability to encourage educational play, but more importantly, it does not provide a safe environment for the children. The following elements would overcome these issues:
Fencing. Currently the playground is surrounded by a 2m wire fencing. If we enclose the area with additional close boarded wooden fencing, we can screen out the problems of noise, pollution, traffic, dog fouling and public access.
Pergola. This would cover an area of 3 by 4 metres, giving a large area of all weather cover. This is needed to shelter children and parents waiting outside in adverse weather conditions, including wheelchair users and children with special needs. Likewise, it would provide permanent shading in the summer, under which the children could play, in line with the Sun-Safe campaign. Low level seating at the rear of the area would allow for quiet, resting time. Evergreen climbers would be planted and encouraged to grow up the structure, enhancing its appearance whilst giving further shade
French doors on the southern aspect of the building will provide easy access and ‘free flow play’ for the children between the classroom and the playground. This would allow the staff to open the field of education, giving children the opportunity to move between the classroom and playground freely. The doors would also provide increased light within the building. There would be a wooden platform and wide steps leading down to the playground level.
A playhouse, with veranda, will provide an area for imaginative play and sensory elements will give an area particularly useful for the children with special educational needs.
Shelter. The door on the eastern aspect of the building is being replaced, using the DDA grant. Within those funds, there is provision for a shelter along the ramp and over the doorway, allowing more comfortable access for wheelchair users.
Sturminster Marshall Pre-School recently applied for a grant to help us with opening up the Pre-School room to improve our facility. This has now been done and our Chairperson and a member of the staff went to Hall & Wodehouse to collect a cheque...
"It was a super and really quite special evening on Saturday and Jan picked up a cheque for £800 which was fantastic!!!!!
Of the 200 odd applications they made only 28 awards so it brought it home to me how lucky we had been. Moreover the speech given by Mark Woodhouse stated that they only awarded to organisations where a real need had been identified, rather than a 'nice' project so it was clear they felt we were all worthy recipients. The Judge who had visited us came over when he saw me and asked straight away if we had started to sort our walls out so he had remembered us and what we were doing.
The event really was good, nice buffet and half a pint of Tanglefoot, then a 45 minute guided tour of the Brewery. And such a community feel to it; makes you realise that we are working not just in the village but contributing to the wider comminity and, as the High Sheriff of Dorset said, to the county as a whole."