Nursery ditches national framework so it can teach maths, reading and writing to younger children

Headmaster Mike Crossley reading to children in the nursery at Taverham Hall Preparatory School Headmaster Mike Crossley reading to children in the nursery at Taverham Hall Preparatory School

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
7:30 AM

A nursery at a preparatory school will become the first in Norfolk to opt out of the national framework for early years so it can teach maths, reading and writing to younger children.

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Teacher Ruth Fry with a child in the reception class at Taverham Hall Preparatory SchoolTeacher Ruth Fry with a child in the reception class at Taverham Hall Preparatory School

Taverham Hall Preparatory School’s nursery department will offer a bespoke early years curriculum from September 2014 – and retain funding from the early years funding scheme.

Headmaster Mike Crossley said the nursery discussed the plans with Norfolk County Council over an extended period to ensure they were satisfied about what it would offer, while still meeting the criteria for parents to receive funding for places.

He said the nursery school, which has 55 to 60 children on its roll, was only allowed to opt out of the early years framework because it had been rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.

He said: “We did not want to be critical of a framework that has served us very well. We just believe there’s a chance to enhance that for the children in our school and build on this, and offer a more tailored and exciting curriculum in areas where we can move them on a little further.”

Allison Skipper, head of pre-prep and nursery, stressed the earlier work on reading, writing and maths did not mean pre-schoolers would be sat at rows of desks studying.

In a letter to parents, she explained that children aged three to four would follow the Jolly Phonics scheme, which uses action and puppets, and they would be given the opportunity to learn visually some high-frequency words, which cannot be decoded phonetically, such as said.

They will also cover early writing skills such as the correct pencil grip, and formation of letters, using sand tray activities, tracing, whiteboards and pencil and paper activities.

Mr Crossley said the nursery would not take a one-size-fits-all approach, and only children who were ready to do more advanced work would do it.

Should nurseries do more to teach reading, writing and maths skills? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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