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Whitehead Nursery Unit opened in November 2001 and is a purpose built setting in the grounds of Whitehead Primary School. It caters for 52 pre-school children attending on a part-time basis, i.e. a morning session (9:00 – 11:30am) or an afternoon session (12:30 – 3:00pm). Under the control of the Education Authority and fully funded by the Department of Education, all children attend five days a week.
The unit comprises a waiting/cloakroom area, a well-equipped classroom, a carpeted quiet room, children’s toilets, storage facilities and a staff-parent room. As well as promoting the development of knowledge, understanding and skills indoors, we place great emphasis on learning through outdoor play and exploration, very much evident in our “outside classroom”. It includes a wheeled toy area complete with various markings to encourage creativity, a large covered sandpit, a playhouse, digging/gardening areas, a barked area, grassed areas and a section dedicated to the use of large construction. There is also a superb range of both static and moveable climbing/balancing equipment to support and extend the physical development of all children.
Young children acquire knowledge, understanding and skills through play-based activities and make sense of the world around them through real and first-hand experiences. Through involvement in the children’s play, staff regularly observe and assess the children to inform planning and provision of a learning environment that reflects individuals’ abilities, needs, learning styles and interests on an ongoing basis. Consequently, the best outcomes are ensured as children are stimulated, supported and challenged at a pace appropriate to them.
Linking with our planned topics during the year, various educational trips are arranged to enhance the children’s learning experiences. These include monthly trips to the library, trips to the local bakery and Foster’s greengrocer’s and an outing to Streamvale Farm in the summer term. We also have visits from Jo Jingles, the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, the community police officers and Debbie Doolittle’s Animals.