Talking Head

Headmaster's blog at Newcastle School for Boys

August 22, 2013

Get the early years right and the rest will follow

Twice a week I have the pleasure of starting my day at our infants’ site on North Avenue.  It’s always a delight to see our youngest boys arrive for the new school day with such great energy and enthusiasm.  They clearly love coming to NSB.

I have also previously been chair of governors at an outstanding state nursery school that, like NSB, was characterised by the warmth and care of its staff and their ability to engage young children.

It’s often said that all great journeys begin with a few small steps.  This is just as true of the journey through the school years from 3 to 18.  As with any journey, it’s vital to set off in the right direction from the outset.  Otherwise, who knows where you could end up?

Children’s early learning experiences are key to their future educational success and even happiness.  Much is made of sending a child to the right secondary school.  However, at least as important are the first experiences of school in the early years – in Nursery and Reception classes.

We are particularly proud of the high quality of our early years’ provision.  This isn’t just our view.  Our early years’ provision was judged excellent by inspectors when they visited last term (hyperlink to full report on website):

In the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage), children demonstrate a passion for learning.  They excitedly participate in group practical activities that encourage exploration and investigation, and independently build upon prior learning in their own play.  They display high levels of concentration and a growing ability to think through processes to achieve success in their chosen activities.

They make very good progress towards the Early Learning Goals according to their starting points.

The chief inspector of schools in England, Sir Michael Wilshaw, recently identified that ‘the best provision was in school-based nurseries and school-led nurseries because head teachers can track the progress of children in those school-based nurseries all the way into Reception and beyond and make sure they do well.’

Children start to learn naturally the moment they are born and do this at a startling rate.  Their development is at its greater between birth and five than at any other stage of their lives.  The brain is the only organ that is not fully developed at birth.

Education of the youngest children has to be holistic.  Not only do they begin to learn to read and write and to use numbers – the essential building blocks of their later education – but they learn about themselves – their emotions and feelings and how to interact with others.

Positive experiences in the early years turn children onto school and learning.  The environment and interactions need to be warm and welcoming.  Children need to be able learn through play both indoors and outdoors.  They need to be able to initiate their own activities and experiences as well as co-operating with others and responding to teacher-led activities.

It’s also very important that schools work in partnership with parents to support children’s early years’ development and to accommodate busy family lives.  We value very highly two-way communication with our parents and are able to provide flexible wrap-around care from 7.30am through to 6.00pm.

You are very welcome to come and see our early years in action.  Please contact either 0191 255 9300 or to arrange a visit.