Developing Welsh skills through an imaginative learning environment

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Developing Welsh skills through an imaginative learning environment

Working hard to provide varied learning opportunities for children is at the heart of Ysgol Feithrin Pont-y-Pŵl, Torfaen. Staff encourage the children to initiate their own learning and provide them with the resources to aid development.

Number of pupils: 29
Age range: 2½ - 5 years old
Date of Estyn inspection: October 2013

Context and background to sector-leading practice

Ysgol Feithrin Pont-y-Pŵl is situated in St James Upper Church Hall in the centre of Pontypool. The setting welcomes children from two and a half years old until they begin their statutory education in one of the three Welsh-medium primary schools in Torfaen. Ysgol Feithrin Pont-y-Pŵl offers Welsh-medium education and the majority of children attending the nursery live in the Pontypool area.

All the children come from English speaking backgrounds apart from one child who has a Welsh-speaking parent. The setting has five members of staff who have many years’ experience in working with young children. St James’ Hall was fully refurbished in 2010 and all staff involved in the planning both inside and outside areas. The setting now has a large bright open hall with plenty of space for a wide range of exciting learning areas and an attractive outside play space with areas of hard surfaces, grassy banks, planting areas.

Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice

Practitioners work very well together as a team and take time to get to know the children well.

The staff use the wide range of children’s backgrounds in a natural way to celebrate diversity.

Daily staff meetings focus on what children have learned and planning for the next day. All children are encouraged to share and express their opinions as well as their likes and dislikes. Daily routines are well-established and children feel safe and secure. Practitioners have a close relationship with the families of the children based on mutual respect and trust. In combination, these features create an extremely positive, caring ethos where all children are treated fairly and consistently.

As a Welsh-medium setting, the main focus is on developing children’s Welsh language skills. The bursary achieves this by creating an exciting learning environment where there are a very wide range of stimulating opportunities for children to listen to the language and use their developing Welsh skills. There are daily opportunities for the children to explore and experiment in all areas of learning both indoors and outdoors. Staff encourage children to interact purposefully with their peers through the regular use of such things as board games and puzzles. Staff constantly listen to the children and review the provision as a result of their findings. Wherever possible, staff encourage the children to initiate their own learning and provide them with the materials to do this. Resources are plentiful and well matched to children’s interests. The nursery makes effective use of the outdoor environment using its natural landscape for imaginative learning opportunities. For example, the sloping grassed area provides excellent opportunities for the children to develop problem-solving skills by experimenting with things they can push, pull and roll. The tarmacked area provides a large space for parachute games and fun number recognition activities.

Impact on provision and learners’ standards

The team of staff ensure that they involve the children in all aspects of the setting resulting in confident and independent learners who are not afraid to try new things, including trying out their developing Welsh skills. The range and breadth of experiences means that children are happy and content in their environment and are keen to experiment, solve problems and be adventurous in their learning.