Puddleducks nursery, Monmouthshire, has set up an eco-committee including children, staff and parents to raise awareness about environmental issues. Children help to make the nursery more eco-friendly and have developed a greater understanding of their impact on the world around them.
Number of pupils: 41
Age range: 2½ - 5 years old
Date of Estyn inspection: November 2013
Context and background to sector-leading practice
Puddle Ducks is a day nursery registered for 150 places at any one session for children aged 0-8 years. The nursery also offers holiday provision. There are currently 47 children registered in the pre-school room, all aged three and four years. Twenty-seven, three-year-olds and 14 four-year-olds are in receipt of funded educational provision.
Puddle Ducks Nursery is in village of Raglan and serves a large rural area of Monmouthshire. The setting opened in September 2000 and moved to its present purpose-built premises in September 2005. Children attending the nursery come from a cross-section of socio-economic backgrounds and all speak English as their main language at home.
Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice
The nursery believes that practitioners have an important role in making sure that the young children begin to understand the importance of caring for their environment. They have several initiatives to capture the imagination and interest of the children in environmental issues.
The nursery has an eco-committee made up of interested children, a key member of staff and a parent. One of their first tasks was to work with the children to produce a bilingual eco-code. This code is displayed around the nursery, and included in monthly newsletters and on the nursery’s website. The children have also made signs and posters to remind everyone about the importance of switching of lights and turning off taps to save energy. The committee meets monthly and staff place the minutes on a parents’ notice board to make sure that they are aware of what the nursery is doing and what they can do to help. The notice board also contains photographs of children involved in environmental activities and up-to-date information about environmental issues. In the entrance, there are facilities such as a ‘Bra Bank’ and ‘Shoe collection’ to encourage parents, friends and the community to reduce waste, reuse and recycle materials.
The eco-committee works with practitioners to develop a range of stimulating and interesting activities for the children on environmental issues, such as, as litter, waste minimisation, energy, water, transport, healthy living, nursery grounds and global citizenship. These activities are included in the nursery’s planning and cover all areas of learning.
Every child has the opportunity to be a responsible ‘Water saver’ and/or ‘Energy saver’ and proudly wear badges to identify their role.
We use circle time to discuss the importance and impact of this role. These children walk around the nursery each day placing small smiley or sad faces in each room to indicate whether eco-friendly practices have been carried out well enough or otherwise.
To extend the children’s learning the nursery developed ‘The Little Planter’s Club’. This club established a planting area, vegetable patch, composting area, mini orchard and ‘bug hotel’. Children regularly maintain these areas, harvesting fruit and vegetables, which are sold to families providing money to put back into the garden. ‘The Healthy Living Gang’ have enhanced the menu, taught other children about the importance of healthy lifestyles and linked with the local community as part of ‘The Healthy Footsteps Walk’. The ‘gang’ have been part of the nursery’s success in the ‘Healthy and Sustainable Pre-school Scheme’. Both groups meet once a month and these groups encourage great teamwork and children’s confidence entrepreneurial skills.
Impact on provision and learners’ standards
The nursery has a clear sense of purpose with a strong environmental awareness. Our work on environmental issues has provided valuable opportunities for the children to have a voice, share ideas, explore eco-issues, build confidence and have a strong sense of belonging and understanding of their impact on the world around them. It has strengthened relationships with parents and the community and created wider links with a school in South Africa and organisations such as Walk the Walk, The Haven (Breast Cancer Charities), Concern universal and the British Heart Foundation.
One parent said, “My son has enjoyed being part of the eco-committee, his knowledge of recycling is quite extensive and woe betide me if I put something in the wrong bin!”
The nursery, along with the local authority hosted an Eco-schools training evening where other settings were invited to share good practice and watch a detailed presentation and power-point of how Puddle Ducks promotes environmental awareness. The nursery links with and visits other eco-committees wherever possible. They also promote good practice through their Website, local media and social media.