Annual Statement Boldon Outdoor Nursery School

The Governors at Boldon Outdoor Nursery come from a variety of backgrounds ensuring we have a variety of skills and experience across the board. Governors’ skills are utilised well to match their strengths supporting the Nursery to evolve in line with current research and guidance.

Governors’ meetings and monitoring visits take place termly to ensure everyone has a clear oversight of operations. Smaller committees take place throughout the year which focus on developing the quality of Teaching and Learning, Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare and Leadership and Management to incorporate our key principles. Our Governors work closely with the school to identify priorities and develop a cohesive plan of action. They attend regular training sessions run by both the Local Authority and the school itself to ensure that they are fully up to date with any changes in legislation or initiatives. The Governors at Boldon Outdoor Nursery School have supported the school exceptionally well throughout the year through many changes.

Key issue 1 that faced the Governing Board during 2021-22

New EYFS Curriculum

As of September 2021, Early Years guidance was updated. A bigger focus was placed on planning a cohesive and enriched curriculum which is progressive and ensures that all children are continuously building on previous knowledge, embedding and remembering learning developed at the nursery. Childrens learning was observed through quality interactions and sensitive observations informed by knowledge of developmental ranges outlined in the Birth to Five Matters document. This became a narrative to be used alongside learning, documentation and floor books. Staff looked at what children could do, what they were interested in, what they needed support with, next steps in learning, how we would support this and the impact this had.

Assessment of the impact of the Governing Board on the school during 2021-22

  • All children made at least good and often outstanding progress from their baseline
  • Staff workload was reduced from previous years
  • Staff had the updated knowledge on how to support all children
  • Children retained new learning well and were able to use this learning in other areas of the curriculum
  • Children with additional needs were highlighted early on and next steps put in place promptly

Key issue 2 that faced the Governing Board during 2021-22

Recovery from Covid years

Following lockdowns and families isolating, it was observed children had fallen behind previous cohorts’ development, with many coming to nursery below or well below age related expectations. We were lucky enough to remain open for most of 20/21, but it was recognised that on arrival back to Nursery that many families had spent a lot of time at home which impacted heavily on physical development, social interactions and communication skills. Our youngest and/or new children presented with higher levels of anxiety and many struggled to separate from main caregivers because of attachment difficulties. Governors worked with the SMT to address these issues:

  • Enhance the outdoor provision, to provide more activities to increase strength, coordination, gross and fine motor skills. A new climbing tree was introduced, with tractor tyres and ladders to encourage and motivate children to access adventurous play.
  • A new indoor space was developed (The Nido)to provide a nurturing soft start for children to observe and transition into the outdoors. Governors challenged the Head on using the indoor space in this manner and were happy with the explanation that this was not designed as an area to provision, but as a secure base for anxious and (due to the influx of two year olds) often the youngest children to begin their session or come and warm up and then join back with the outdoor activities keeping with our ethos on learning in the outdoors.

Assessment of the impact of the Governing Board on the school during 2021-22

  • Gaps in learning and development were identified early and interventions put in place immediately
  • Children made good to outstanding progress from their baselines
  • Children were happy to be at Nursery, with minimal issues being left at drop off time
  • The School Development Plan ensured the curriculum was planned to meet the needs of our current cohort, to be progressive and ensure learning was at a level appropriate to each of our children
  • The new areas of the garden have proved to be well enjoyed by the children, used regularly and children are presenting with better core strength than when they arrived at Nursery at the beginning of the school year.
  • Staff fully understood their roles in supporting all children and
    knew each individual child exceptionally well

Key issue 3 that faced the Governing Board during 2021-22

Retirement of Sue Stokoe and appointment of new headteacher

Sue Stokoe, our headteacher of many years and founder of our Nursery ethos surrounding outdoor learning, gave her notice of retirement and left in December 2021. The governors worked very hard during this time to ensure we recruited a head teacher who would uphold this ethos of nature pedagogy whilst bringing their own experiences and new ideas to the role. Our new head began her role in January 2022. The governors kept a high level of contact with her to ensure she felt well supported in her new appointment.

Assessment of the impact of the Governing Board on the school during 21-22

1.     Children were well supported in the transition of head teacher. No difference was felt to their day-to-day learning as all staff provided continuity for them and therefore continued to make good progress and felt safe and secure.

2.     Parents and caregivers were kept updated at all steps of the process and have been happy with the appointment of the new Headteacher.

3.     The Chair of Governors has kept close contact to ensure the Headteacher has felt supported in the transition from her previous setting and promotion into a headship.

4.     The new Headteacher has worked hard to ensure that all policies are updated and has commenced work on a new website to fully promote the excellence of our nursery.

5.     The new Headteacher has brought new ideas for the future of the Nursery and has discussed these at every point with Governors before moving forward and putting these ideas into action.

6.     The Headteacher and Chair of Governors have additional meetings as and when required to discuss day to day running, teaching, learning and safeguarding.

7.     The Governors have also supported the Headteacher with financial issues after significant changes to the budget mid-year.

The governors in their role as ‘critical friend’ support and challenge the school, through careful monitoring of priorities for improvement. Impact is evidenced through:

  • Termly reports from Headteacher on progress and performance of the school. Analysis of school data / reports to monitor progress and achievement of children to ensure high standards are maintained.
  • Ensuring policies and procedures are in place and adhered to, including child protection, safeguarding and safer recruitment.
  • Performance management of Headteacher.
  • Monitoring the implementation of the School Development Priorities through virtual and face to face visits and liaison with SLT.

Moving forward, Governors will aim to improve to systematically meet their statutory duties and have a plan to check the work of the nursery so they can provide the most appropriate support and challenge to school leaders.