All about Little Cypress

‘Little Cypress’ is our Nursery provision for children aged from two to four.

Little Cypress is housed in a self-contained, purpose-built building on the Lower School site. The building includes a nappy-changing area, a dedicated area for naps if needed, a wonderful sensory room, children’s toilets, meeting rooms, a kitchen for preparation of snacks and meals, a grassed play area, a large playground and covered patios. The RIBA award winning classrooms are open-plan and are light and airy, ensuring a stimulating and spacious learning environment in which to thrive.

Little Cypress houses ‘Rainbow class’, our provision for two to three year olds and children can join us in the September after they turn two. If spaces are available, we also occasionally have vacancies in the January of the Spring Term. Our provision for three to four year olds is in ‘Gold Class’ (mornings) and ‘Silver Class’ (afternoons) and children can join these classes in the September after they turn three. There is also the capacity for children to have full-time places in all of the classes, from aged two, if availability allows.

Breakfast and After School Care (our Wraparound Care) also takes place in Little Cypress, allowing for a seamless transition for our very youngest children, staffed by the familiar adults from Little Cypress. The children are able to have a hot or cold breakfast and a home-cooked hot meal in After School Care, all cooked on site.

Little Cypress is led by Ailsa Chapman, the Deputy Head at Lower School, who also teaches Gold and Silver Classes for 2.5 days per week. There is always a qualified teacher in Little Cypress, ably supported by experienced teaching assistants. Rainbow Class is managed by Louise Shadbolt, supported by her Deputy Manager, Emma Trimmings and other teaching assistants.

How we organise our day at Little Cypress

In Little Cypress, our aim is to nurture our children and ensure that they are happy, healthy, stimulated and encouraged to develop to the best of their ability.

Children can arrive from 7.30am if they are attending Breakfast Club, or 9.00am if they are not. The children will attend for the morning if they have allocated a morning Rainbow Class place, a Gold Class place or a full-time place. The children who attend mornings only will go home at 12.00 noon. Children who have been allocated an afternoon Rainbow Class place or a Silver Class place will arrive at 12.15pm and will go home at 3.15pm. Children staying for After School Care can stay us with until 6.00pm.

A typical day in Little Cypress might look like this:

9.00am Children arrive and self-register (adults will also greet the children and take the register and check who is staying for lunch)
9.00-10.15am Free-flow access to the outside and children are free to explore the whole of Little Cypress. Adults will work with the children 1:1 for their keyworker time (reading and working on individual targets) and doing some focus tasks in small groups. These might include art activities, early writing, number and shape work, name writing, speech and language work, nurture groups, turn taking groups and so on
10.15am Drinks and Snack (Water, milk and fruit for Gold and Silver Classes and water, milk and healthy snack selection for Rainbow Class)
10.30am Group Carpet Time – story reading, discussions, early phonics, singing, number rhymes and counting
10.45am ‘Free-flow’ learning opportunities
11.25am Full time children go to lunch in the main school hall/outside learning for part-time morning children
11.50am Gold Class and Rainbow Class morning only children – Carpet Time

12.00 noon Morning children go home

12.15pm Afternoon children arrive and self-register. Outside play for all children
12.30pm Free-flow access to the outside and children are free to explore the whole of Little Cypress. Adults will work with the children 1:1 for their keyworker time (reading and working on individual targets) and doing some focus tasks in small groups. These might include art activities, early writing, number and shape work, name writing, speech and language work, nurture groups, turn taking groups and so on
1.30pm Group Carpet Time – story reading, discussions, early phonics, singing, number rhymes and counting
1.45pm Drinks and Snack (Water, milk and fruit for Gold and Silver Classes and water, milk and healthy snack selection for Rainbow Class)
2.00pm Free-flow learning opportunities
3.15pm Home time for afternoon and full-time children if not going to After School Care

6.00pm After School Care closes

Our day is flexible and timings will change depending on learning opportunities that arise, the interests of the children, visits to our on-site Forest School or Adventure Playground and so on

How we organise our learning at Little Cypress

Children learning and developing to the best of the their potential is at the heart of everything we do in Little Cypress. We understand that children are individuals and come to us with their own interests, strengths and personalities. We aim to nurture all our children and ensure that the foundations of their educational journey are solid. We recognise that each child is unique and learns in a complex way and our experienced staff will observe each child closely and see the best way to take their learning forward.

In the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’ – Nursery and Reception classes), practitioners follow the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage, a document which sets the standard for learning, development and care for children from birth to five. There are seven Areas of Learning which are followed, all of which have equal weighting in terms of their importance. These are sub-divided in to different aspects (in brackets below):

The Prime Areas:

  • Communication and Language Development (Listening, Attention & Understanding; Speaking)
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development (Self-regulation; Managing Self; Building Relationships)
  • Physical Development (Gross Motor Skills; Fine Motor Skills)

Specific Areas:

  • Literacy (Comprehension; Word Reading; Writing)
  • Mathematics (Number; Numerical Patterns)
  • Understanding the World (Past and Present; People, culture & Communities; The Natural World)
  • Expressive Arts and Design (Creating with Materials; Being Imaginative & Expressive)

Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) are an important element in the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment.  Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning identified by the EYFS are:

  • Playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
  • Active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
  • Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

The focus of the CoEL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoEL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction may have a very different, and perhaps less positive, attitude about learning later on in life.

The staff in Little Cypress plan the learning carefully, ensuring that all the seven areas of Learning are covered both inside and outside in terms of what opportunities are offered. Activities are altered or changed according to the interests of the children.

Children are able to work in small or large groups and will also have dedicated 1:1 time over the week with their named Keyworker. This Keyworker is the first port of call for parental queries regarding their child and we hope that a mutually beneficial relationship and dialogue will evolve between parents/carers, both in person and through the reading diaries, where individual targets will be set out for each child and changed or adapted within three weeks.

How we keep parents informed at Little Cypress

At Little Cypress we appreciate the vital role that parents/carers play in their child’s learning journey. As the first and most enduring educator, parents/carers know their child the best and as practitioners, we value your input in to each child’s learning and development.

We have daily conversations with parents/carers at drop-off and collection and most day-to-day feedback or any issues arising that day would be discussed in this informal manner. Each child has a reading diary which details the targets we are working on with each child and how they got on with their shared reading. Each child has a set reading day with their Keyworker and their diary will be updated weekly. We encourage an ongoing dialogue with parents/carers and love to hear how the children are getting on at home. The reading diary can also be used for parents/carers to ask teachers/teaching assistants questions, especially for those whose children attend Breakfast or After School Care and may not see the Little Cypress staff on a day to day basis. Any queries can also be sent via email to the school office or a telephone call.

Any first aid incidents would be conveyed to parents/carers via a ‘pink slip’ sent home, detailing the nature of the injury and any treatment given. A phone call would be made for any head injuries, facial injuries or anything deemed more serious than a graze or small cut.

There are Parent/Teacher Consultation Meetings each term, giving both parents/carers and teachers/managers an opportunity to discuss each child in more detail. Parents/Carers are also invited in to Little Cypress each term to look at their child’s work folders and talk to their child about their learning.

Weekly news items on the Pegasus Academy Trust website help to keep everyone updated as to the current themes and interests of that week and include photographs of children’s learning in action.

All Little Cypress staff observe the children closely and record these observations and photographs on an online system called ‘Evidence Me’. This allows staff to see which Areas of Learning the children are covering and in which developmental age band, therefore highlighting any ‘gaps’, enabling future planning to assist children in plugging such gaps.

Parents/carers are invited to Little Cypress events during the year, including Christmas singing and our end of year Superhero Fashion Show.

How do children at Little Cypress interact with other children at the school

The children in Little Cypress have plenty of opportunities to interact with other children at the school. The Breakfast and After School Care includes children in Reception, Year 1 and 2, so they get to mix with siblings and other children daily in these provisions.

Rainbows and Nursery children have their lunch in the main hall of the school and therefore get to see school staff and other year groups on a daily basis. The Little Cypress children use the school hall on occasion for physical activity. In the summer months, the children will often join our other year groups for outside play and will see and interact with children also playing outside.

The PTFA organise many events such as cake sales, Winter, Spring and Summer Fairs, book fairs and so on, to which all the children are invited.

Children from other classes will often ‘buddy’ up with the Little Cypress children and come and read with them. For example, year 6 children might come down to Little Cypress and read stories to the younger children, an experience they all seem to enjoy.

In the summer term, there are opportunities for the Gold and Silver Class children to visit their new reception classes and get a flavour for the main school.

First published on 27th April, 2021 and modified 10th May, 2021

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