The members of the Board of Governors can be contacted using the school address.
ROLE OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS
As members of the Board of Governors we meet at least once a term during each school year. Additionally some members are on sub committees and may be asked to attend training courses run by the S.E.E.L.B., the aim of which is to help us carry out our responsibilities to the school.
It is our duty to appoint staff, to set criteria for the admission of pupils, to allocate the delegated budget and to decide the policy and curriculum of the school.
On an annual basis we also inspect the school premises and the equipment and arrange such repairs and decoration as are deemed necessary to ensure that staff and pupils have a safe and comfortable environment in which to work.
Principal Mrs Lorna Burns
Qualifications Diploma in Education for Primary School
Nursery Assistants Full time permanent Mrs Catherine Rutledge
Qualifications B.A (Ag.)
B.Tec. Early Years Certificate
Experience Leader Teconnaught Playgroup
13 years Downpatrick Nursery School
Part time (on a yearly basis) Mrs Fiona McAllister
Qualifications N.V.Q. Level 3 in Childcare
Experience 13 years Downpatrick Nursery School
Cleaner Mrs Pearl Mills
Mrs Collette Lowry comes in to serve our school dinners.
Mrs Burns attended several courses for nursery principals at the SEELB.
All staff have completed numerous training days as part of the:
“Pre School Capacity building Pilot project for special educational needs”.
Staff also attended a conference on “Engaging boys in the early years”.
We operate one full-time session from 9.00am to 1.30pm. A school meal is provided in the middle of the day. Parents are asked to pay for the meal but it is seen as an important part of the school curriculum as we all sit together and have the opportunity to practise our social skills.
There were 26 children in each session (and 1 child left during the year).
25 children left in June to go to various primary schools including Downpatrick P.S., St Brigid’s P.S., St Colmcille’s P.S., Legamaddy P.S., St. Mary’s Dunsford, Cumran P.S., and Our Lady and St Patrick’s P.S.
A visit was made in June to Downpatrick Primary School, which takes our biggest number of children. This visit was very enjoyable and we feel helps the children settle in September. Other schools had their own Open Days for the children, when parents took their own children for a visit.
The average number of attendances for each day from October through to June was 23 out of a possible 25, ie: 92%
Mrs Burns held informal interviews with parents in October to discuss how the children had settled. A more formal interview was held in February to discuss the children’s progress.
A Transition Form to be sent on to the Primary schools was sent to each parent in June with an invitation to come and discuss any comments with which the parents had concerns.
Comments about your child are welcome at any time. It is also useful to know of new interests, which your child may have at home as these can be extended in school to promote learning.
The children have a broad and varied range of play activities giving them opportunities for:
Playing with sand and water, dough and clay.
Building with bricks and other construction toys.
Art and craft, using paints, scissors, glue and various materials.
Doing jigsaws and other pre-reading games.
Using equipment to promote development of early maths skills.
Choosing equipment independently to direct their own play.
Imaginative play, dressing up, role-play, puppets and drama.
Physical play indoors and outside, with many fun challenges.
Gardening in all outdoor areas and planting seeds and bulbs.
The staff observe the children at play and make judgements on when it is necessary to join in with the children, to extend the play or develop language. The children learn to be independent, to reason things out for themselves and are encouraged to finish an activity before they start a new one. They are supported to work as part of a group and to share and take turns.
Our curriculum is developed through themes during the year. This year these included:
There was a daily story time and once a week each in Circle Time after lunch there was Rhyme Time, Educational DVD’s, Percussion Band, Ten Town number fun, and Music and Movement.
We had a focus each day for a few minutes on our Sound/Shape/Colour of the week using items from school resources. We also discussed our
Eco School topics and introduced the Media Initiatives themes using the puppets and their stories to promote tolerance of differences.
LIBRARY SERVICE Once again we made use of the central Library service at Ulidia in Belfast. The books from the Project Boxes helped to extend our themes and encouraged the children to talk to their parents about the things they were doing in school. We cannot stress enough the importance of regular reading together and talking about our topics with your child.
We asked parents to supervise the children to ensure the ticket is put in the child’s library pocket. A number of books were lost last year, so please look after your child’s book and return it to school each day.
We also have small library of child care books for parents to borrow. If there are any subjects you would like more information on please let us know and we will do our best to find a suitable publication.
Portulla Woods: We visited twice, by bus. In October we collected autumn leaves and looked for autumn colours. In May we went to collect bluebells. We are indebted to Mrs. Wheeler for kindly allowing us to continue to use and enjoy this local woodland.
Down Cathedral: We walked to the Cathedral to hear the Down High choir singing carols.
Downpatrick Library: We walked to the Library as part of World book day. We heard stories and sang rhymes.
Fire station: We walked to the fire station and saw the clothes the firefighters wear. We got into the fire engine and tried on the helmet.
Castle Ward: Miss Corkin came to tell us about Castle Ward and what we would do, as guardians, to help her there. We made magic flowers, did a seed growing drama, played fun games and got some seeds to plant.
Recycling: We went to the Recycling bus over at Down High. Rebecca, the Education Officer at Down District Council also came to us at school.
Castle Ward: We had three bus trips to Castle Ward.
1. The Farm – We heard stories about the animals and went to see them
2. Minibeasts and Wildflowers – We went for a walk to find them.
3. Planting out and Seashore – We planted up big tubs with some of the seedlings we had grown. Andy the gardener helped us. We went down to the shore to find crabs.
Family Fun Day and Prize giving – Many families visited on a Saturday to see a slideshow of all the activities we had done. The School received a Certificate of participation in the Community Guardianship Project for a continuous period of 9 years. Each child received a certificate and a “goody bag”. We are grateful to the Education Officer at Castle Ward for facilitating our participation. We are hugely indebted to Miss Corkin for organising such excellent learning opportunities and making every moment of every visit so special. We value her time and expertise given entirely voluntarily.
Dundrum Castle: We went by bus and saw and heard about ancient weapons and armour. We walked around the castle walls and the keep.
Wilsons’ Butchery: We walked down the street to Nicole’s daddy’s butcher shop. He kindly invited us to see how he makes his award winning sausages! We were each given a sausage to take home. Thank you very much to John Wilson.
Down County Museum: We went to have a special preschool tour of the museum. We all made a lovely fan.
VISITORS TO SCHOOL Feed the birds: Miss Corkin came in to tell us how to feed the birds in Winter. We made bird cake, built a bird hide and sang a bird song.
Mini’s Music: Elaine and Mini came to visit us each term with lots of singing, moving and playing.
Mummy Teacher: Mrs Brown came to tell us about being a teacher. She taught us some words in French and Spanish.
Baby Adam: Adam came in to have his bath.
Visual Screening Tests: We all had a friendly, easy eye test with Mrs. Robinson, funded by SureStart.
Zoolab: Peter came to show us all sorts of interesting creatures. We could touch them and we learnt interesting facts about them.
Community Police Officers: Two officers came to tell us what they do to help us. They let us hold their equipment and we even took turns to wear their hats; they showed us their special police bicycles. We also saw the lights and heard the sirens.
Butterfly Larvae: We watched the caterpillars grow very big, very quickly. They slept in their cocoons for a bit and then turned into beautiful butterflies. We released them into the wildflower garden.
Speech and Language Therapy: Aileen/Louise came from SureStart each fortnight to carry out speech therapy. This meant parents did not have to make clinic appointments and the children were seen in a familiar environment. Mrs McAllister continued to support her work in small groups every day. Claire came once a fortnight for SALLEY work.
A welcome newcomer to school was Tommy-the-Bear who participated in school activities and also went home each evening with a boy or girl from school. He had many exciting adventures with the children and parents were able to keep us informed by writing about his visits in his diary and by taking photographs using his own camera. This was an important link with the children’s homes and provided a useful tool to develop conversational skills. Tommy was raffled on Sports Day and now lives with Carl after his busy year in Nursery School. Don’t worry, a new bear has arrived to share this year’s adventures!
SPORTS’ DAY We had four exciting races, where the taking part was more important than winning. Two very closely fought parent’s races (and a toddlers toddle) concluded the day before rosettes were presented to everyone.
The day finished with a presentation of “My Year in Nursery School” books to the children with their copy of our DVD, a CD of all their photos and their new “This is me” booklet with a drawings and photo from each month of the school year.
The chair of the Board of Governors arranged a very successful bun sale for school funds. (Thanks to all parents for providing/purchasing buns.)
We had individual photographs done (and siblings were invited too for family groups). The school gains commission which goes to the school fund. The class photograph was taken later in the year. We experimented with using a local company this year, used by other nurseries in the area.
Christmas shoe boxes: We collected shoe boxes filled with suggested items and wrapped carefully. They went to poor children in India.
Pudsey Day: We all dressed in spots for the day. We covered teddy pictures with coins, made spotty biscuits and had a teddy bear’s picnic.
Habitat for Humanity: We had a visitor who told us the story of the 3 little pigs. She then talked about people who live in houses that get blown down. We agreed to help by saving our pennies to buy bricks to build stronger houses for them all over the world.
Diwali: We all made Diwali lamps out of clay and saw them all lit. We heard about how people celebrate Diwali.
Nativity Play: We had a large audience for our simple Christmas story in song. The children all “acted” very well and families enjoyed it.
Chinese New Year: We had been learning about the customs, singing a special song and practising eating with chopsticks. On our special day, we wore red, ate a special “Chinese” meal and had a dragon led parade.
Shrove Tuesday: We cooked and ate pancakes. We acted out the story of the enormous pancake.
St Patrick’s Day: We celebrated with everyone dressed in green and performing Irish Dancing! It concluded with our own version of the St Patrick’s Day parade.
Easter egg hunt and Bunny Foo-foo: We had an Easter egg hunt in school and a special Easter party snack. We took turns to sing and act out our fun bunny Foo-foo song.
Film Premiere: We had a most enjoyable evening in the school seeing “A year in the life of Downpatrick Nursery School” on the big screen for the first time. Much enjoyed by all.
Birthdays were celebrated by parents sending in a cake or staff providing something so that each child could blow out the candles and share the cake with everyone. We had “Unbirthday” celebrations for all the summer birthdays in the last few weeks of term.
CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Little Schools Big Bird Watch: We learnt about all the garden birds at school and watched them at the feeders. We checked their food every day and counted how many we could see.
Big Spring Clean: We had a visit from Down District Council to tell us all about litter. We went to the Grove to collect loads of litter. We keep our school gardens free of litter and reminded our families too.
Eco Schools: We continued to be proud of being an Eco School and visited all the topics although we were not applying for a new flag.
Best Kept School Competition: We were runners up again this year and won a prize of £60. We were disappointed to be runners up again but will try extra hard to win back the trophy next year.
Our Vegetable Garden: We planted many different seeds and watched them grow. We took home our own potatoes. We tasted salad leaves in school. We made delicious carrot and potato soup.
Our Wildflower Garden: Mrs Rutledge brought in some frog spawn which we studied and released into the pond. We planted new herbs in the herb garden and released our butterflies there in June.
Recycling: This is a very important aspect of the life of the school. We are proud to be a part of:
~ Collecting spectacles for the Lions Club to take to third world countries
~ Collecting used stamps to fund flying doctors in South Africa
We raise funds for our school through “Recycool” by collecting:
used printer/toner cartridges, old mobile phones, old CD’s and DVD’s
(Our thanks go to parents who organise collections where they work.)
We also raise funds (a lot this year especially) by recycling drinks cans.
We reuse newspapers in our art work, and cardboard boxes in our junk art. We use blue bins in all areas of the school. We continue to make our own compost.
Our new projects this year were:
~ Collecting plastic bottle tops for the Girl Guides to buy wheelchairs
~ Collecting used batteries for recycling
We were runners up in the Best Kept Schools Competition.
In October we invited our Speech and Language Therapist – Aileen Major to speak to the parents about communicating with their young children. She urged them to “ditch the dummy” with lots of evidence. She also challenged them to limit TV viewing and sing more rhymes and read more books. Staff launched their new “Chatterpage” idea to encourage communication in school. Parents returned their pages after half term and they were much enjoyed by children and staff.
Parents were invited in to talk about their jobs.
Parents were invited to a special Spring “show” of the Enormous turnip followed by the draw for our Big Fundraising Raffle.
Calendars: We produced a calendar with pictures of groups of children for each month of the year (creatively captured by Mrs Rutledge).
Tommy the bear: We had the traditional raffle of the school bear who was Tommy this year – won by Carl.
DVD and photo CD: Thanks to a lot of hard work by Mrs Rutledge, we produced a DVD of all that we had done all year. We also gave each child a CD of all their own photos of the year.
We are very grateful to Mrs Fiona Linehan for starting the “Friends of Downpatrick Nursery School” (FODNS) fundraising team. She and her helpers worked really hard in their first year to raise a large amount of money for the school through:
Our thanks to O’Rourke Play Equipment for their generous donation of the main prize for the raffle of a large wooden climbing frame; won by Maeve and Georgia Linehan.
We are indebted to Mrs Isabel Kelly for all her voluntary advice, support and expertise in our fundraising this year.
(Big Lottery ~ Awards for All)
We were delighted to be awarded a grant of £10 000 towards the new “Coverova” covered area at the front of the school.
ENROLMENT FOR 2011—2012
There were 28 applicants (and 1 late application) for the 26 places so the governors had to apply the Admissions Criteria. Mrs Burns gave a talk to new parents about starting school and there was an Open Day for parents and children in May.
The school is delighted to accept all children into school. Individual Education Plans are kept for those children with any learning difficulty. These are reviewed once a term with parents.
The school is committed to making reasonable adjustments and relevant and purposeful measures to provide for any additional needs a child may have.
Both the staff and Board of Governors review our child protection procedures annually. The safety of the children is our priority. There were no child protection issues this year. All adults working in the school have been vetted before taking up the post. No one is allowed in to school without permission from staff and all visitors must produce identification.
In the interest of safety parents are asked to inform us of any changes in persons collecting their children from school and to notify us if their child will not be in school.
DATA PROTECTION/FREEDOM OF INFORMATION To comply with legislation we have registered with the Information Commissioner. All requests for documentation from school must be made in writing and will be dealt with promptly. All personal data held in school is for school use only and will only be divulged to other professionals in the interest of the child. Your permission will be asked for before information is given to a third party.
SCHOOL WEBSITE The school website can be found at:
www.downpatricknurseryschool.co.uk All the photos for the year and the Art Gallery can be seen under the tab: Past Classes, sub section ~ “Class of 2012-2013”.
The Board of Governors would like to reassure parents that security is reviewed annually.
The door is locked at all times. The children use the sliding door for access to the toilets from the playground. All parents and visitors to the school must ring for admittance. There are TV monitors so that staff can see who is at the door. The steps opposite the public car park provide our main entrance so that children do not need to come through the congested staff car park. This has proved to very successful, with parents able to view more of our work in the garden as they enter and leave school. We have had a new self closing gate fitted at the top of the steps and we are to have a new crossing provided at a safer point across the road. Evacuation procedures are practised regularly through games. Fire drill in a more formal way is carried out once a term. In order not to frighten the children our main emphasis is on responding quickly to adults calling (or a whistle blowing) as such young children cannot be expected to remember instructions.
In the same way, in the event of an intruder to the playground, children practise coming inside quickly. Our playground is secure. The gate to English Street is kept locked at all times, with the key accessible to Staff. All other gates are kept closed. The children do play in the side and back gardens but only under adult supervision. We would remind you to close bothgates securely on entering and leaving the playground. All these procedures are reviewed regularly.
We want both children and parents to enjoy their time at Downpatrick Nursery School. If you have any problems or concerns we would ask you to talk to the members of staff who are here to help you. However, if for some reason, you feel that you cannot talk to the staff then the parents’ representatives will be glad to listen and bring your concerns to the Board of Governors. They can be contacted by writing to the school. Their names are at the front of this book and also displayed in the entrance hall.
Holidays for the School Year 2012 – 2013 (All dates are inclusive)
Autumn Half Term 31 October - 2 November 2012
Christmas/New Year 24 December 2012 – 4 January 2013
Half Term 18 - 19 February 2013
St Patrick’s Day 18 March 2013
Easter 27 March – 5 April 2013
May Day 6 May 2013
Half Term 27 May 2013
School finishes on 28 June 2013
There will be up to 3 further closures for staff training. These will be decided in consultation with the SEELB. I will let you know these as soon as possible.