18 months ago, GreaterSport’s GM Under 5s team began some important work to improve children’s physical development at the Holyrood Nursery Chain which has settings across Greater Manchester. After attending GM Under 5s Physical Activity Awareness training, Holyrood’s Regional Early Years Manager Ursula Krystek-Walton recognised they were not providing enough opportunities for children to be physically active.
Holyrood knew they needed to focus on physical development to enable their children to thrive in this prime area and, therefore, all other areas of learning & development in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Following a successful joint application to the GM Moving fund from GreaterSport and the nursery chain, the small amount of funding of £3000, enabled Holyrood to really focus on upskilling their staff to deliver rich and frequent physical activity opportunities for the young children. Having created a Physical Development Stars programme which enabled their staff to share ideas and learning through the networking days, meet athletes, and focus their minds on promoting physical development, Bertram Holyrood Nursery in Astley have now had a glowing Ofsted report;
“Staff offer a rich provision that provides superb opportunities for children's physical development. Children are actively engaged indoors and outdoors every day. All children participate in exercise sessions to focus and prepare them for learning. They demonstrate excellent understanding for their age, knowing to be mindful of others as they play and use space and resources safely. Children complete their own risk assessments supporting their understanding of how to keep themselves safe. They harvest fruits and vegetables that they have grown and use these at mealtimes, discussing the importance of healthy eating. Staff are wonderful role models for children, demonstrating polite, friendly and patient behaviour. Children relish the responsibilities they are given and their behaviour is exemplary.”
Sharon Skade, Under 5s Training & Development Officer says “This has been an amazing transformation within the nursery. After our Physical Activity Awareness training, Ursula (Regional Early Years Manager), and Amy (Manager), recognised they were not providing enough opportunities for children to be physically active and needed to focus on this area to enable their children to thrive in physical development and all other areas of learning and development. With support from ourselves, they now have Physical Development Champions in all North West nurseries and meet up 3 times a year to network and share learning.”
“They are constantly looking to develop as practitioners and provide innovative and imaginative environments, enabling children to have autonomy in their Physically Active Play. There is a whole team approach to this initiative across all 13 North West nurseries with support from Directors and Regional Managers and it highlights what can be achieved with drive, vision and a small amount of funding across all nurseries with 2,000 children on roll. The legacy and sustainability of this initiative will impact on future cohorts of children and ultimately make a difference”.
Ursula Krystek-Walton, Early Years Regional Manager, has also been monitoring children’s progress within the Early Years Foundation Stage through analysis of the cohort tracking carried out by managers, and has found that 18 months on, Physical Development stands out consistently as the area that children make good and rapid progress in.
Ursula says “This programme has been a real success; we have learnt so much and have found it easy to incorporate so much more activity into our daily routines, which has had such a positive impact on children and, indeed, our practitioners. We simply had to change the way we looked at our practice. We still have a way to go to reach our long term goal but knowing we are already making a real difference to children’s health and wellbeing and, as a result, their futures…is a wonderful privilege.”
Click here if you want to find out more about implementing the Physical Development Champion Programme in your organisation.
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