Leading The Way
Gillian Robinson of Netstar 9 Childcare talks to Helen Sanderson about preparing our children for school. Photography: Roger Moore
Netstar 9 Childcare is an award-winning company that has been leading the way in pre-school education and childcare in Lancashire since 2001. There are three individual nursery establishments across the county, Busy Bears in Preston, Summerfield, Lytham St Annes and School House, Blackburn.
Gillian Robinson is the area manager across the three sites and responsible for driving excellence. After showing me around and updating me on the fantastic facilities at Busy Bears, Preston she took time out of her day to tell me about the methods that are implemented at Netstar 9 Childcare to ensure our children flourish in preparation for school.
Gillian told me: “Our educational approach here at Netstar 9 is both child-centred and adult led. The child-centred approach allows children more freedom to explore their own interests, making their own choices and express their own ideas. We provide a balance of planned and spontaneous learning, ensuring our environment supports children’s curiosity, interests and learning.
“We deliver the Early Years Foundation Curriculum which is set out by the government. It is essential however, that every practitioner takes a holistic approach to a child’s learning. They work with the parents to gain a good understanding of each child to progress them toward their learning and development goals, with the aim of having them ready for school. For each skill that needs to be taught and developed our approaches consist of a blend of teaching styles.
“We have developed a self-organised learning environment where the children are co-constructors of their own education. Their individual learning and development plans are delivered, utilising a host of approaches. These include focused adult led activities, which are planned daily to support children’s next steps in their learning. These are necessary as it is a time when the child’s key person can really focus and support that child’s next step, tailoring the activity to challenge the child further in their learning. The floor book approach allows shared thinking, recording children’s voices and ideas which is then used in our planning. The children will sit with the practitioners around a large paper book and they are encouraged to discuss topics relevant to them and make marks on the book. The outputs of this type of learning creates the child led learning and spontaneous learning moments when a child engages in an activity which has sparked their curiosity and interest.”
The children’s environments are exciting and fully resourced to meet all their developmental needs and interests, spending time playing and learning. There are a range of age appropriate rooms, both indoor and outdoor facilities, which have mud kitchens and sand and water areas. Beach school is provided, mainly in the spring and summer terms, with Forest School facilities provided each day, where children are encouraged to learn about their environment whilst they play, get wet, muddy and learn.
Boosting the already very experienced team, Netstar 9 nurseries has recently brought on board another qualified primary teacher with Early Years Practitioner Status who is also qualified as a Forest School lead. She explained the importance of Forest School to me.
“In today’s society most children face way too much stimulus, from TV, advertising, electronics and even toys that flash or make sounds. Forest School is not a new concept, it really is back to basics. Children are being encouraged to get outside and learn about the environment first-hand, letting their little imaginations run free, problem solving, making dens, chopping wood, hiding in trees and understanding nature.”
Gillian concluded: “Together with our local feeder schools, we ensure our children are school ready, so when they attend on their first day, they are independent confident learners.”
It’s clear to me as a mum, with junior school age children, that the childcare provided by Netstar 9 is full and varied. It provides all children with a first-class education that is closely attuned to their individual needs and is delivered in an environment where everyone can succeed.
2a Manor House Lane
Preston PR1 6HL