Dear Parents and Carers,

Lucy Driver, Headteacher

Dear Parents Carers,

I think we can’t quite believe it’s the end of the school year already for our nursery school children. We feel this year has gone especially quickly, but know your children are ready for their next chapter in schools, equipped with plenty of resilience, a toolkit to help them be a great learner, and a strong sense of self and belonging. Similarly, if they are moving up to new rooms, we know they are connected and have a sense of agency here.

Celebrations from this year

This year at St Pauls has felt full, FULL, FULL.

Full of joy, laughter, learning, love and lots of remarkable experiences. Thankyou to the staff and families for making this happen.

Some of the stand out moments have been:

Enrichment and Out and About Experiences

Our Food Festival in the garden, Tan Teddy and parent musicians filling our rooms and garden with inspiring music; our visits out and about to our wider community, woodlands, parks and exhibitions all have been so creative and inspirational. Our partnerships with the Bristol Old Vic and The Bristol Childrens Kitchens both provide interesting and reflective learning opportunities for children, and its great to share that there is food exploration, growing or cooking happening every day now.

Children’s Progress

All your children have really thrived at nursery. Settling, making links, reaching out, taking risks and learning new and wonderful things. Their communication skills have developed, they can express themselves and they know they have a voice, in which ever way they want to communicate it. They have become super powered learners!

It is each child’s individual journey at nursery that ignites our thinking – they are unique and remarkable in their own way, and we learn something new about that every single day. Thankyou for sharing your incredible children with us.

The Team’s New Learning

This year as ever, we have learnt loads together as a team, but our primary focus has been on writing a St Pauls curriculum which we believe reflects our values, pedagogy, and meets the ambitions and needs of our local community. Have you seen our display in the corridor about this? Watch out for more information on our St Pauls curriculum next term.

We have also supported new teachers in our Nursery School. Congratulations to Imogen who has finished her first year of teaching on a real high, and to Ella who has seen her first year through at St Pauls. We are VERY lucky to have recruited such strong, professional, creative and ambitious teachers to our team.

Sarah, our lead for Eys2 has also done her own learning this year, quietly achieving a SEN Co qualification and will now be supporting the leadership of SEND support across our nursery next year. In this role she will be supporting Dilly – who has had a very steep learning curve as she has stepped up to be our SEND Co-ordinator. Maya is also moving into a ‘leadership lane’ to lead our Eys2 team. Thankyou all, for being courageous, stepping up, and being so aspirant for ALL our children.

Our New Regional Role

In November St Pauls was also designated lead for a Regional EYs Stronger Practice Hub called Bristol and Beyond. In this role we work across 8 local authorities to offer information and advice, networking opportunities and CPD to the early years sector. It’s quite an achievement – with quite a lot of responsibility! But we are loving the opportunity to work more regionally, learn from others, and share all we do, know, learn about leadership, practice development and setting to setting support. I lead the Hub, and now share the Headship of St Pauls with our own BRILLIANT Robin. Thankyou Robin for being such a wonderful co-pilot.

Communication with Parents

As yet we have not had capacity to redevelop our website but we hope you have started to find out new weekly Friday Message useful in keeping you up to date with things going on at Nursery.

Please continue to look at the website for our termly News from the Rooms, and any other important information.

Other Considerations

Despite the many announcements about an increased childcare offer for families and increased funding for early years settings, this is still not a reality experienced at St Pauls. Increased costs, pay awards, cost for supply cover to maintain ratios or support SEND caused by the national recruitment crisis etc are all stacking up, resulting in serious sustainability challenges.

As an example, the additional 15 hours for the 30hr entitlement are not funded at the same rate as the free 15 hr early years places. This alone causes a loss of £58k per year to St Pauls.

Because of this, it is likely that over the coming months we will be starting to ask for parental contributions for the ‘over and above’ consumables costs, and the wider out-and-about experiences that we offer at St Pauls.

We still also may be facing days when we are unable to find staff from anywhere to come into work. Not great!

We are not alone in this. Sustainability and staff recruitment are huge issues locally and nationally. Largely due to the gap between funding and actual coats AND the poor pay and value given to our sector.

We need families to start being NOISY about this please, contact your local councillors and MPs. Remind them that research states, time and time again, that it is the first 1000 days of a child’s life that has the most significant impact on outcomes in life. Urgent attention needs to be given to our early years sector, it is well known and recognised that high QUALITY early years provision is the most effective in narrowing the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children.

Families need affordable day-care to go to work, but it has to be of high quality and quality costs.

Starting Nursery in September

Many of you will be continuing to access nursery over summer. Please make sure you have read all your emails, letters etc and had conversations with people about September transitions.

We are starting and moving up a LOT of children next term, and want to make sure it is as loving, supportive and happy as possible for them – so they want to come to nursery and feel settled and confident to engage in everything on offer to them. Thankyou for your understanding with this

Goodbye and Thankyou

Some of you know that Paula has said goodbye to St Pauls today after 16 years. She is moving onto a role that simply pays more. We are SO sad to see her go, Paula represents the very best of St Pauls and has given so much to our nursery, please join me in sending her off with love and appreciation.

Finally, I just want to say an enormous thankyou to our whole staff team: lunchtime support workers, leadership team, admin team, baby team, site team, nursery school team, EYs2 team, SEN support team, and our Chartwells kitchen team.

Every year the job gets harder, the needs of the community more complicated, the demands of the role more stretched, but still you give it your all. Thankyou for sharing yourself, for being present for our children, for being great team players and for having such professional integrity and ambition. It is a privilege to work alongside you all.

Wishing everyone  a happy, healthy and peaceful summer.

Kind Regards

Lucy Driver
Executive Headteacher

Photo by Aaron on Unsplash

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