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What is the purpose of pre-school?

(30 Posts)
FeelingLucky Wed 06-Aug-08 09:24:32

DD only 14 months so a way to go yet.
Have heard people talk about pre-school (which the government pays for?) but I'm not quite sure what it is. I also understand that it is for learning and follows a curriculum?

Sorry for my ignorance, but would really appreciate it if someone can explain it all in non-government jargon.
We're going to look at a daycare nursery in the next couple of weeks which has a pre-school and would really like to know what to look for.
Also, when I look at OFSTED reports, does nursery mean the same as pre-school?

feedmenow Wed 06-Aug-08 09:29:47

Nurserys tend to be for childcare, so if you go to work you send them to nursery. But they will cover the same curriculum as pre-school. And you can use the government funding towards nursery costs.

IMO pre-school (or nursery) are really good as ways of getting your child to interact with other people, children and adults, and get into a bit of a routine ready for school.

Not sure about Ofsted reports as I went on personal recommendation and was more than happy with the care.

seeker Wed 06-Aug-08 09:33:45

To give parents a break, or to enable them to go to work. Just like all other under 5 provision. And a lot of over 5 provision too. [cynical emoticon]

onwardandupward Wed 06-Aug-08 13:55:36

What Seeker said.

With the added bonus characteristic that pre-schools are a way for primary schools to extend their enrollments younger, so that they get more funding. (remember that legally your child does not have to be in education until the term after they become 5, but if they school can get them in at 3.5, that's an extra 18 months of funding+staffing they'll be needing. It's a good expansion tactic for a school.)

Seeline Wed 06-Aug-08 14:01:25

In my day pre-schools were called play schools. They normally only provide sessional care ie morning or afternoon sessions, occasionally they may provide lunch. They normally start at 2 - 2.5 years. They are OFStED registered and inspected, and the reports are available for all to see. In my area, children get government funding from the age of 3. Depending on what the preschool charges, parents may need to 'top up'. They also need to follow the early years and Foundation stage curriculems. Nurseries tend to provide full day care for children and babies whilst parents are at work.

Twiglett Wed 06-Aug-08 14:06:33

Nursery - normally paid for offers childcare from 8 till 6 (or extended hours) can be used full time or part-time. Tend to be privately owned profit making businesses

Community Nurseries - as above but more affordable, will have a limit on income for people using it

Pre-School - usually attached to a school, offer 2.5 hour daily sessions for over 3s paid for by government either morning or afternoon. Usually have to commit for full 5 days but some pre-schools offer less time

Childcare Vouchers - available from govt. for over 3s can be used to part-pay private nurseries childcare

lilmissmummy Wed 06-Aug-08 14:11:15

My dd 3 has been attending pre-school and just about to go into a nursery.

At pre school she attended 4 sessions a week (3 mornings and 1 afternoon) for about 2 hours each. She learnt social interaction, sang nursery rhymes, and basic learning through play.

We have just moved and we could not find a pre-school that we liked therefore we have put her into a nursery 5 sessions a week (5 mornings). The nursery that we are putting her into is usually a day nursery where some children go all day however they are OFSTED registered and follow the national curriculum exactly like her previous pre-school.

Therefore I think that the only difference between them is the times that they are open.

lilmissmummy Wed 06-Aug-08 14:14:44

With regards to what to look for:-

With the OFSTED report you are looking for an outstanding report- preferably with few or no recommendations.
In a pre-school you need to be looking for things that stand out. For example my dd is a handful (at the best of times (and thats being polite)) so she needs routine and structure. She enjoys colouring and painting, so that was high on our agenda. She also needs space to run around.

Is that any help?

ronshar Wed 06-Aug-08 14:15:59

My DD2 is at pre-school but it is with-in the structure of a nursery. So the under threes are downstairs doing all the things toddlers & babies do. While the over threes are upstairs doing all the free role play etc but with the added "bonus" of following a ridiculously thought out government idea of teaching. So they have to learn letters numbers etc. It is all done within a play environment.
My DD1 went to the same nursery and they both love it.
I think, but could be wrong that, all nursery/preschool provision has to be ofsted inspected and follow a national curriculum(sp) timetable.
The government do give you 2.5 hours per session but it is very rarely enough to cover cost so you will have to top up the fees.

Mostly look out for happy children, do they have access to a garden, what do they feed the children, how do you feel when you walk in, do they staff seem happy? Try to also drop in when they are not expecting you. Best time to get a real feel of the place.

witchandchips Wed 06-Aug-08 14:24:49

They don't have to follow a timetable or a cirriculum as such, they just have to think of ways of helping children learn through play

MadamePlatypus Wed 06-Aug-08 14:39:06

I think the government decided a few years ago that on balance it was better if they funded some kind of education for children not yet at school. I think the idea is that children starting school who have been to pre-school have a basic level of knowledge that may not be provided at home. A child who has been to a pre-school will have done cutting and sticking, sat in a circle to sing songs, done some very, very basic number and letter work etc. etc.

In order to get funding for over 3's, an organisation must meet certain standards and cover a curriculum set out by the government.

Of course, there have always been nursery schools and many children learn to cut and stick and sing songs without going to a pre-school . I think the difference is that nowadays there is funding available to people who can tick the right boxes. This means that many primary schools now have pre-schools attached and most day care nurseries include a pre-school section for over 3's that meets the governments standards, therefore enabling parents to get partial funding for their fees when their children reach that age. The term 'pre-school' would only apply to the bit of the nursery that met the funding standards, and I think the Ofsted inspectors often review the pre-school and rest of the nursery in separate reports.

mrz Wed 06-Aug-08 14:42:52

witchandchips from September all settings including preschools will have to follow the new curriculum when EYFS becomes statutory.

lilmissmummy Wed 06-Aug-08 14:45:40

I know dd has a booklet that is filled out to show that they are reaching some standard with the children and this is passed to her infant school along with her reports to show what she is capable of.

I thought this was a governement thing but I may be wrong

witchandchips Wed 06-Aug-08 14:50:52

its not a curriculum as such though is it?

see goals for emotional Development
1. Separates from main carer with support.
2. Communicates freely about home and community.
3. Expresses needs and feelings in appropriate ways.
4. Responds to significant experiences, showing a range of feelings when appropriate.
5. Has a developing awareness of own needs, views and feelings and is sensitive to the needs,
views and feelings of others.
6. Has a developing respect for own culture and beliefs and those of other people.
7. Considers the consequences of words and actions for self and others.
8. Understands what is right, what is wrong and why.
9. Displays a strong and positive sense of self-identity and is able to express a range of emotions fluently and appropriately.

mrz Wed 06-Aug-08 15:05:38

Yes it is a curriculum it replaces ECM Birth the three (non statutory) Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage (statutory) and he National Standards for Under 8s Daycare and Childminding. All settings must follow it whether Childminders, Preschools, Day Nurseries or school Reception classes.

mrz Wed 06-Aug-08 15:14:16

See ELGs for writing

Experiments with mark making, sometimes ascribing meaning to the marks

Uses some clearly identifiable letters to
communicate meaning

Represents some sounds correctly in writing

Writes own name and other words from memory

Holds a pencil and uses it effectively to form recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed

Attempts writing for a variety of purposes, using features of different forms

Uses phonic knowledge to write simple regular words and make phonetically plausible attempts at more complex words

Begins to form captions and simple sentences, sometimes using punctuation

Communicates meaning through phrases and simple sentences with some consistency in punctuating sentences

MadamePlatypus Wed 06-Aug-08 15:19:17

"Begins to form captions and simple sentences, sometimes using punctuation"

Surely this is once they are at school?

witchandchips Wed 06-Aug-08 15:19:23

okay i'm going to be really pedantic here. These are skills which children in nursery schools and reception classes should be acquiring. To me a curriculum would have to set out how these children would acquire these skills, something which the EYFS says specifically that it is inappropriate to do as every child is different.

witchandchips Wed 06-Aug-08 15:21:20

yes most of these goals are for reception classes.

Swedes Wed 06-Aug-08 15:22:01

Isn't it where they learn to say:
"mine" and "go away".

ronshar Wed 06-Aug-08 15:33:57

I was under the impression that the only thing they were expected to do was not physically harm each othergrin.
I was very swiftly corrected.

I had to go to a parents progress meeting. My DD is 3! The poor named nursery nurse was having a tough time because my DD is left handed, (yes I know poor thing), But because DD has started to use her right hand to colour etc it isnt fitting in with the rigid "evidence based" reports. I said to her that quite frankly I wasnt that bothered if she used her hands and feet to draw as long as she was happy at nursery.
I do accept that some parents want to know every little thing that their children are doing and learning, but at 3 & 4 I think that playing and being happy is more important.

ronshar Wed 06-Aug-08 15:36:52

As of this september the books the nursery have to use are changing again.
They have expected levels of achievment and strategies which the staff are expected to use in order for the children to be taught these levels. A little bit like a curriculum but not in name!!

witchandchips Wed 06-Aug-08 15:39:19

think thats just your dds nursery though ronshar. Think most just give you some photos of your dc holding a welly like a gun with the caption "?? is learning to use imagination and role play in his play"

mrz Wed 06-Aug-08 15:54:05

witchandchips says "to me a curriculum would have to set out how these children would acquire these skills,"

taken from EYFS


Development matters Look, listen and note Effective practice Planning and resourcing
■■ Move arms and legs and increasingly use them to reach for, grasp and manipulate
■■ The random marks young babies make in food.
■■ Talk about the random marks young babies make, showing them that you value what they do.
■■ Provide gloop (cornflour and water) in small trays so babies can enjoy making marks in it.

■■ Begin to make marks. ■■ Babies’ interest in marks, for example, the marks they make
when they rub a rusk round the tray of a feeding chair.
■■ Talk to babies about the patterns and marks they make.
■■ Encourage babies to make marks in paint or with thick crayons.

■■ Examine the marks they and others make.
■■ Marks young children make when given a crayon, a brush or other tools.
■■ Discuss with young children what marks represent.
■■ Give young children, who are keen to represent the same experience repeatedly, a range of mark-making materials.

■■ Distinguish between the different
marks they make.
■■ What children tell you about the marks they make.
■■ Draw attention to marks, signs and symbols in the environment and talk about what they
represent. Ensure this involves recognition of English and other relevant scripts.
■■ Provide materials which reflect a cultural spread, so that children see symbols and marks with which they are familiar, for
example, Chinese script on a fabric shopping bag.

■■ Sometimes give meaning to marks as they draw and paint.
■■ Ascribe meanings to marks that they see in different places.
■■ The marks children make and the meanings that they give to them, such as when a child
covers a whole piece of paper and says, “I’m writing”.
■■ Make books with children of activities they have been doing, using photographs of them as illustrations.
■■ Write poems and short stories with children, scribing for them.
■■ Support children in recognising and writing their own names.
Encourage the children to use their phonic knowledge when writing consonant-vowel consonant (CVC) words.
■■ Provide activities during which children will experiment with writing, for example, leaving a message.
■■ Include opportunities for writing during role-play and other activities.

■ Begin to break the flow of speech into words.
■■ Use writing as a means of recording and communicating.
■■ Use their phonic knowledge to write simple regular words and make phonetically
plausible attempts at more complex words.
■■ Attempt writing for different purposes, using features of different forms such as lists, stories and instructions.
■■ Write their own names and other things such as labels and captions, and begin to form simple sentences, sometimes using
■■ How children use writing to record things or to communicate, for example, Marcus writes “Marcus, fz (Faraz) and tm (Tommy)” on a
drawing of himself and his two friends playing together.
■■ Instances of writing for different purposes such as labelling the contents on the outside of a box.
■■ How children make use of phonic knowledge as they attempt to write words and simple sentences, for example, “I went to see fiyuwercs and hat to pc by the hut” (I went to see fireworks and had to park by
the hut).
■■ Act as a scribe for children.
After they say a sentence, repeat the first part of it, say each word as you write, and
include some punctuation.
■■ Encourage children to use their ability to hear the sounds at the beginning of words and then in the order in which they occur through words in their writing.
■■ Play games that encourage children to link sounds to letters and then write the letters and words.

being pedantic it certainly fits your definition...
■■ Encourage children to re-read their writing as they write.
■■ Provide materials and opportunities for children to use writing in their play, and create purposes for independent and group writing.
■■ Plan occasions where you can involve children in organising writing, for example, putting recipe instructions in the right
■■ Provide word banks and other resources for segmenting and blending to support children to use their phonic knowledge.

onwardandupward Wed 06-Aug-08 16:15:53

Oh dear Lord.

A curriculum by any other name would smell as, well, however that list smells.

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