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Pitmedden pre-school celebrates industry award

By Kirsty Brown

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There was lots to celebrate at Pitmedden School Nursery after the early years setting was recognised for it's innovative approach to indoor learning.

The nursery was one of a number of the 1140 Key To Success sites in Aberdeenshire which was trialling increased access to high quality early learning and childcare ahead of a proposed national roll out, with the aim of working out how to best to provide to the needs of families in the local community.

The aim of the Government's decision to increase the number of hours available to early learning and childcare is to "support emotional, social and educational development and contribute to closing the poverty-related attainment gap".

This vision of high-quality provision influenced Pitmedden Nursery's improvement priorities, which included the development of an enabling environment, family nurture and raising attainment.

Following positive feedback from both families and professionals, staff decided to enter the Celebrating ELC Awards which have been developed to recognise, reward and value practice and expertise across the sector.

It was a proud moment for all in the school when the nursery found out that they had won the Indoor Environment category of the awards.

The nursery's principal early years practitioner Claire Rennie said: "I am delighted that we have won the award for Indoor Environment.

"The decision to reduce plastics in the nursery and introduce loose part materials and authentic resources has resulted in an environment rich in learning opportunities where curiosity and exploration is promoted and staff and children take part in shared thinking, meaningful discussion and collaborative learning.

"The ELC Award is recognition for the efforts of the team, our shares vision and ethos, creativity and forward-thinking.

"This would not have been possible without them and the involvement of parents, carers, children, visiting professionals and the wider community that have all contributed to our success.

"We have found the 1140 trial in Pitmedden, when supported by a strong nurture ethos, has resulted in clear measurable benefits and significant positive impact on outcomes for children and families."

Celebrate ELC's Judith Simpson presented the award to Claire Rennie and Joyce Murray from Pitmedden Nursery. Picture: Phil Harman
Celebrate ELC's Judith Simpson presented the award to Claire Rennie and Joyce Murray from Pitmedden Nursery. Picture: Phil Harman

The awards are open to all local authority nurseries and funded providers in Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Moray, and to achieve the award Pitmedden School Nursery had to choose a category and explain how they work hard to make Pitmedden a great nursery with regards to their chosen category.

Two visitors then came to the nursery to see their work for themselves, and amongst the comments made by the visitors during their visit were: "It was obvious the environment was organised so that children's interests could be developed in meaningful ways."

They also noted: "Parents and practitioners were able to talk about the changes, why they happened and the positive impact they had on children's experiences and learning."

Celebrating ELC's Joyce Murray said: "These are team awards so it is given in recognition of the dedication of everyone connected to the setting.

"Every practitioner, child and parent, and even the wider community, deserves credit for helping get to this point.

"Congratulations on this well-deserved accomplishment."

Adding to this Celebrating ELC's Judith Simpson, who presented the award, said: "This is a very worthy award.

"The team here at Pitmedden have achieved this award because they are committed, knowledgeable about their children and families and how an enabling environment can extend learning.

"We talk about exciting, engaging, extending, exploring, enabling...this nursery has it all, and the children here are very lucky."

Mid-Formartine councillor Andrew Hassan, who joined staff to celebrate, said: "It was a huge honour to attend Pitmedden Nursery joining the staff, children and their friends for their celebration event following the Nursery's success in the Celebrating ELC Awards - well done to everyone at the Pitmedden Nursery."

Nursery staff celebrated with head teacher Janet Hill and councillor Andrew Hassan. Picture: Phil Harman
Nursery staff celebrated with head teacher Janet Hill and councillor Andrew Hassan. Picture: Phil Harman

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