The Cotswold nursery that's helping children develop through play and the outdoors

Prioritising play, creativity and outdoor learning in the stunning Cotswold countryside, the nursery at Rendcomb College prides itself on its family atmosphere and child-centred approach — SoGlos speaks to head of early years foundation stage, Kim Mason, about how its unique setting helps to prepare children for their next steps and beyond.

By Jake Chown  |  Published
Head of EYFS at Rendcomb College Nursery, Kim Mason, has praised the 'nurturing and supportive' environment the school provides for children in its 'amazing' countryside location.

With a focus on providing a safe, happy and caring environment for children, Rendcomb College Nursery in Cirencester offers excellent facilities, vibrant activities and the highest standards of care from its experienced early years team.

SoGlos speaks to head of early years foundation stage (EYFS), Kim Mason, to find out how the nursery works in partnership with parents to promote the development of creativity, individuality and self-confidence through things like outdoor learning and play.

Kim, can you talk us through the core values of Rendcomb College Nursery – and what makes it unique?

Our aim is to develop thoughtful, adventurous and ambitious young people by providing a safe, happy, caring and stimulating environment for children; enabling them to develop their capabilities as successful learners, confident individuals and become responsible citizens and effective contributors to society.

We prioritise the use of the outdoors through our Forest School, where children are encouraged to explore, observe, learn and develop. The children spend a great deal of time outside exploring the different seasons and learning about our natural environment.

We value play at Rendcomb, as it is a key factor in how children learn and create meaning. Our child-centred approach promotes the development of creativity, individuality and self-confidence. Our nursery class is a warm, friendly, inviting place for parents and carers too, where we work together by valuing your primary role in knowing, understanding and teaching your child.

Rendcomb prides itself on creating a family atmosphere – how do staff at the nursery help to achieve this?

We believe that when children feel safe and secure, they make great progress. Within the EYFS, the children are allocated a key person to ensure that they feel happy and safe in the environment. The key person is responsible for monitoring the child’s progress and informing parents about ways to support their child’s learning at home.

Our aim is to enhance the children's learning experiences by making them feel safe, valued and cared for so that they can develop into happy, confident and caring individuals. We want them to gain the values, skills and behaviours for their next steps in learning — and the wider world in their future life.

Talk us through the first steps children take on their education journey at Rendcomb.

At the start of the EYFS at Rendcomb, the children are assessed to ensure practitioners know the individual children’s starting points and are able to plan suitable challenging activities to support them.

The EYFS is designed to give children the best start to school life and to ensure they are secure, happy and excited about learning. These early building blocks will provide them with a good basis for the rest of their school life.

We work as a team to deliver a broad curriculum with opportunities to support individual learners. We believe that our friendly and engaging environment, regular contact with parents and sensitive relationships with the children will enable any difficulties that may arise to be dealt with quickly.

The nursery has a range of facilities where children can learn and play – can you tell us more about them?

Our EYFS areas are well-resourced and benefit from large rooms as well as multiple outdoor spaces.

During every session in nursery, there is a balance of adult-led and child-initiated learning alongside the structured activities. This provides the children with opportunities to develop their play, helping to improve their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being.

We find that child-led learning helps to develop the children's willingness and motivation to learn — and develops a positive learning attitude that supports learning for life as they move through school.

There are also plenty of activities which the children can get involved in – what are they and how do they help children develop for the future?

Children have the opportunity to take part in ballet, music, Forest School, French, cooking and yoga throughout the week. It is important to make sure that all of the activities are varied so that children can try new things and explore different interests.

Through play, children learn about the world around them, as well as learning skills they need. Our flexible EYFS curriculum is designed to allow children to develop the knowledge and skills to ensure their wellbeing now and success in the future.

Finally, what is your favourite thing about working at Rendcomb College?

My favourite thing about working at Rendcomb College is the children. Seeing the progress that the children make is one of the greatest rewards. From when students understand a difficult concept, to helping children learn a new skill, seeing a child’s eyes light up after grasping a new piece of knowledge is priceless.

I love getting to know the children as individuals and watching them grow and succeed. It is satisfying to see children progress both academically and non-academically as rounded people and future citizens.

The amazing location at Rendcomb is a wonderful place to teach and inspire young children and being a Forest School leader means I am able to make the most of the beautiful landscape.

In partnership with Rendcomb College  |

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