Inspiring Little Learners – School Profile

It’s been Amy McManus’s dream, since she was seventeen years old, to open her own nursery. Over twenty years later and she is standing in Little Green Nurseries, in a brand-new building, conveniently located – especially for commuting parents – next to Clapham Junction station. But Amy and her team are anything but new, having decades of teaching experience behind them. In fact, Amy is very much a part of the community, often greeted on the street by children, and even young adults, who affectionately remember their first teacher, ‘Miss Amy’.
The Little Green Nurseries is for children from two-to-five-years-old. Morning drop-off is between 8am-9am, pick-up is in the afternoon at 12:15pm or 1:30pm, or at the end of the day at 4:15pm. It’s a small nursery for only 16 children when at full capacity. Its four members of staff work full time, and understanding the pressures parents are under, provide flexibility to swap days or book extra afternoon slots at a moment’s notice.

In fact, the team see themselves as an extension of the family, meeting parents to understand what is important to them and adapting their teaching accordingly. They can do this as each child has an independent learning plan. For example, the nursery teaches French, Spanish and German, but it will also incorporate languages the children speak at home into the teaching and celebrate cultural festivities significant to them.

We use a number of different approaches including Montessori, as well as special educational needs, using Makaton and sign language. When asked what their teaching style is now, Amy replies, “All of it. We take aspects of the best learning techniques and apply them to our teaching.” Many of the activities are child-led, helping children build their personal and social skills, communications and language, and physical and personal development as well as numeracy, literacy and building their fine and gross motor skills.

Outside learning is also very important, and the nursery benefits from a large outdoor space where activities are set up daily, so the children have a free flow between indoors and outdoors with water play and sand play. The children also visit York Gardens just behind the nursery, where there is a small vegetable patch and a mud kitchen to learn about nature, and a new wooden playground to enjoy. This is supplemented with external trips and this summer they were lucky enough to visit ‘Chelsea in Bloom’, for breathtaking floral displays, inspired by the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Amy and her team are always at the door at drop-off and pick-up times to talk to parents and stay in regular contact, sending them what they call, ‘Wow moments’ showing their children’s achievements. They can also help parents understand the primary school system and guide them in selecting the best options for their sons and daughters. “We ensure our children are happy, secure and confident learners,” says Amy, “so they are prepared for primary school, wherever they go onto next.”

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