"Report on the Inspection of Annahilt Pre

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Providing Inspection Services for
Department of Education
Department for Employment and Learning
Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Inspection of Anahilt Pre-School Playgroup,
Hillsborough, Co Down
(DE Number: 4AB-0431)
A Report by the Education and Training Inspectorate
November 2002
Anahilt Pre-school Playgroup is a pre-school
centre under voluntary management. At the time of the
inspection, a total of 34 children attended the centre; 24
were in their pre-school year.
The inspection is part of a programme to ensure
that appropriate standards of education are provided in
centres receiving funding as part of the Government’s
expansion of pre-school education. Eighteen of the
centre’s pre-school places are funded through the
expansion programme.
The inspection provided opportunities for the
parents to express their views about the centre. The
majority of those who responded were satisfied or very
satisfied with nearly all aspects of the centre’s provision.
Some parents included written comments, and others
spoke to the inspection team, praising the work of the
staff. A few parents were less satisfied with the level of
information provided about the educational programme.
The few issues raised by the parents have been shared
with the staff and are addressed in paragraphs 4 and 5 of
the report.
The staff have worked hard to make the
environment bright and inviting; the two playrooms are
organised into attractive areas which help to promote
purposeful and productive play. The children appear
happy and settle quickly to play. The relationships
between the staff and the children are good. The
children are at ease with the staff and turn to them
confidently to meet their needs. The staff intend to
review their settling-in policy in order to ensure that the
children make a smooth transition from home to preschool.
Relationships between the staff and the parents
are open and friendly; the parents are made welcome in
the centre. Twice a year, they are invited into the centre
to discuss their children’s progress. A variety of
methods are used to inform and encourage the parents to
play a role in the education of their children. The staff
should continue to develop the methods of
communication with the parents in order to ensure that
they are informed fully about the programme on offer
and the work of the centre.
The centre has a suitable written policy on child
The staff are aware of appropriate
procedures to safeguard the welfare of the children
within the centre. The parents are given written
information about the centre’s policy and procedures.
The staff work closely together and have made a
good start to planning the educational programme. The
activities are planned to provide stimulating and varied
learning experiences for the children. The short-term
planning identifies clearly those aspects of learning
which the staff intend to promote through various play
activities. The staff should now develop the planning
further to indicate how the children’s learning will
progress over the year and use the outcomes of their
observations to take account of the children’s differing
The early part of the session provides a lengthy
period of uninterrupted play when the children can
choose freely from the full range of activities and
resources available in both playrooms. The children’s
snack time provides valuable opportunities to develop
social and conversational skills. During the latter part of
the session, the children benefit from the opportunities to
participate in group activities involving stories, rhymes
and outdoor play.
The staff participate sensitively and skilfully in
the activities to promote the children’s development and
to extend their play; their involvement in all aspects of
the play is of a good quality. They show a clear
understanding of the learning to be promoted.
The centre’s programme promotes effectively the
children’s personal, social and emotional development
and provides satisfactory or good opportunities for
learning in all areas of the pre-school curriculum. The
points which follow illustrate specific aspects of the
The provision of many interesting and
challenging activities allows the children to make
independent choices and to sustain high levels of
concentration. The vast majority of the children
play in a settled and purposeful manner.
There are regular opportunities for the children to
develop a range of physical skills using a variety
of equipment within the centre and during
outdoor play.
The wide range of creative activities, and the
provision of a variety of paper and writing tools,
encourage the children to explore and experiment
freely. Many of the children’s drawings show
close attention to detail as they create simple
representations of people and animals. Good use
is made of the children’s own art work to create
colourful displays around the centre.
The staff give high priority to developing the
children’s language through skilful talk and
discussion. There is strong encouragement for
the children to develop an interest in books.
Stories are read to individuals and groups of
children at their request. Interest areas are
supported by appropriate books and pictures
which stimulate the children’s curiosity and
increase their knowledge of the environment.
There is good promotion of early mathematical
ideas through a range of play experiences. The
staff’s involvement, and the arrangement of
materials, encourage the children to weigh, sort
and match, to make comparisons, and to count.
During the inspection, the staff and the children
frequently used appropriate mathematical
language as an integral part of the play.
Early scientific ideas are developed effectively;
there are good opportunities for the children to
explore materials, observe changes and form
ideas about how things work. The purposeful
involvement of the staff during play with water,
sand and dough encourages the children to
observe and to predict what will happen next.
The use of some suitable themes and interest
areas, and the skilful development of imaginative
play, promote the children’s awareness of the
world around them. During the inspection, the
provision of materials and resources for the ‘vet’s
surgery’ promoted sustained play. The provision
of good quality building blocks is promoting an
interest in the development of early technological
The staff know the children well and have a good
knowledge of the children’s individual interests and
needs. A useful start has been made to observing the
children at play and the staff are aware of the need to
develop the assessment methods further.
Valuable links have been established with the
local primary school. The staff and children visit the
school throughout the year. Information about the
children’s progress is shared with the year 1 teacher.
The staff make good efforts to identify and
address the particular problems faced by some children.
The staff have identified the need for further training in
order to enable them to meet the needs of children with
special educational needs.
The centre is managed and organised effectively.
The staff work well as a team and have regular meetings
to review and develop the programme. The staff display
commitment to the centre and the children. They report
that the members of the management committee are very
supportive in developing the work of the centre. The
centre’s early years specialist provides the staff with
effective support and guidance. There is evidence that
the implementation of her advice is having a positive
impact on the development of the centre’s educational
The quality of the accommodation is generally
satisfactory and all space is used well. The centre has a
small secure outdoor area which is used regularly. There
is a good supply of equipment and resources. Parents are
encouraged to provide additional authentic and scrap
items to enhance the play programme.
The strengths of the centre include:
the happy, settled children who engage in
purposeful and productive play;
the development of the children’s language and
thinking through the good quality of the staff’s
the effective leadership, and the commitment of
the staff to providing an interesting and inviting
the variety and quality of the children’s learning
the lengthy period of uninterrupted play.
Overall, the quality of the educational provision
in this pre-school centre is good; the needs of the
children are being well met. The staff should plan to
address the few areas which require attention.
This report may be reproduced in whole
or in part, except for commercial
purposes or in connection with a
prospectus or advertisement, provided
that the source and date thereof are
Copies of this report may be obtained
from the Inspection Services Branch,
Department of Education, Rathgael
House, 43 Balloo Road, Bangor, Co
Down BT19 7PR. A copy is also
available on the DE website: