A small group of staff from East & Midlothian went to visit the schools featured in this short video at the invite of Grounds for Learning. The group included a teacher from Whitecraig Primary, and the team leader for a pre-school centre managed by Midlothian Surestart.. Whitecraig and two Suretart centres are now working with GfL to introduce natural loose materials into the playground. A P1 teacher at Wallyford primary is also working with a local artist to find ways of using different materials in their playground area – this time with an emphasis on recycled materials. Excited to see how these projects develop and hope they prove to be exemplars for other schools and pre-school centres in the use of loose materials for more imaginative play opportunities.
‘Music and Me’, a resource for Nursery staff, is the product of a process that began almost eighteen months ago in Preston Lodge High School. There, as part of a wider conference about ‘Learning, Emotions and Well Being’, Dave Trouton, a talented musician and composer, led a workshop presentation about using music to help develop emotional literacy in a teenage group. At about this time, too, the scoping of an ‘outcome pathway’ for readiness to learn in young children was being developed as part of the planning for ‘Support from the Start’. This process recognised that there was scope for further development of the role of music and rhythm to support language development in the early years. Sheila Laing, HT of Campie Primary School, and Education Department service champion for ‘Support from the Start’, then developed a proposal to pilot work in this area in a nursery setting and, if possible, develop a resource that could be used by all nursery staff, irrespective of their own perceived musical ability.
Many months later, a successful pilot of ‘Music and Me’ has been completed in the nursery classes of Wallyford and Whitecraig Primary Schools, and a second stage pilot in Campie and St. Martin’s nursery classes will start soon. Two key outcomes for ‘Support from the Start’ – improving readiness to learn (aspects such as active listening, concentration, turn taking), and improving emotional well being (for example developing self expression and emotional literacy) are addressed in the resource, as well as skills such as carrying out instructions, turn-taking and co-operation and collaboration. CPD in how to use the resource will be offered to nursery staff in all East Lothian primary schools early next session, alongside a roll-out to all primary schools. The resource has tried to address, among other things, real concerns on the part of the nursery children. Anxietyabout using the dinner hall, queuing, making choices, etc., when they moved up to P1 has been addressed through pupil involvement in a ‘Sound Story’ within the resource, and ‘Grandad Turnip’s Story’ helps children to discuss not only why it’s ok to feel sad sometimes, but also the importance of telling someone about it.
Discussion and active listening play a big part in the lessons. Feedback from the initial pilot has been very positive, not just from staff. ‘Is the music man coming back in?’ asked one pre-school pupil, just a few weeks ago.
Final word must go to Pat Holden, Principal Teacher of Primary Music Specialists, who, while delighted to have been involved in the production of this very practical resource that can be accessed by all nursery staff without requiring any specific musical skills, adds that he sincerely hopes ‘that this is aresource that will be well used and not just sit on a table in the music corner!’
Written by Mary Howie
The following link has a short vdeo of a Music & Me seesion with a voiceover commentary by at Pat Holden
Early year’s dental health is one focus for Support from the Start in Whitecraig and Wallyford. Part of this focus is to examine the current and ongoing dental health status of all three year olds in these areas.
Following detailed dental inspections carried out earlier this year on 3-year-old children seen at Whitecraig and Wallyford 33% of children were found to be affected by tooth decay.
These findings confirm that, although the majority of children have as yet no experience of caries, for some children the presence of dental caries is already well-established by the time they reach three years of age.
What is being done locally to address this issue?
- Local nurseries are getting an extra morning each for dental health promotion with new materials (see example above) and information packs for children and parents available.
- Tooth varnishing has been rolled out in the targeted areas allied with encouragement to enrol with a dental practice.
- There is additional dental health promotion work underway in playgroups and toddler groups and tooth brushing schemes in P1&P2
- Local dental practices are being encouraged to become Childsmile practices.
Wallyford consultation took place on the 18th May 9am-11.30am at Wallyford Community Centre. The invitation to participate in the consultation was extended to members of the wider community. The consultation aimed to engage members of the local community in identifying health inequalities within their area and to get them to identify key health improvements.
An assortment of health information and information on Support from the Start was also available through information stands and leaflets which participants took the time to read and many took information away. As an incentive to take part, money off vouchers, for East Lothian Roots and Fruits was given out.
The consultation was very informal being based on discussion and participatory appraisal methods. This seemed to work really well generating in-depth discussion whilst highlighting community issues and concerns.