Apples and Honey Nursery Annual Report 2011
Each year when preparing our annual report I have been delighted to confirm that demand for places at Apples and Honey Nursery has continued to grow. This year is no exception and the nursery is full for the forthcoming academic year with places already being taken for the following year. We are currently working hard to prepare for our next Ofsted Inspection which is due shortly and hope the inspectors will be equally as enthusiastic about our nursery as our children and parents are.
The success of the nursery has always been due to the support of the parents, staff and community as a whole. Last year, as ever, we had a wonderfully energetic set of parents who teamed up with the nursery staff and together organised some super events. Mindful of the fact that despite being open-to-all we are based at Wimbledon Synagogue, we were delighted to be able to channel back financial support towards the facilities being developed for the young families of the Wimbledon Community. The Nursery Summer Fair raised an amazing £1000 which was donated to the redevelopment of the Family Room. This donation was then matched when a member of the nursery and community was successful in having their company equal the amount. Cake making, face painting, hook-a-duck and even a second-hand handbag sale were just a few of the stalls on offer that day.
Another highly enjoyable community event was the 80’s disco back in February. Whoever was lucky enough to attend will remember a night of hilarity and dancing as nursery parents and members of the community boogied the night away to tracks from the (not so distant) past. There was a frightening amount of neon clothing and back combed hair to be seen as well.
The nursery places a high value on these community links and is also happy to support the Wednesday morning Baby and Toddler Group which continues to thrive under the guidance of the nursery staff, welcoming families with young children into the synagogue. At the age of 2.5 years, many of these children join the nursery and we are delighted that many non-affiliated families join the Synagogue in order that they and their children can continue their Jewish journey with their Wimbledon friends. In fact, 4 members of the current Council have been nursery parents and of our 11 heder teachers, 8 were either parents at the nursery or nursery pupils.
While the adults have been fund-raising and partying the nursery children have been keeping busy. They have just returned from Garsons Farm where they worked hard to harvest the fruit and vegetables for the synagogue Sukkah. They will climb the ladder and dress the sukkah in a shared parent and child nursery session. We always enjoy hosting our nursery Shabbat service in the sukkah, a very special time for the lucky Shabbat Host.
In accordance with the Early Years Foundation Stage we take every possible opportunity to use our outdoor space and with the support of one of our more ‘Green Fingered’ teachers the children have dug, sown and grown throughout the year. We are hoping to introduce an ‘Adopt a Pot’ scheme for the next year to enhance our garden even more. We cannot ignore the wonderful access we have to Wimbledon Common and regularly explore the open spaces with Tashlih walks, listening trails and Shavuot picnics all on the agenda.
In the classroom the children have enjoyed a variety of activities both in the morning and during the extended periods which take place after lunch. Our afternoon Literacy and Numeracy sessions have been joined by Science, Music and Movement, and Bible Story Study – the nursery planning remains as ambitious as ever. If you were to pop by at any time you may well see the children reading from the Torah, making helicopters, ice skating on bin liners and shaving foam, or using the hacksaws (supervised I hasten to add) to cut balsa wood to make cubit measures or hanukkiyot – we continually look for ways to stretch the imagination of both the children and the teachers! We are so fortunate in being able to draw on the richness of Judaism to enhance our curriculum. Throughout the year the children have explored all the festivals through a variety of creativity, cooking, movement, song, and construction. We have documented their activities in a ‘Footsteps through the Year’ display in the nursery corridor. Here you can see photographs of the posting of their Rosh Hashanah cards, the burning of the hametz (thanks to Michael for his help in managing the fire bin),and the baking of Shavuot cheese straws to name but a few steps on their journey.
Last year saw our continued support of Nightingale House where we make regular visits to the elderly. This is one of our very special trips and to see the delight the children bring to the residents with their gifts, dancing and singing is a real privilege.
The nursery staff have continued their professional development and attend many of the courses and Inset days available to us through the Department of Jewish Education and Wandsworth Early Years. We also welcome support from outside professionals who share their skills with the nursery staff and children. We were visited by Raphaella Sefaty, an Israeli children’s author who led a creative workshop with the children all about her story on the many things you can do with a button. Calanit Laufer, the Early Years Consultant at the DJE recently presented a photography workshop and the children developed their own photos and looked at the effects of exposure to light during photography processing. Rhythm and sound was made when musician and member Ed Spevock led us in a drumming workshop. We even had a visit from a dog and two rabbits when the children were learning about caring for other living things.
On matters regarding House and in accordance to our Development Plan, we had hoped to have finished installing a pedestrian gate closer to the nursery from Queensmere Road. Despite funding being in place the planning procedures have taken a little longer than anticipated but we are working towards a solution and are just waiting for planning permission in order to start the building work. The pedestrian gate will allow parents safer access to the nursery from Queensmere Road and avoid the need to walk through the main car park. The Nursery staff and parents have worked hard with representatives of the Synagogue to find solutions to parking issues raised by the Synagogue Council. Allocated parking for staff cars and the new guidelines on parents bringing cars into the car park has resolved these concerns. In my mind this positive spirit of co-operation is the only way to ensure the success of the nursery going forward.
We are looking forward to interesting times ahead with the possibility of a new Primary Jewish Free School emerging from the shared dreams of South London families and the nursery has pledged its support for this exciting venture.
As the Nursery enters its 21st year I wish to express my sincere thanks to the children, parents, staff and the wider synagogue community who continue to support the nursery’s vision of providing South West London with a Jewish faith based Nursery School open to all who may wish to access it.