Ofsted Outstanding Nursery and Preschool in W12 London
Stepping Stones is an Ofsted Outstanding Nursery and preschool in W12. We believe that childhood, particularly the early years, is a very precious time. Our philosophy is that, in order for children to succeed and be successful in whatever they decide to pursue, they need to be healthy, happy, secure and have a defined sense of feeling valued.
As a nursery school, we have the privileged and possibly unique opportunity to combine our children’s natural state of development-that is, their genuinely uninhibited curiosity to explore and to ask questions without a fear of ‘getting it wrong’.
Through our planned teaching activities which allow children to ‘learn through doing’ and for them to feel able to offer ideas or explanations that value their own ideas, we aim to instil in our children a love for learning and self-confidence in themselves as individuals. Our over-riding aim is that our approach will help prepare children for transition to primary school and eventually for life. As teachers, we have a duty to instil in children a love for learning which we sincerely hope will stay with the children into adulthood.
Stepping Stones was established in 2001. It was initially located at St Saviour’s Church, Cobbold Road, W12, but due to its success and considerable increase in numbers of the children registered at the nursery, led to the purchase of a freehold property in 2009, giving the nursery a permanent and purpose built home.
We are currently registered to accommodate up to 89 children per day.
Stepping Stones is run and owned by Bryony Dodd. Ms Dodd is an experienced Primary teacher who has taught children for over twenty years, ranging from nursery age to Year 6. She has a B.Ed. (Hons) and holds a National Professional Qualification for Head Teachers from the London Institute of Education. Prior to opening Stepping Stones Nursery School, she was the Deputy Head of Fox Primary School in Notting Hill Gate,W8. She is the mother of 4 children, the youngest of whom left Stepping Stones in 2010 and is currently a pupil at a local Secondary School.
Bryony has utilised her knowledge of how successful schools are organised and managed and has applied this to a nursery setting. This incorporates her philosophy that a child’s educational experience, in the widest sense, and especially during the first five years of their lives, is a very precious and unique time. A happy, positive and value-led experience will therefore have a significant impact on a child’s success in the future.
Through the emphasis that we place on social and emotional development and through our belief that all children are individuals and should therefore be valued for what they have to offer, we aim to instil in our children a love for learning and self-confidence. This should then help to prepare them for their transition to primary school, where we believe that they should continue to thrive and succeed.
We are a purpose built nursery , specifically designed to maintain a ‘homely’ feel, whilst portraying a sense of the organisation that a school would suggest. We have four main classrooms and several communal learning areas. The children quickly become used to the concept of moving around a familiar building, as they will need to do when they move on to primary school.
We are proud of our commitment to, and success with, supporting children with a range of special needs. These can range from simple delay with certain speech sounds to more complex needs. If a child needs an individual teaching approach or education plan, Bryony Dodd the Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO), will work closely with the staff team and any external agencies, as appropriate, to ensure that the child is fully supported and given complete access to the curriculum. Parents are involved in this process at all times.
Stepping Stones works closely with parents and carers, providing regular feedback and assessment to encourage children in what they particularly enjoy, excel in, or to help them in areas they may find more challenging. Each Spring we hold an ‘Open Week’ in the Ladybird and Dragonfly Classes for parents to spend time observing their child in the classroom. There are also termly ‘Stay and Play’ sessions in the Butterfly and Caterpillar classes, when parents can come in to the nursery and join in with activities with their child.
We run workshops for parents, covering key areas such as ‘Developing Literacy Skills’ and ‘Behaviour Management’.
When we have children at the nursery who spend part of their week with other Ofsted registered nannies or early years providers, we make every effort to liaise with the setting or nanny in order to ensure that we complement each other’s delivery of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.
Regular coffee mornings are held for parents, offering an opportunity to informally discuss any matters linked to individual classes or the nursery as a whole.
The children of Stepping Stones Nursery are happy, well-adjusted and a delight to welcome into our Independent School. The staff’s nurturing and caring approach enables each individual child to thrive within the setting. Every child really does matter at Stepping Stones. The experienced team of teaching staff, focus on each child’s individual needs and support them to make rapid progress in both Personal, Social and Emotional Development, as well as the other Prime and more Specific key areas of the Early Years curriculum. Bryony’s extensive experience and nurturing approach touches every child in a positive way. She leads a wonderful team of experts and collaboratively supports every family within her school.
All of the children that have completed the smooth transition into Ravenscourt Park Preparatory School, have been very well prepared for moving onto ‘Big School’. They have succeeded in so many ways, before joining us, and I regularly hear parents in my school community singing praises about the Stepping Stones experience. The teaching team support the development of robust little learners, who are happy to take learning risks, ‘have-a-go’ at challenges and persevere as active learners. They come to us with good concentration, kind and thoughtful behaviour, as well as excellent exploratory and creative skills… they have obviously enjoyed learning through purposeful play. The nursery team effectively support the children’s development in gross motor and fine motor skills, which positively impacts their progress in their following Reception year.
Stepping Stones children love creating and thinking critically too; skills that the Nursery encourage over time in the Early Years. I would not hesitate to recommend Stepping Stones Nursery to any parent in our local community. Bryony’s wonderful team do a marvellous job of supporting their children to learn, grow and succeed on their learning journey toward Primary School!
I’m sure you must have many, many cards from grateful parents thankful for everything you do for the children at Stepping Stones but I wanted to add one more card to the pile! Cleo has really flourished during her time at Stepping Stones, has developed some wonderful friendships and has enjoyed every minute of Ladybirds – and this is not by chance – the fantastic staff create a wonderful, warm, nurturing environment which helps every child blossom.
Thank you so so much for the wonderful time that the boys have spent at your amazing nursery…the boys seem to have a genuine love and thirst for learning, from sports to French, music and numbers.
We could not be happier that we found Stepping Stones
Thank you for providing the best ever safe, fun and caring environment for Nicholas over the last years. Sad to leave.
I am going to miss Stepping Stones terribly but I really do promise to pop in. I wish you all so much success and happiness. And THANK YOU!
Dear Bryony, Antonia, Michelle and all the Stepping Stones team, Thank you! from the bottom of our hearts for looking after Sienna so expertly. She has loved every day here – and that is down to the wonderful nurturing environment you create. With all our love, Ed & Kirsty
Dear Bryony, as a member of the same profession I wanted to applaud your unique style of leadership at Stepping Stones. We could not be more delighted at the way you run the school and select your amazing staff, leading always by your example. We appreciate everything you have done to give Belle the very best start to her education – she LOVES learning! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. With love from Stephanie, Katie, Matt, Belle & Bonnie
Thank you so much for giving Caspar such a fantastic start in school life. He has loved Stepping Stones from Day one….
Our last inspection was carried out on 14th January 2013. We were graded as Outstanding in all areas.
We are inspected by The Office For Standards in Education. Ofsted focus on:
- How well the early years provision meets the needs of the range of children who attend
- The overall quality and standards of the early years provision
- The effectiveness of leadership and management of the early years provision
- The contribution of the early years provision to the children’s well-being
The staff provide an educational programme that is exceptional across all areas of learning and all age groups.
The system for assessing children demonstrates the excellent progress they have made in relation to their starting points.
Arrangements for safeguarding children are highly effective as practitioners implement extremely robust policies and procedures throughout the centre.
There are excellent systems in place to promote partnership working with parents, carers and others.
What happens each day at Stepping Stones Nursery?
The children are busy and active from the beginning of each session until they go home. Each class has a timetable that combines free-play with slightly more structured activities, depending on the age and stage of the individual child. The children have weekly music, yoga, french, outdoor learning and sports sessions, in addition to the Early Years curriculum that is on offer every day at the nursery.
The foundation of all successful teaching and learning, and child development, is the well-being of children, in terms of their social, emotional and physical development. At Stepping Stones, we take our collective responsibility for children’s social, emotional and physical needs very seriously. Every day, all of the staff will be involved in ensuring that each child’s full range of needs are catered for, whether that is linked to their individual stages of cognitive development, or whether they can use the toilet independently.
The Caterpillar Class takes children from after their second birthday, though the exact point of entry will depend on how ready the child is to start at nursery. In order to ascertain this, we liaise with parents on an individual basis as we recognise that all children are different.
When the children join the nursery, they will be allocated a ‘key person’ from the staff team to support them during their time in the Caterpillar Class. This is of particular importance during the settling period.
The children move into the Butterfly Class in the term that they have their third birthday. Occasionally, it may be the term after their third birthday if, following discussions with the staff and parents, it is decided that it would benefit a child to spend a further term in the Caterpillar Class. Our aim in the Butterfly Class is to gradually extend the children’s concentration skills and to introduce them to slightly more challenging adult led table top activities. They will also be introduced to educational software on the computer, focusing on a range of curriculum activities.
This is one of the pre-school classes. The children are aged between three and four years. It is typically comprised of the children who have their birthdays between the beginning of March until the end of August, therefore the younger children in the academic year. The children continue to develop their early years skills across the curriculum, whilst acquiring the skills that they will need when they transfer to primary school.
The children in the Ladybird Class are the pre-school children with birthdays from September until the end of February. The children follow the same curriculum as the Dragonfly Class in order to prepare them for transfer to primary school.
We base all of our planning on the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) which feeds into the KS1 National Curriculum.
There are 7 main areas of learning included within the EYFS:
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Communication and language
- Understanding of the world
- Expressive arts
- Physical development
All of the children will experience activities that cover each of the above areas. Teachers plan according to the developmental stage and age of the children in their class.Often, a class will focus on a particular theme for a week or maybe longer. Parents are informed weekly via an email as to the specific aspects of the curriculum that are being covered in order to support home:school links.
Children have the option of staying at the nursery until 3pm from Monday to Thursday. This is in addition to the morning session and does require the child to have stopped needing a sleep in the afternoon.
The children all bring their own packed lunches and we provide parents with guidelines about ‘healthy packed lunches’ as we promote healthy eating across the nursery.
After having eaten lunch, the children will take part in a range of activities which may include cooking, art, dance and trips to the park for exercise classes.
We do try and encourage particularly the older children to stay in the afternoon prior to transferring to primary school.
Children are assessed from the point of entry in to the nursery until they leave. We use this process of ongoing assessment of the children’s strengths and areas for development to inform future planning for activities.
The main strategy for assessing the children is to observe them whilst they are carrying out activities. We then record our assessments in an individual profile for each child. This is passed on to subsequent teachers, and ultimately the child’s primary school.
When the children are two years old, we are required to carry out a progress check of their devlopment. This is completed in conjunction with the parents and a copy is sent home.
Assessments and progress are discussed with parents regularly, either at Consultation appointments, or more informally at the end of a session if appropriate.
When the children move in to one of the pre-school classes, they have french lessons each week and are taught by an early years french teacher. The activities include role play, the use of puppets as well as learning a range of simple french songs. The french teacher holds ‘open lessons’ for parents so that the children can demonstrate the progress they are making.
Weekly emails are sent home so that parents can see what has been covered each week, with the aim that parents might like to reinforce key vocabulary or themes covered.
One of our aims at Stepping Stones is to develop children’s confidence and ability to express themselves. We have links with several actors who work on a regular basis in the nursery. Each class has drama and movement which inncorporates yoga with a peripatetic teacher each week. We also place an emphasis on interactive story telling, involving the use of props.
We occasionally have designated ‘dressing up’ days at the nursery where the children come to nursery in a costume of their choice. Not surprisingly, this leads to a significant amount of role-play on those days!
Each class will spend sometime each week in outdoor learning at our local park. This provides all of our children with a regular opportunity to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in our natural environment.
Each of the classes across the nursery have lessons from a specialist music teacher each week, assuming that they attend the nursery on the day that she teaches.
The children are taught by a classically trained musician from The Royal College of Music. Helen Smith has taught music for over 20 years with children under 5 years of age. Her approach to teaching is dynamic and involves a colourful aray of musical instruments and props.
Every year we hold a Christmas Nativity Play. All of the children in the nursery take part with the older children having speaking parts and is always heavily attended by nearly 300 proud parents, grandparents and friends.
The children take part in a variety of activities each week which focus on the development of their gross motor skills. They also have more focused PE sessions on Friday mornings, taught by our experienced PE. These take place in Wendell Park or in the hall next door to the nursery, depending on the time of the year.
We hold a whole nursery Sports Day in the summer in Wendell Park. All parents and families are invited to attend, and maybe even take part….!
Children can be admitted to the nursery from the day of their 2nd birthday, subject to availability. They can remain with us until they start primary school. We are an over-subscribed nursery and it is advisable to register your child via our online application form as soon as possible. Please note, there is no fee for this but it does ensure your child’s place on our waiting list.
Stepping Stones is an independent, private nursery school. We subscribe to the Early Years Grant Scheme which entitles all children to a contribution of approximately a third off the nursery fees from the government. This applies from the term following the child’s 3rd birthday.
We are also registered with several childcare voucher schemes. However, we ask that you register with any scheme in advance so that you have accrued money in your childcare voucher account as we do ask for full payment of fees at the beginning of each term. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more details if necessary.
Fees per term before Early Years Grant deductions for 2018/19 for Caterpillars and Butterflies:
2 morning sessions per week
3 morning sessions per week
4 morning sessions per week
5 morning sessions per week
Please contact the office for the additional termly fee for Bumble Bee Class, our extended day class for children staying on until 3pm and for the fees for Dragonflies and Ladybirds, our two pre-school classes.
Parents are invoiced for the term’s fees at the beginning of each term. A deposit of half a term’s fees is required when your child begins which is refunded after your child’s last term.
Contact our office for bank details.
As a nursery school, we work closely with parents throughout the academic year. Many of our staff , including the head teacher, are working parents. We therefore work hard to ensure that our families have valuable information concerning children’s progress and activities as far in advance as possible. We have attempted to set dates for fixed events as far as possible.
We have made a conscious decision in January 2013, to communicate with our parents electronically rather than using paper. We have discussed this with the parents and children and are committed to reducing our carbon footprint.
Parents will receive weekly updates from class teachers concerning what their children will be doing that week as well as a weekly Newsletter from the headteacher.
Stepping Stones is organised into 3 terms. Each term has a half-term holiday. Children can attend on a part-time basis (a minimum of 2 sessions a week) from 2 to 3 1/2 years of age.
In the Ladybird and Dragonfly Classes we aim for all children to attend each morning as they need to have access to the full curriculum on offer before they transfer to Primary School.
9.00am – 12.00pm
9.10am – 12.20pm
9.00am – 12.30pm
9.00am – 12.40pm
EXTENDED DAY PROVISION – BUMBLE BEE CLASS
If parents feel that their child is ready and doesn’t still need a sleep in the afternoon, then they can stay at nursery until 3pm for an extended day provision (see ‘Extra Curricular Activities’). They will need to bring a packed lunch from home and we issue guidelines to parents for ‘Healthy Packed Lunch Options’.
Moving On To Primary School
We have many years of experience in advising parents about the excellent selection of local independent and state primary schools.
Our parent coffee mornings are also a good opportunity for parents to swap information about schools.
We ‘feed’ to several local highly-regarded private schools, such as Orchard House, Chiswick & Bedford Park, Heathfield House, and Ravenscourt Park Prep.
Many of our children also transfer on to several over-subscribed local state schools, particularly St. Peter’s Church of England Primary School, Larmenier and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, John Betts Primary School, St. Stephen’s Church of England Primary School, The Free School and the surrounding Ark Schools.
Stepping Stones is available to hire as a venue for children’s birthday parties or other family events, either after school hours or during weekends.
We have links with several experienced Party Entertainers who have already successfully held themed parties at the nursery. Please contact the nursery office to check for availability and cost.