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Benefits of pre-school

Pre-school at Scallywags


Pre-school is an educational establishment or learning space offering early childhood education to children before they begin compulsory education at primary school. It may be publicly or privately operated, and may be subsidised from public funds.


  • So you finally get your child settled into nursery

  • They make friends, they love the staff, it’s close to home and work, you feel confident that they’re happy. The situation couldn’t be better.

  • But then they get a bit older and other mums start talking about pre-school and your mind turns to primary school.


Now you have questions and a whole new dilemma:

  • “What is pre-school?”

  • “Does my child have to move now?”

  • “How is pre-school different to nursery?”

  • “What do I need to do to make sure my child has the best start to school?”


There’s a lot of confusion around pre-school, so below is a guide to what it is, why it matters, and why it might not be the upheaval you’re dreading.


Pre-school at school vs Pre-school at nursery – everything you need to know


Most children begin school at the start of the school year in which they turn five, so when your child is three you may begin researching local primary schools and thinking about where you would like them to start their BIG school life.


Some primary schools also offer pre-school education for children aged 3-4 years, and may suggest you move your child there before you make your school application. But is this right for your child? Let’s explore your options.


What’s the difference between a private pre-school and a school’s?


Private nurseries like Scallywags and pre-schools attached to schools both follow the same Early Years Foundation Stage guidelines which impact on the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years.


However, there are differences.


Private nurseries run their pre-school sessions based on the individual interests and needs of each child. The staff continuously observe each child and then offer educational activities that help them progress and succeed.


In contrast, school pre-schools often follow topic-led teaching that might not be of interest to your child – and if they’re not interested, they may be less likely to get involved and enjoy learning.


What about funding and availability of childcare?


Private nurseries and schools both receive funding for 15 and 30 hours a week for children aged 3 + until they start school.


However, schools generally only have a limited number of full day places available and usually prefer to offer morning or afternoon sessions. They also only operate during school hours.

Schools only offer pre-school childcare during term-time.


Private nurseries generally offer more flexibility. Scallywags Nursery is open from 7.30am until 6pm every day, 51 weeks of the year, so your child continues to receive pre-school education all year-round.


At Scallywags we offer four funded models:

  • Use all 30 hours funding at Scallywags and stretch this over 51 weeks to ensure you receive funding all year round with no hidden extras.

  • Use 30 hours funding across two sites (us 15 hours and another setting 15 hours). With this model you can claim up to 15 hours at each site. As our day is longer than the school day, there are consumables and extra hours to pay for.

  • Use 15 hours (or anything up to 15 in). With this model there are additional hours and consumable to pay for.

  • Use 15 hours, term time only (limited number of spaces available).
    For more information on funded places or if you would like to talk about an alternative option, please email the nursery office.


What about the staff ratios?

When children are aged 3+ years, schools are able to have just one early year’s teacher per 13 children. That could mean there are 26 children with only two adults!

In many private nurseries, including Scallywags, the ratio is one adult to every eight children – that’s almost twice as many qualified adults as most schools, which gives your child a more personalised experience. Scallywags also employs two early years teachers in the pre-school that work on a 1:8 ratio.


But the school said my child needs to move now to make friends before they start reception class?


Have you ever been to a parent and toddler group and by the time you leave, your little one is firm friends with another child? It doesn’t take long for children to build strong relationships.


Children are naturally friendly and curious – and will approach peers and make friends with ease. Do not be put under pressure and made to feel guilty about keeping your child at a private nursery pre-school, where they are already happy and confident, and where many will have friends that they transition with into big school the following year.


Will my child lose their place at the school if I don’t move them?


The school doesn’t make the decision about who is accepted into the reception year – that decision is made at the Local Authority level.


There have been cases where a parent has moved their child to a pre-school in the hope that it will help secure a reception place at their preferred school, only to discover that they don’t then get a place at that school.


Just because a child attends a school nursery doesn’t guarantee them a place at that school, so make the decision based on what’s best for your child and you as a family.


What about having a key person?


At a nursery pre-school, your child will be paired with a qualified adult – someone they naturally connect and feel comfortable with and likely already know from seeing them around the nursery. This person will become your contact throughout their time in pre-school and are always happy to have a chat or organise a virtual meeting at any point with you to discuss your child’s progress.

At school, it is highly unlikely that such a scheme is in place – as with only one adult for every 13 children, it’s difficult for them to give you that personal level of attention. It is likely that you will be offered a parent evening slot once per term with little time for long discussions in-between.

So what are the benefits of my child staying at Scallywags pre-school?


Children move into our purpose-built pre-school room the start of the academic school year in which they turn 4 years old. The pre-school room is led by qualified teachers and caters for children 3.5 to 4.5 years.


We plan for individual needs


Within the pre-school room we offer activities planned to support each child’s individual interest and development in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum (2014). Staff plan for children’s interest by involving children in the planning, through daily observations and from information provided by parents during pick up or drop off times.


During the day we provide a continuous provision of sand, water, messy play, block play, a quiet area for reading stories and relaxing, role play area, sensory play, challenge area, craft area and free flow play in and outside. All of our resources and activity areas are appropriate for pre-school aged children and are designed to promote and stimulate your child’s development, learning and independence.


However independent and active our pre-school children are, all children will sometimes need a rest or just a cuddle. Our practitioners are always on hand to provide this to ensure your child is still receiving the home form home care that our little ones need.


At Scallywags we respect and value the diversity of all children and the pre-school room really allows children to establish their own sense of identity, to grow in confidence and independence and become a responsible member of our nursery community.


Space to explore and develop skills


Pre-school children are always on the go and really benefit from the large play room that allow them to explore both large and small physical play as well as having continuous free flow access to the garden on a daily basis.




The pre-school room thrives on daily routines. Routine helps all children feel safe and secure and prepares them for a more formal education that school offers. Routine is a great way to teach children healthy habits and when children know what to expect each day, they are more likely to be calm and settled. Ultimately your child’s independence will develop when accessing activities meaning they become confident independent learners.


Supporting additional needs


To support children’s communication & language development, we provide all children with group sessions on a daily basis. For children who need extra support with their communication and language, we have a dedicated communication and language lead practitioner who can spend targeted one to one support time with them to ensure they are school ready.


Meal times


We try and ensure that mealtimes are a family time at Scallywags. The preschool children have access to water throughout the day and eat lunch in the room with their peers and teachers. They also have a snack table offering fruit and other healthy options to the children at set times during the day.


Transition to school

Key areas we work on to support school readiness and transition onto school

To ensure your child is developing the skills they need for when they start big school, the pre-school room mirrors the types of activities that children will experience once in reception at school, and ultimately provides your child with an easy and comfortable transition to big school.


Once your child has been allocated a school place, we will start transitions with your child’s allocated school. Your child’s key person and the nursery teacher will talk to your child’s allocated school about your child and pass on relevant development information. School teachers are also invited to visit children at nursery, and we will also endeavour to take children for visits to local school.


The Key areas worked on in pre-school are:

  • Social skills: being able to work in small groups and share adult’s attention

  • Literacy skills: letter sounds and letter formation

  • Numeracy skills: number recognition and using number practically and mentally

  • Physical development: being able to recognise how the body works and keeping healthy

  • Creative Development: being provided with the opportunities to explore different textures and properties

  • Knowledge and understanding of the world: being provided with the opportunities to recognise what is going on around them.


The 10 golden keys of school readiness that are worked on daily during the pre-school year to ensure your child can:

  • I can settle happily without my parent or carer

  • I can tell friends and grown-ups what I need

  • I can take turns and share when I am playing

  • I can go to the toilet on my own and wash my hands

  • I can put on my own coat and shoes and feed myself

  • I can tell a grown up if I am happy, sad or cross

  • I know that what I do and say can make others happy or unhappy

  • I am curious and want to learn and play

  • I can stop what I am doing, listen and follow simple instructions

  • I enjoy sharing books with grown-ups


Your child is settled

Settling your child into nursery can be stressful time for both of you – being able to drop them off at nursery and leave them smiling and waving is the biggest relief for a parent. So why put yourself and your child through the stress of an unnecessary move to another pre-school, without their friend, when they will have to make the move to BIG school in one year’s time.


Nursery staff are fully qualified

Scallywags staff are fully qualified in ‘early years’ and understand the importance of the EYFS ethos of learning through play. The preschool unit is run and led by qualified teachers... just the same as at school.


Scallywags employs qualified early years teachers to help get children school-ready in its pre-school, so they start reception confident and happy. Listen to your instincts and go with your gut. Pre-school needn’t be an upheaval but a natural part of their early year’s education at nursery.


Additional staff training

All staff working with your child are fully qualified in paediatric first aid, food hygiene, safeguarding, health and safety and behaviour management to name a few.


Excellent resources

Budgets are tight in primary education – not many schools have the money for extensive specific early years resources, but instead share resources with the whole school. Scallywags regularly invests in new age-appropriate equipment across the whole of the nursery and resources to keep children entertained and challenged. Our pre-school rooms have regular resource reviews to ensure the staff have everything they need to ensure your little one can meet their full potential.


Added extras

  • Music Time: Music Time will be in nursery once during the week running a music and movement session for all children. There is an additional £1.50 charge for this.

  • PE: Each week children will take part in a PE session let by nursery staff. The sessions follow a PE scheme of work to ensure your little one has the correct physical skills for starting school e.g. dressing and undressing independently, being able to balance, throw and catch as well as developing gymnastics, games and dance skills.

  • Forest Field Play: Children in the pre-school room get to take part in this weekly fun activity. The philosophy of Forest Field Play is to encourage and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences giving each child an opportunity to develop skills such as self-awareness, motivation, empathy, good social communication skills, independence, a positive mental attitude, self-esteem and confidence.


Questions to ask before deciding between a school pre-school and your nursery pre-school


  • What is the staff to children ratio?

  • Will my child get help going to the toilet if needed?

  • What if a child has a toileting accident? Who will help them? How many staff will be left with the other children during that time?

  • What early years qualifications and training do the staff have?

  • Are all pre-school staff trained in first aid?

  • Does the nursery have a suitable environment, resources and equipment for three- and four-year-old children?

  • Do the children have free flow access in and outside?

  • Can the setting accommodate ad hoc additional sessions when grandparents decide to take a holiday?

  • Is there an open door policy where parent can come and see their little one playing and have unlimited time with their teacher discussing progress and next steps?

  • How do they support your child with school readiness?


If your child is settled and happy at nursery, you don’t need to move them to a pre-school at a local primary school. They will receive good education and care from qualified staff in a suitable environment at Scallywags.


If you have any further question or queries regarding our pre-school facilities, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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