Leaving Survey 2015

We have just completed our survey of parents whose child left Sandbrook in July and it’s been really useful seeing all the feedback.  We are always striving to make our playgroup as good as it can possibly be so it’s great to have your views and ideas.

What we have found out is that the vast majority of parents are happy with the quality of care and education their child receives at Sandbrook and would recommend it to other people.  75% of parents think our staff are excellent and 25% think they are good.  100%  of parents would recommend our playgroup to other people.

Some of the comments include:

‘I recommend Sandbrook to other people one billion percent.  You have been absolutely brilliant.’

‘We’ve had a really lovely time at Sandbrook.  I am happy to recommend it and I hope it does really well in the future.’

‘We have had two children through Sandbrook and have had a fantastic experience.  Both the girls have been very happy there and for me that is the most important thing.  Sandbrook gave my older daughter a fantastic preparation for school, as well as a strong circle of friends to take with her.  My youngest daughter seems equally equipped and ready.  The playgroup encourages a culture that is respectful, caring and curious.  The staff form strong bonds with the children and this is really evident in the way the children behave towards them.  We are very sad to leave.’

‘The staff are really good and I feel happy handing my child into their care’

‘Good caring, lovely people.  Big thanks to Lorraine, Gina, Aysha, Tricia, Alix and Vanessa’

There are some great suggestions of what we can do to improve – so we will do our best to act on these in  the coming weeks:

‘More flexibility with hours.’

‘Take the children out more, not necessarily big trips but just to the local park or shop.’

‘Maybe more around phonics and writing their name for the older children going into reception in the next year.’

‘Continue investing in your staff so they stay.  They are the real backbone to the playgroup and a hugely valuable asset.’

Please don’t forget that you can talk to staff at any time if you have any concerns or suggestions.

What a wonderful time we had at Clissold Park!


The children from Sandbrook Community Playgroup attended a workshop at Clissold Park today and learned all about the changing seasons.  They saw some of the birds and animals that live in the park and found out where the wild parakeets live high up in the trees.  They even got to see a bird’s nest close up.  They were especially interested to see the difference in size between a quail and an ostrich egg.  They were all give sticky strips so they could collect tiny flowers, bits of grass, blossom and other things that grow in the park.  They had a wonderful time and it was lovely that so many parents could share in the learning experience too.

Clissoldn Trip 10 (2) 1 Clissold Trip pic 15 (2) Clissold trip pic 14 (2) Clissold Trip pic 13 (2) Clissoldn Trip 10 (2) 1 Clissold Trip pic 9 (2) 1 Clissold trip 8 (2) 1 Clissold Trip 6 (2) 1

Mid year survey

We have just completed our mid-year survey of parents and it’s been really useful seeing all the feedback.  We are always striving to make our playgroup as good as it can possibly be so it’s great to have your views and ideas.

What we have found out is that the vast majority of parents are happy with the quality of care and education their child receives at Sandbrook and would recommend it to other people.  59% of parents think our staff are excellent and 33% think they are good.

Some of the comments include:

‘My child has flourished at Sandbrook and the community of staff and children have become an important part of her life.’

‘My child has blossomed over this their time at Sandbrook, becoming a confident and happy pre-schooler.  Sandbrook has helped enormously with the little bumps along the way.  Always coming home with information, stories and new games to play, and asking to go every day – even weekends!’

‘Think it is totally brilliant.  Amazing staff, brilliant, friendly, warm and nurturing and homely environment.  Thank you!’

‘I think it is such a nice environment, calm and relaxed and a lovely way to ease a child into education.  My son has always loved it at Sandbrook.  So much so that it is a useful method of bribery at home!’

There are some great suggestions of what we can do to improve – so we will do our best to act on these in  the coming weeks:

‘I don’t know how you do it but get the participation a little fairer, get every parent to do their bit.’

‘More outings eg theatre trips.’

‘Make the coffee mornings at the same time as your child’s sessions and have them downstairs as a family day instead.  That way you can get some more valuable insight.’

‘Perhaps the books Sandbrook make on each child could be taken home over night or half termly as it was quite hard to have a proper look at it during the key worker review.’

‘We need a bigger pram/scooter shed.’

‘More construction toys.’

‘A waiting area for parents when picking up but obviously this isn’t possible due to size.’

Please don’t forget that you can talk to staff at any time if you have any concerns or suggestions.




The importance of being two

Sandbrook was closed yesterday so that all staff could attend a Hackney Learning Trust conference on ‘The importance of being two’.

Speakers included Julia Manning-Morton who described how two year olds often get emotionally overwhelmed.  They need to form secure emotional attachments and to have continuity and consistency as a base from which to explore the world around them.  She believes they develop best in smaller groups with high numbers of staff to support them.

At Sandbrook every child has a key person who forms a close relationship with the child and their family.  They observe the child, getting to know them well, and they work in partnership with parents to plan activities which reflect their interests and encourage them to explore and discover as they move along the road to greater independence.

One thing Julia did mention which is interesting to think about, is how we praise children. She recommends that praise should not be overdone, should be genuine and should be specific.  Julia says that the aim is for children to develop inner understanding and control of themselves not to rely on praise from others.  So we shouldn’t praise children for everyday achievements but should praise them for specific things when we really mean it. For example, rather than saying ‘what a brilliant painting’ you could say ‘I really love the way that you have used all those different colours to make the sun’.

There was also a session at the conference on the emotional development of two year olds.  Some children of this age can’t bear to feel little and helpless so they become bossy as a way of covering this up and some become super fussy as a way of getting adults to recognise that they have their own choices and preferences.  Others become clingy and fearful and many throw temper tantrums when they get exhausted and overwhelmed.  As adults it is our job to teach children how to control their feelings and emotions and it’s important that we show understanding and tolerance as well as firmness.  The best thing to do is to stay calm, acknowledge their feelings, restate the problem and then ask for solutions and choose one.  Always try to give follow up support.  Two year olds will eventually learn to share and to accept people saying ‘no’ when they want something – honestly!

If you want any advice on coping with your child’s behaviour at home, or want to know more about how we deal with behaviour at Sandbrook please don’t hesitate to speak to your child’s key person.


Theme for this term

We have noticed that children at Sandbrook have been showing great interest in some classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  They also love stories like Barry the Fish with Fingers, The Hungry Caterpillar, Mrs Vicker’s Knickers, Owl Babies and The Fish That Could Wish.  We always try to plan activities around the children’s interests so we have decided that stories will be the topic for this term.

Focusing on stories will not only give opportunities for the children to develop their reading skills, but will also help their communication and language development and allow them to take part in lots of imaginative play.  We want to encourage children to listen to stories carefully, anticipating what is going to happen and responding with their own comments and questions.  We also want to encourage them to use the stories they hear as they play with their friends.

We are planning to make a display of the children’s favourite stories and characters.  We would like to ask parents to encourage their children to bring in a favourite story book to share with the other children.  Also please do sign up to come in to the playgroup to read stories to the children, there is a parent reading rota on the playgroup’s notice board.

We are in the process of putting together a printed book containing photographs of the children that can be read with them by the adults that care for them outside our playgroup.  This will give them a chance to share what they do at Sandbrook and for them to use their language skills to tell other people about what is happening in the pictures.

This topic also links in nicely with our World Book Day celebrations on Thursday 5th March. On this day children can dress up as their favourite book character and staff enjoy dressing up too!  We invite all parents and carers to come and join us as we celebrate our love of books together.


New Research by the Pre-School Learning Alliance published today

Sandbrook Community Playgroup is a member of the Pre-School Learning Alliance and was recently asked to participate in some research the Alliance was carrying out regarding the funding of the early years sector.

You can see the results here

Sandbrook offers funded places for three and four year olds for 15 hours a week.  We also offer funded places to two year olds who come from families whose total household income is less than £25,000 per annum.

Parent Partnership

Mums and dads are the first influence on their child’s development and future outcomes.   What happens in the home is more important than material circumstances or anything that will happen to them at their playgroup or at school.

At Sandbrook we think that it is really important that staff and parents work together to support children’s learning and development.  A true partnership needs to exist where there is mutual respect, a recognition of the importance of the role of each partner and where both understand that it is only by working together that children’s learning and development opportunities are maximised

The Early Years Foundation Stage says that key workers should build relationships with parents, keep them up-to-date with their child’s progress, respond to observations that they share, involve them in assessments and support them to guide their child’s development at home.   We do all of these things but we also ask that you share information with us.  We want to know as much as possible about your child, what they like doing, how they learn, what comforts them, who they spend time with and all those other things that we can use to make them feel secure and happy at our playgroup.

We really value the knowledge that you have of your child.  You know them best and you can help us make sure that we meet their individual needs.  You can talk to staff when you drop off and pick up your child and we will ask you to come in for regular reviews.  If you want a chat at any time please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your child’s key worker.

Each child has their special book which contains observations, photographs and examples of their  work.  This is available to parents at any time and you are welcome to bring in things that they have done at home, or write about something you think is important, to add to it.  This helps us to plan ways of supporting their learning and to make sure that they are making good progress.

Let us know what your child has achieved at home so we can celebrate with you and look for ways of building on their current interests together.  For example, if both you and the key worker have noticed that your child often gathers objects in bags and transports them around at home and at playgroup, we could agree to provide a collection of bags and everyday objects at home and similar resources at Sandbrook.  We could also arrange to provide buckets, stones and shells in the outdoor area while you could take a bucket on walks to the park so that your child can collect and transport conkers, twigs and leaves. This is how we can work together to respond to your child’s interests and help them to learn.

Let us know if you have been somewhere special with your child.  Send us some photographs of the occasion so that we can add them to their special book or display them for other children to see.  They could bring in a souvenir to show at circle time or we could think about how we could introduce the experience at the playgroup.  For example, if a child is going on holiday we might turn the home corner into a travel agents so that we can introduce the concept of going on an airplane or staying in a hotel.

We hold regular sessions to tell you more about aspects of the EYFS so do come along if you want to know more about how we support the children in things like developing their personal, social and emotional skills, numeracy and literacy.

Keep an eye out for regular emails where we tell you what is happening at the playgroup and, of course, when you pick your child up we use the white board in the window to tell you what they have been doing that day.  We encourage parents to come in to take part in activities whenever they like and also to share their interests perhaps by reading to the children, helping at cooking sessions or playing an instrument.  We also have regular trips and events that parents are invited to.

We have a book and story sack library at Sandbrook where you can borrow resources to use at home with your child.  When it gets time for your child to leave us to start school we have a number of children’s books about this which you might find helpful in preparing them for the transition.

Every year we have a hardback book printed with photographs of the children which show what life is like at our playgroup.  You will have seen a copy during your home visit which we hope helped you to understand the routine at Sandbrook.  We will be publishing an up-dated version after Christmas featuring your child which you can borrow to share with them at home.  It really helps with their self confidence as they are able to show you all the things they can do and point out the friends and staff members who are important to them.

We want you to feel part of your child’s learning and development and we want you to feel part of our playgroup.  Please speak to any member of staff if you want to know more.