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Conkers, The Balsam Centre's Community Nursery

Welcome to Conkers, the nursery that always puts children and families first.

Our own nursery, run by The Balsam Centre's Early Years staff, is a natural progression from the high quality services we have provided since becoming a Children's Centre in 2007. A new Balsam Centre project, it is a chance to provide a full-time service that children can access daily, or as required.

We are able to offer flexible childcare for 50 weeks of the year, with funded places for 3 to 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds. We also offer places for babies from 3 months.

Based on the lower floor of Churchfields, the District Council Offices, we have sole use of a large nursery room which has free flow access to the secure outdoor play area.

To gain access to the nursery there is an audio entry system and as an additional security measure when children are outside, a member of staff will greet you at the gate.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) at Conkers

Young children come to activities with a fresh perspective, without the expectations that we have as adults. At Conkers, we encourage the "scientist" within every child by using the "OWL" (Observe, Wait, Listen) technique when children approach an optional activity. We have found that, given time to explore the materials, children usually discover different and much more imaginative and exciting ways to use them than we might have thought of when we set an activity up. They become more involved, concentrate for extended periods of time and consequently learn more, at a deeper level. Our staff are very skilful at judging when a child might need a little support to complete what they set out to do (before frustration sets in!), but also knowing when it would not be appropriate to interrupt their train of thought. We don't instruct them how to approach an activity unless necessary (for example, how to operate scissors or use a hammer), but model possibilities and a positive approach to persevering when a problem arises.

So, when your child brings a painting, model, card or gift home for you, it will be their OWN work and unique! We don't use templates or have an expectation that there will be a product every time a child tries the activities available at the creative table, for example. Sometimes it's more important to focus on the process.

So, what has this got to do with the Early Years Foundation Stage? From 0-3, the EYFS is very focused on the development of skills which, whatever a child's culture, are considered crucial in the years before the age of 5, if a child is going to meet the later demands of the school curriculum. These are: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, and Physical Development. All the activities we offer at Conkers are planned using the EYFS Development Matters statements. Our observations and other records that we keep to build a full profile of your child's development reflect this. We do, of course, provide opportunities for learning in specific areas of learning - reading, writing and mathematics - for example, and track their progress.

 

Did you know that all babies and young children are superb scientists?

They spend their time developing theories which they test, evaluate, retest and confirm. ("This lady is smiling at me; I wonder what happens if I smile back? Aha, she is talking to me now - I wonder if I can make my mouth into that shape? I wonder if this will work with other people?")

child in the trees

At Conkers, the "Characteristics of Effective Early Learning" are at the centre of what we do

These are life skills really: curiosity, willingness to have a go at something new, getting involved and concentrating, having the confidence to keep trying even when it gets tricky, or choosing a different way of doing something, even setting up your own challenges and recognising your own achievements. Every child who develops each of these characteristics builds the resilience to overcome the challenges of everyday living and succeed in what they choose to do.

chlld playing

Parents and Staff Working Together

As our name, The Balsam Centre's Community Nursery, suggests, we are based in the community, for the community. Strong relationships are key to a child's development, so we actively encourage family involvement. When your child joins us we rely on your knowledge and expertise about your child to ensure that we provide some familiar activities, to help with the settling in process. The Balsam Centre (Healthy Living Centre and Children's Centre) is renowned for excellent partnership working and received an outstanding grade for this from Ofsted in 2012. We aim to maintain this standard in our nursery!

We know information is a two-way street and are always interested to hear about precious moments at home, so please tell us about them. You can do this in person, by text or email or by writing it on a post it note, which are always available. Our younger children have a communication book to record feeds, nappy changes, sleep and other daily information. If a child is showing a particular interest at home or has enjoyed an outing we can always add something to our provision which will keep the interest going or add to learning in a different area. We also offer opportunities for parents to play and learn alongside their children, as well as occasional social events for families.

Flexible Settling In

As every child is unique, we have a flexible settling in period. Some children settle very quickly and others take a little longer, so we tailor it to meet your needs. Once settled each child will be allocated a Key Person. We wait until children have settled in before allocating a permanent Key Person to see if they build a bond with a particular member of staff.

Keeping in Touch

We like to celebrate children's achievements and share them with you, so we have parents' meetings twice a year as well as daily "handover" contact with your child's Key Person. We are required to keep formal records of every child's achievements in the EYFS, which follow the child to school and remain with them until the end of the first year. Please feel free to come and see your child's Learning Journey.

Meet the people who will nurture your children....

Frances Coleridge

Frances, Manager

Frances is our outdoors "champion" and Forest School Leader. She brings with her all her 22 years experience in Early Years Education, as a class teacher, a Special Educational Needs coordinator (SENco) and as an Assistant Head Teacher, along with being an Early Years Advisor for Dorset County Council - and as our very own Children's Centre Teacher here at the Balsam Centre, leading the "Play and Learn" philosophy.

Her enthusiasm for exploring coupled with her curiosity and imagination have always made Frances' groups very popular with children, and it is this "Play and Learn" philosophy that Frances will continue at Conkers.

Tina Graham

Tina, Deputy Manager

Tina brings 22 years of experience in Early Years Provision, having spent 8 years as a manager of a nursery before becoming a Family Support Worker at The Balsam Centre. She has her City and Guilds Level 3 "Working with Families" and her Diploma in Pre-School Practice.

It is Tina's zeal for working with families and her talent for listening and encouraging that has inspired many families to come into the centre and get involved in the groups she has set up.

Nicky King

Nicky, Senior Early Years Educator

Nicky has a wealth of experience in all aspects of childcare - 23 years of it, including 17 as a childminder. On paper, she has a Diploma in Pre-School Practice and an NVQ in Early Years Childcare and Education.

Nicky cares deeply about children and has been a foster parent for several years, a Family Support Worker and the Lead Centre Officer at Castle Cary's Children's Centre - she's a star at building confidence.

Suzi Davenport

Suzi, Senior Early Years Educator

Suzi has 12 years experience working in two very different nurseries, and as a Family Support Worker at The Balsam Centre with her NVQ Level 3 qualification in Early Years.

Suzi's warm and friendly demeanor has nurtured both adults and children in the groups she worked with, encouraging them all to enjoy new learning activities. Her space-hopping skills are second to none!

missison statement

Come along and join the fun! Contact us to find out more.

If you have any questions, whether it's about EYFS or how you can register your child, contact us and talk to a member of staff. (If you are unable to reach us on the phone, call The Balsam Centre).

Address: Conkers Community Nursery, Council Offices, Churchfields, Wincanton, BA9 9AG

Telephone: 01963 31882 Email: conkers@balsamcentre.org.uk

Opening Times

We are open from 8am to 5.30pm Mondays to Fridays.

We close for the period between Christmas and New Year and Bank Holidays. In addition, the nursery is closed for three staff training days, which we plan to coincide (as far as possible) with other local providers' training days. We give at least one month's notice and our aim is to provide the three dates for the school year in September.

Recommended start times are 8am, 9am and 1pm but we are flexible so please come and talk to us.

chlld playing

the growing space

Fees

Fees are payable monthly in advance. Arrangements can be made for weekly payment in advance. Please see our Fees Policy.

Children under 2 years £4.50 per hour

Children 2 - 4 years £4.30 per hour

We offer year round and term time only contracts

Parents of children who are in receipt of government funding (3-4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds) can choose to spread the 570 funded hours over 12 months rather than having a term time only contract. This would enable your child to attend nursery for 11.4 hours per week for 50 weeks

We do not charge for the period between Christmas and New Year, Bank Holidays or staff training days.

Children attending on a year round contract may take 2 full weeks as holiday during the year at a 50% discount. These must be taken as a full week (child's usual attendance hours) and a month's notice is required.

Parents need to provide their own nappies, wipes, and suncream.

Supporting The Balsam Centre

The Balsam Centre is an independent charity set up by local people for local people.

Whilst the work of the Centre is long term, funding for its projects and services is all too frequently short term.

It is largely thanks to help from a fund created by a legacy left by one person, that the Balsam Centre has been able to continue its mental health work over the last few years. The help that this has given hundreds of people is a permanent and living memorial to that person’s generosity.

If you are thinking of donating, have you considered becoming a Friend of the Balsam Centre? This is a commitment to regular giving of any amount, at any interval, by standing order, and even better, if you are a UK tax payer and you ‘tick’ to say so, we can claim another 25% on top of your donation to support the work of the Centre. Become a Friend here!

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