TINY tots have made great strides after taking the first steps of their primary education.

Nursery pupils at West Park Academy, Darlington, took to the stage to receive their graduation certificates from principal Samantha Hirst, before a delighted audience of parents, carers, family, and friends.

The 28 young scholars, dressed in cap and gowns, performed a graduation dance to the High School Musical theme ‘We’re all in this Together’ and sang their graduation song ‘Up Up Up’, before watching an emotional video showing the highlights of their first year at the academy.

Nursery teacher Hayley Woodcock said: “It only feels like five minutes since all of the children walked through my nursery door for the very first time.

“In 12 months they have grown so much and are now so much more independent and I feel so proud of each and every one of them.

“Nursery is not just about taking the first steps in learning, it is also about making friendships, trust, sharing and risk taking and all of the children now have a strong foundation on which to continue their journey through education.”

Following the ceremony pupils were invited into the academy grounds for photographs in their graduation caps and robes.

Mum Nicola Dowson, whose son Elliot, four, received his graduation certificate, said: “Elliott has loved his time at nursery, especially playing with the blocks and being outside with his friends.

“Our eldest son William is leaving Year 6 this term to move to Wyvern Academy and our daughter Mia will be going into Year 4, so this is our third graduation ceremony at West Park Academy.

“I can’t fault the school at all. The staff are amazing and it’s lovely that they put on a ceremony like this for the children to mark the end of nursery and the start of a new beginning.”

Mrs Hirst added: “Over the past year our nursery pupils have played, painted, dressed up, read, written, coloured, learnt, grown and thrived.

“This is our opportunity to celebrate the next step in their schooldays and wish them all the best on the exciting journey ahead.”

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