LEARNING is proving to be child’s play after a nursery was hailed ‘outstanding’ across the board by Government inspectors.

Ofsted inspectors awarded the top Grade 1 ‘outstanding’ judgement to Darlington College Childcare Centre in four key areas including effectiveness of leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare and outcomes for children.

They last inspected the facility in 2015 when they rated the nursery good with outstanding features. Since then learning and care have improved even further for more than 60 children, ranging in age from babies to four-years-old.

In a thorough examination of all aspects of the childcare centre, inspectors toured nursery rooms and the outdoor play areas.

They spoke to staff and children, observed sessions, scrutinised documentation, including evidence of the suitability and qualifications of staff working at the nursery and listened to the views of parents.

Inspectors had high praise for the organisation highlighting that:

  • The experienced managers and staff demonstrate a wonderful dedication to the families and have extremely high expectations for all children.
  • They fully understand, and superbly meet, the needs of the children and their families. There is a concerted approach to actively address barriers to learning, ensuring first-class inclusion
  • Managers place a high priority on providing high-quality teaching. The well-qualified staff work tirelessly as a team to collect and record detailed information about each child’s learning and development. They use this exceedingly well to help skilfully adapt learning to follow children’s interests
  • Partnerships with parents and carers are excellent. Parents speak very highly of the progress their children make at the nursery, particularly in their confidence and speech
  • Staff swiftly identify children at risk of falling behind and take prompt action to help close any gaps in their learning. As a result, all children make rapid progress
  • Key persons know the children in their care exceptionally well. Children develop very secure attachments with staff.
  • Children’s behaviour is exemplary.

Inspectors said: “Staff work incredibly closely together. They strongly motivate children across the age ranges, providing a rich and vibrant learning environment.

“They expertly use questioning to encourage children to think creatively and solve problems for themselves. Babies communicate delightfully with sounds and facial expressions.

“All children, including those who receive additional funding, excel in their learning. They acquire a superb range of skills in preparation for their future learning. Children show great curiosity and have a wonderful approach to learning.”

Centre manager Andi Brennan was delighted with the findings. She said: “This has been a huge team effort with every single one of us playing a part in this successful inspection, which recognises all our hard work.

“What the inspector saw is what we deliver every day and that is what is important to me. For my deputy Dionne Evers and room leaders Doni Allan and Amanda Donald this is especially rewarding as they started here as apprentices and this shows the opportunities staff have to progress, develop and flourish in what I feel is a great place to work.”