Thumbs up for new foundation unit

PUBLISHED: 10:26 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 22:36 15 June 2010

THERE is a new, exciting way to start school at Honiton Community Primary School and creativity and play is at the centre of the innovation.

THERE is a new, exciting way to start school at Honiton Community Primary School and creativity and play is at the centre of the innovation.A new Foundation Year Unit has opened, integrating the school's nursery and reception classes.An imaginative large, open teaching space, which brings the outdoors in, has been developed to give children a sense of nature, the local environment and the impetus to learn through having fun.Foundation stage leader Liz Threlfall, who teaches three days a week, says parents have given the new unit their support."We have re-zoned the whole space, so the children have a clear understanding of what happens and where."It's all about what they are interested in."There is phonic and number input every day, and reading and writing as well, but it is all about learning through play."We have set things up so we've got a good balance of direct teaching and free play."Inspiring children to think about conservation and the environment from a very young age are some special features, including a garden. The children have chosen what they want in the space.Emphasising the natural surroundings is an important part of the new unit's ethos."We are developing the children's interest of where they are from," said Ms Threlfall.Dens, indoors and outdoors, are all part of the fun. Children enjoy dressing up in their Fairy Den and exploring nature in a willow den.Ms Threlfall said: "We've just done a parent questionnaire and we've had a lot of positive feedback."We've got a rigorous record-keeping system, so parents can see exactly where their children are at."On the whole, I'd say most parents are pleased with the changes."When your Herald visited the school last week, foundation unit pupils were enjoying a talk on fire safety on bonfire night from Weston-super-Mare firefighter and crew manager Steve Nicholas, who lives in Honiton. They followed up his talk with a visit to Honiton Fire Station on Friday."We've looked at our day and our organisation and opened up the lunch club to nursery children, so parents can let their children stay for the whole day if they wish," said Ms Threlfall. "It fits in with parents working patterns and there is no charge.

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