Community is the key to success for Airth Primary School’s nursery

Happy partners...the nursery has developed many links in the village, not least with parents and Airthrey Care Nursing Home. And many of those partners visited the nursery on Monday to celebrate its exceptional Care Inspectorate report. (Pics: Michael Gillen).
Happy partners...the nursery has developed many links in the village, not least with parents and Airthrey Care Nursing Home. And many of those partners visited the nursery on Monday to celebrate its exceptional Care Inspectorate report. (Pics: Michael Gillen).

Four years ago, new parents Robert and Kathleen Fotheringham decided to move from Falkirk to Airth.

Their sole reason for doing so? The excellent reputation of Airth Primary School’s nursery.

No regrets...New parents Kathleen and Robert Fotheringham moved to Airth four years ago to ensure Taylor, who is now five, could attend Airth Primary School's nusery. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

No regrets...New parents Kathleen and Robert Fotheringham moved to Airth four years ago to ensure Taylor, who is now five, could attend Airth Primary School's nusery. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

The couple, who both work as warehouse operatives at Asda, have never regretted the decision.

For their wee boy Taylor (5) loves the nursery and its dedicated staff.

So the Fotheringhams were delighted when it received a glowing report, following an unannounced Care Inspectorate visit last September.

In October 2015, the nursery received five star (very good) ratings for its quality of care, support and staffing.

Inter-generational play...Dora Bryant (87) happily plays with a nursery pupil. She is one of many Airthrey Care Nursing Home residents who enjoys popping in to see the pupils, in addition to their regular visits to the home. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Inter-generational play...Dora Bryant (87) happily plays with a nursery pupil. She is one of many Airthrey Care Nursing Home residents who enjoys popping in to see the pupils, in addition to their regular visits to the home. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

While it retained a very good rating for staff, in the latest report it received the highest rating possible, a six for excellence, for its quality of care and support.

On Monday, pupils, staff, parents and the nursery’s community partners joined forces to celebrate the news.

Staff and residents from Airthrey Care Nursing Home, childminders from the village and parents all took time out to share their views on the nursery.

Among their number were Taylor’s parents.

Kathleen said: “My brother’s children came to the school so we’d heard a lot of good things about it.

“When we had Taylor, we decided to move. We came here because of the good reports and reputation the nursery and school had.

“Taylor loves it – not once has he said he doesn’t want to go to nursery!”

Robert loves being able to join his son on outings.

He said: “I’ve been to the Father’s Day events and trips to the Pineapple.

“I love being able to spend that time with Taylor.”

Parents are kept up to date on their child’s progress via a digital learning journey.

It documents the wee one’s individual needs, interests, preferences, family and immediate world around them, as well as their daily education.

Robert added: “It’s not just once a year at parents’ night that we find out how Taylor is getting on.

“The nursery keeps us regularly informed and we’re welcome to pop in too.

“We really feel part of the community here.”

Airthrey Care Nursing Home residents and staff also spoke highly of the links the nursery has nurtured.

Carol-Ann Dillon, the activity co-ordinator, said: “We have one gentleman who never interacts with anyone.

“But when the pupils came along, he sat for 40 minutes drawing with this wee boy. Neither of them spoke but they really connected via the drawing.

“I was quite emotional; it was magical to see that.

“We’ve got an open invite to pop in whenever we want and often do! The pupils also come along to the home.

“It’s particularly nice for residents who can’t see their own grandchildren all the time or for those who don’t have any.

“It really helps to brighten up their day.”

Dora Byrant (87) loves spending time with the wee ones and happily played with the children during our visit.

Her daughter, Janette Kean, said: “I used to be a teacher so I’m very much in favour of the links the nursery has developed.

“Mum loves coming to the nursery and it’s good for the children too as they get to interact with older people.”

Anne Douglas, the nursery’s senior early years officer, believes it also teaches the children an important lesson.

She said: “Some of the wee ones don’t regularly see their grandparents so they learn to respect older people.

“They love going along to Airthrey – their faces light up when they are there, playing or singing with the residents.

“It’s lovely to see how it benefits both the children and residents.”

Pupils have also learned to help younger children, thanks to the nursery’s weekly Baby Book Club.

Anne said: “The club is for children aged from birth to three years old.

“Parents and a number of childminders in the village bring their wee ones here.

“It helps toddlers get used to nursery before they come here and our pupils like looking after the wee ones.”

Mhairi Lynch is one of the childminders who has benefited from the club.

She said: “The links the nursery has developed in the community are amazing.

“The nursery deserves recognition for all the hard work it does.”

But it was the community Dr Lynsey Burke, Airth Primary’s depute head teacher, wanted to thank.

She said: “We’re proud to be part of such a fabulous community and would like to thank everyone for their continued support.”

They say it takes a village to raise a child; Airth’s surely a shining example of that.