This is a copy of the 2008 Ofsted report for St Marks Square Nursery School, St Marks Church, Regents Park, London, NW1 7TN


Inspection report for early years provision

Unique Reference Number: 100604
Inspection date: 17 March 2008
Inspector: Catherine Greene
Setting Address:
St Marks Church, Regents Park, London, NW1 7TN
Telephone number: 020 7586 8383
Registered person: Sheema Parsons
Type of inspection: Integrated
Type of care: Full day care

About this inspection
The purpose of this inspection is to assure government, parents and the public of the quality of childcare and, if applicable, of nursery education. The inspection was carried out under Part XA Children Act 1989 as introduced by the Care Standards Act 2000 and, where nursery education is provided, under Schedule 26 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

This report details the main strengths and any areas for improvement identified during the inspection. The judgements included in the report are made in relation to the outcomes for children set out in the Children Act 2004; the National Standards for under 8s day care and childminding; and, where nursery education is provided, the Curriculum guidance for the foundation stage.
The report includes information on any complaints about the childcare provision which Ofsted has received since the last inspection or registration or 1 April 2004 whichever is the later.
The key inspection judgements and what they mean
this aspect of the provision is of exceptionally high quality
this aspect of the provision is strong
this aspect of the provision is sound
this aspect of the provision is not good enough
For more information about early years inspections, please see the booklet Are you ready for your inspection? which is available from Ofsted's website: www.ofsted.gov.uk.


On the basis of the evidence collected on this inspection:
The quality and standards of the care are good. The registered person meets the National Standards for under 8s day care and childminding.
The quality and standards of the nursery education are good.


St. Marks Square Nursery School opened in 1983. It operates from a church hall, within a residential area. The nursery serves the local area and is registered to provide care for 30 children with no more than seven aged five. There are currently 43 children on roll, this includes 29 funded children.

The nursery supports children who speak English as an additional language and those with learning difficulties and or disabilities.

The nursery opens from 09:00 to 15:30. Offering a variety of sessions, five days a week, term time only.

Seven members of staff work directly with the children. They have a variety of qualifications in early years.

Helping children to be healthy

The provision is good. Children are nurtured exceptionally well and cared for in a clean environment. They develop a positive understanding of healthy practices through consistent routines. All staff, including the proprietor are hands on, they are pro-active in their cleaning routines in order to ensure that the environment is suitable for children. Staff thoroughly clean toys and resources at regular intervals throughout the year.

Children are developing their self-care skills and follow good personal hygiene procedures; they wash their hands before eating, after toileting and playing outside. Children's individual, personal care routines are respected and staff know how to make them feel secure and comfortable. Good procedures and documentation are in place to help protect children if they are ill. Staff are sensitive and caring, they promptly deal with any accidents and record and share the information with parents. There is an efficient system in place for administering medication to children to safeguard children�s welfare, including parental consents. The required documentation is in place to record any accidents. Staff have current first aid certificates to ensure children receive appropriate treatment in the event of an accident.

Children develop a positive attitude to physical exercise and outdoor activities, they play outside each day and good use is made of the available space in the church gardens. Children participate in energetic large group games where staff are creative, using a parachute to engage children as a whole group. They learn a sense of space, having great fun as they work as a team to keep the parachute in the air and run underneath, enjoying the feeling of enclosure. The timetable ensures that children enjoy physical activities every session, playing a variety of games both indoors and in the outdoor space. Children are able to rest when they need to because there is a comfortable area with a sofa and cushions for them to relax on. They are developing competency using a good range of small equipment which includes scissors, pencils and paintbrushes.

Packed lunches provided by parents are varied and nutritious. Staff contribute to the good health of the children in a variety of ways. They have extensive knowledge about health and nutrition and use their skill to provide children with wholesome snacks. Children are encouraged to eat healthily and drinks are readily accessible. Meal times are social occasions where children and staff sit together to talk about their day and plans for the afternoons activities. Topics and project work raise children's awareness about the importance of healthy eating.

Protecting children from harm or neglect and helping them stay safe

The provision is good. The premises are made bright and welcoming for children. Children�s art work, interesting posters and photographs are on display throughout which makes a child centred and attractive environment. There is a varied selection of toys and resources for children to use, including a well stocked art area for messy play. Children are positively encouraged to be creative and use their imagination. They can independently access the resources which encourages their choice, self-selection and spontaneous creativity. Children are able to explore their surroundings in safety and comfort because staff take good practical precautions and set realistic safety boundaries with children. Staff carry out regular safety checks and work closely together to minimise any safety risks. They are very well deployed and ensure children behave in a responsible way. They positively encourage older children to consider the safety of the younger age group.

Effective systems are in place for the safe arrival and departure of children. Thorough risk assessments are carried out on the transportation of children and on all venues where trips are undertaken. Well established policies and procedures are in place to manage any emergency situations. Children benefit from a spacious environment that is free from obvious safety hazards. They also benefit from a good range of safety measures which include fire safety precautions such as, frequently practised emergency evacuation drill and visitors are carefully monitored.

Children are protected by staff who have a sound knowledge and understanding of child protection. Their awareness is maintained and updated through training. The nursery has a written policy and procedure, staff are aware of the steps to take if they have any concerns about children in their care. This promotes the importance of children�s welfare. The policy will be reviewed to ensure that it is in line with changes to guidance and legislation.

Helping children achieve well and enjoy what they do

The provision is good. Children are cared for by friendly and approachable staff. They benefit from the warm and positive responses they receive as they approach staff throughout the session. They happily take part in activities and confidently explore their environment and make choices. They enjoy many activities, including creative construction and board games. They have opportunities to explore a range of media, such as modelling clay and collage materials. They express their own ideas and thoughts through imaginary games and arts and crafts, staff are engaged and able to play imaginatively with children. Resources are made easily accessible on tables and in low level storage units, promoting the children's independence. Children are eager to join in, happy to leave their parents and keen to tell them what they have done when they are collected. Adults provide a calm environment where children are happy and confident; they ensure that children are well informed about what is going on through discussion time, where children choose what to do. This ensures that children are included and valued. Staff are very creative and encourage children to express themselves through drama, music and art.

The good humour of the staff and ability to promote children�s enjoyment is a strength of the nursery. Children dress-up and sing songs, encouraged by the staff team. Good relationships are evident between adults and children. Children talk assertively to staff who respond appropriately, creating a friendly atmosphere. Children confidently go to any of the familiar adults to receive comfort and cuddles. They have friends and play alongside each other happily.

Staff have a good awareness of the Birth to three Framework and the Foundation Stage curriculum and use the guidance to plan interesting and stimulating activities for the children. The nursery observes and records children�s overall development and specific interests. This method ensures the staff are aware of children�s progress to plan activities which will encourage their next stage of development.

Nursery Education

The quality of teaching and learning is good. The children are keen to learn and participate in the range of activities offered which are well organised and accessible to children on table tops or at floor level. Staff use an appropriate range of teaching methods with the children to support their learning across the curriculum and demonstrate a good knowledge of how children learn and develop. Children are treated as active partners in their learning and are given the opportunity to pursue their interests. The activities are evaluated to establish their value and success in providing a learning outcome for the children. As a consequence children make good progress.

Children are beginning to link sounds and letters as they make good attempts at writing words. There are many opportunities for children to write spontaneously in a role play situation, they help themselves to the available paper and pencils. They write letters to each other in the �office� and are confident to tell their own stories. The staff extend children�s learning by asking questions and enabling children to predict what might happen next in the story, they learn that stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Children can recognise their name in print as they collect and post their name cards to register they are present at each session. There are letters and numerals around the room to promote children�s recognition of words and numbers in print. Children are keen and show an interest in books, they self select from a good variety. They enjoy the comfort as they relax spontaneously with books on the sofa.

Children are gaining a significant understanding of the wider world through planned activities and celebrating festivals such as the festivals of light, Hanukah and Diwali. Walks into the local area and to places of interest, such as museums and art galleries, effectively promote children�s interest in the world around them. Children learn new skills by using equipment in everyday situations, such as the cassette player and camera. However, they have limited access to a computer and there are currently few opportunities for children to develop an understanding of or interest in, technology.

Children count well individually and in group situations. They know how old they are and how old they will be at their next birthday. Children have the opportunity to complete simple calculations as the adults ask questions such as, 'there are eight eggs left, how many more do we need'? Children recognise shapes well as they play an enjoyable game of �memory�, finding the correct colour and shape to fit.

The children can use their imagination and creativity in art and craft activities. Their art work is displayed and valued by staff. Care is taken to allow arts and crafts to be taken home and the invaluable blue books create a link between home and nursery and thereby foster children's self-esteem. Children are friendly, helpful and cooperative, they tidy away when asked. They are developing useful social skills and staff act as good role models for the children.

Helping children make a positive contribution

The provision is good. Children feel a sense of belonging because they are highly respected by all staff who value each child�s individuality. Their key person takes time to get to know families so that they are able to meet children�s individual needs well. The staff team has been consistent for a number of years, offering stability to the children and confidence to the parents as children are cared for by staff they know well.

All staff are able to promptly recognise if children do not appear to be reaching their developmental milestones. There is a nominated person in the nursery with additional training, knowledge and skills to coordinate support for children with additional needs. A policy of inclusion ensures children of all abilities are fully included in nursery life.

Children confidently initiate conversation with the staff and develop a sense of belonging. They have many opportunities to voice their opinions and put forward ideas. Children are learning about the traditions and values of others by being involved in project work and celebrating different cultural festivals. They are able to appreciate the multicultural society in which they live and the wider world through the range of resources and planned activities which promote positive attitudes. All children are very excited and looking forward to the Easter celebrations. The children prepare greeting cards for their families and discuss with staff what they will be doing for the holiday. Food plays an important part in the nursery and during the many festivals celebrated.

Children behave very well. Staff act as good role models, speaking to children with kindness. Children settle well in their routine and happily tidy away toys when asked. Each session the children and staff gather together in a circle of greeting which sets the pattern for the day. Children�s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is fostered very well.

Partnership with parents and carers is good. Children benefit from the positive relationships which are evident between staff and parents, ensuring continuity of care between home and nursery. Parents receive good quality written information about the nursery on the website, newsletter, policies and procedures and on the notice-board. This strengthens the bond between parents who have children in the nursery and fosters a sense of community and cooperation. Information about the Early Years curriculum is included in the parents handbook and is also on display around the room with photographs of activities. The detailed assessment folders completed by each child�s key person are available for parents to read at any time. Children's blue books are carefully completed and provide a lovely insight into each child's journey as they progress. Parents are eager to contribute to the inspection process and state they are very pleased with the staff team, the progress their children are making and that their children look forward to attending the nursery.


The organisation is good. Children benefit from staff who work as a cohesive team and have a commitment to continually improving their practice within the setting. Staff are actively encouraged to attend a variety of training which ensures they keep up to date with current childcare practice. High staff: child ratios are maintained to effectively support and safeguard children throughout the day. The staff team obviously get along and enjoy working with each other; this provides a secure and caring environment for the children. The space is well organised and used to effectively maximise care and learning opportunities.

Robust systems are in place for the vetting and recruitment of staff working directly with children. This ensures children are protected and cared for by staff who are suitable and have a knowledge and understanding of child development. The record keeping systems effectively promote children�s health, safety, welfare and individual needs. All regulatory documentation is in place, up to date with the exception of the child protection procedure which does not refer to Local Safeguarding boards or the regulator. All files are efficiently kept and stored securely to maintain confidentiality. Written policies and procedures support the staff in their practical work and safeguard children�s welfare effectively.

Leadership and management are good. Staff demonstrate a secure knowledge of the Early Years curriculum and are involved in planning the curriculum to help children develop. Staff meet regularly to discuss children�s progress. They understand their roles and responsibilities and the key person system ensures children�s developmental records are maintained accurately to record children�s ability and achievement. The proprietor and senior managers clearly identify staff's responsibilities with regard to the provision. They are highly effective at assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the nursery through assessment of parent evaluation and feedback. This shows a commitment to evaluative practice and an ability to plan for and secure future improvements.

Staff demonstrate a clear understanding of the nursery�s strengths and value each other and the consistent staff team. They are aware of the need for continual improvement and have already highlighted the benefit to children of more opportunity to become familiar with technology in everyday use. The provision meets the needs of the range of the children for whom it provides.

Improvements since the last inspection
At the last care inspection the provider was asked to develop resources that promote equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice. In addition, at the last nursery education inspection it was recommended that the nursery make more use of the information that parents share with staff, about what their child has learnt at home.

Since the last inspection, improvements have been made to benefit the children. There is a good selection of equipment which promote positive images. Staff communicate regularly with parents, who are fully included in any dialogue regarding their child's development.

Complaints since the last inspection
Since the last inspection there have been no complaints made to Ofsted that required the provider or Ofsted to take any action in order to meet the National Standards. The provider is required to keep a record of complaints made by parents, which they can see on request. The complaints record may contain complaints other than those made to Ofsted.


On the basis of the evidence collected on this inspection:
The quality and standards of the care are good. The registered person meets the National Standards for under 8s day care and childminding.
The quality and standards of the nursery education are good.


The quality and standards of the care
To improve the quality and standards of care further the registered person should take account of the following recommendation(s):

continue to ensure that documents, policies and procedures reflect current practice and any changes to requirements or legislation ensure that the child protection procedure complies with those of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). The quality and standards of the nursery education To improve the quality and standards of nursery education further the registered person should take account of the following recommendation(s):

Develop the provision of information and communication technology and programmable toys to support children's learning and ensure they find out about and show an interest in technology in everyday use. Any complaints about the inspection or the report should be made following the procedures set out in the leaflet Complaints about Ofsted Early Years: concerns or complaints about Ofsted's role in regulating and inspecting childcare and early education (HMI ref no 2599) which is available from Ofsted's website: www.ofsted.gov.uk