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Parent Handbook

Dear Parent,

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you and your child to Seymour House. I believe your child is about to enter the most important stage in their development and I am pleased that you have chosen Seymour House to provide your nursery care and education through this period.

I know that your child’s time with us will be happy and fruitful. This welcome handbook is intended to provide you with the information you require in order that you and your child settle in smoothly and get the most out of your time with us.

Our aim is to provide the highest quality of service and this means practising the very best in parent-care, as well as child-care. I hope you will always find us ready to respond to you and your child’s needs. I look forward to meeting you.

Kind Regards,

Julie Player
Principal

 

1.  INTRODUCTION

The Seymour House Partnership was formed in 1988 when Julie Player opened the first Day Nursery School. Prior to that, parents faced a choice of either part time nursery education or full day care. Julie created a nursery offering integrated care and education under one roof, a formula that has proved extremely popular.

From the outset Seymour House chose to make the quality of care and education the factor that would set them apart. It is a policy that children, parents, employers and partner schools all value and this has enabled the Partnership to re-invest and fund over 20 years of growth and development. Seymour House now operate nine Day Nursery Schools across Essex making them the County’s leading independent provider of funded nursery education.

Seymour House is still a family led organisation and continues to innovate and invest in new services for young children and their families. Seymour House are part of the local Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership, members of the Pre-school Learning Alliance and the National Day Nurseries Association.

Seymour House has the best inspection record in the UK with all settings being judged “outstanding” in all areas by Ofsted in the last cycle of inspection. Parents are encouraged to read inspection reports, which are available on the Ofsted website and our website too.

Seymour House is committed to providing a fair, non discriminatory and consistent admissions policy. Seymour House works in partnership with parents and other agencies and in accordance with all relevant legislation. The team adheres to inclusive practice and each location has a specially trained Equality Named Co-ordinator (ENCO).

 

2.  NURSERY

At Seymour House we believe that the care and education of young children is not only complimentary but inseparable. Our aim is to work in partnership with you to provide continuity of care and education as your child progresses from home to nursery and then to school.

Settling In Visits
The first day at nursery can be a big step for parents as well as children and often it is parents who find it most difficult. To ensure that the transition from home to nursery is as smooth as possible, we encourage parents to visit the nursery with their child and spend some time with them in their home base room and meet their child’s Key Person. This enables you and your child to get to know the nursery team and begin to feel confident in the new surroundings.

Our approach to settling in visits is to be as flexible as possible in order to meet your child’s individual needs. Some children settle more quickly than others and therefore the number and length of sessions required can be discussed with you during your first settling in visit.

We encourage parents to share information about their child’s life. The Key Person responsible for settling your child into the nursery environment will spend time with you discussing your child’s needs and routines. For example, we may ask you about your child’s favourite foods, their achievements, sleep patterns, what helps soothe or comfort your child, what their favourite types of play/activities are and what you think might help your child in their first few moments apart from you.

All this information will help us to cater for your child’s individual needs and settle them into the nursery as smoothly as possible. It will also form the start of your child’s learning and development record, which will follow their progress throughout the nursery.

If your child attends another setting please tell us about this so with your permission we can share information about your child’s learning and development.

During the settling in visit we will ensure that you and your child are familiar with the surroundings for example showing you the garden, outdoor classroom, toilet facilities and where to find your child’s peg, this will help you both on your first day. We will also tell you about our documented policies and procedures and give you the opportunity to ask us any questions you may have.

What to Bring
The nursery provides all educational materials, linen, refreshments including snacks, lunch and afternoon tea. You should simply provide a spare change of clothes and any personal items your child may require. These should be in a small bag that can be hung on your child’s peg. For safety reasons plastic bags and drawstring bags are not permitted.

Parents with young children will also need to provide nappies, wipes or equivalent, and if required formula milk. Formula milk should be provided in ready to use cartons. We provide sterilised bottles and teats.

In the younger rooms where children spend a lot of time playing and crawling on the floor we promote for hygiene reasons a soft shoe policy. We suggest you provide your child with a separate pair of shoes for indoor and outdoor use.

Children should be dressed suitably for the nursery where they will take part in messy activities that involve paint, cornflour and glue. We have outdoor activities daily so suitable seasonal clothing is essential, for example, a warm coat, hat and wellington boots in the winter months and a hat and sun cream in the summer.

We ask that all clothing and personal items are clearly named. Unfortunately we can not take responsibility for personal items but we will do our best to ensure items are placed into your child’s bag at the end of the session.

The Nursery Environment
The nursery environment is warm and welcoming to children and adults. Children’s work is displayed throughout the nursery for everyone to enjoy and there is a wide range of positive images which include both genders and a variety of cultures and disabilities.

There is a photo board in the entrance area of the nursery so that you can easily recognise all team members. There is a Parent’s Notice Board which contains general reminders, information and advice on different topics and a further notice board in each home base room where planned activities, recent and forthcoming event information can also be found.

Each home base room is organised with appropriate facilities for the age and stage of development it caters for. Continuous provision allows for art and crafts, messy activities and sand and water play. We also provide book areas, cosy areas, mask making areas and ICT provision with interactive projectors in all settings.

Each home base room has adequate space where children can play, eat and rest appropriately. Children who need a rest or sleep during the day either sleep in cots or on sleep mats away from the children who are playing.

As well as planned activities being provided indoors and outdoors throughout the day, children are able to play with a large range of equipment which they are encouraged to access themselves safely.

Nappy changing areas are close to the children’s home base room and potties are also available for when children start toilet training. Toilet training is commenced in consultation with parents and with regard to the physiological development of the child.

The nursery toilets are child friendly; children using the toilets are accompanied by a team member until they can deal competently with their own toilet needs.

Home Base Group and Key Person
Your child will have a home base in which they can feel secure. A member of our nursery team will be your child’s Key Person. Your child’s Key Person will in partnership with you:

  • Build a special bond with you and your child, helping your child to feel confident and safe.
  • Meet the needs of your child, responding sensitively to their feelings, ideas and behaviour. For very young children it will usually be the Key Person who feeds and changes your child.
  • Observe and assess your child and plan appropriate activities relating to your child’s age and stage of development. Keep your child’s individual learning journey up to date and share this with you.
  • Talk to you regularly to ensure that your child’s needs are being met, invite you to contribute to planning activities and provide opportunity for you to be involved in nursery activities and events. We welcome you to bring in items from home, for example photos, postcards and drawings, to incorporate into your childs learning story.

As your child’s age and stage of development is monitored they may join a new home base. We will discuss progress with you and your child’s Key Person will organise settling in visits into the next home base and introduce you and your child to their new Key Person.

Transition to School
Although this may seem a long way into the future, rest assured we will help you and your child with the transition from nursery to school. As they approach school age, children will be given the opportunity to enjoy activities relating to starting school. They will be encouraged to raise questions, discuss any worries and have their feelings acknowledged by their Key Person. We work in partnership with feeder schools to share as much information as possible prior to your child starting school. Teachers are invited to visit the nursery to meet your child in this setting.

Communication
Communication at the beginning and the end of the session between parents and the Nursery Team is vital.

Daily Feedback
On a daily basis we will tell you what your child has been doing during the day and what activities they have particularly enjoyed.  We welcome you to tell us about your child’s weekend, holidays and special events. This information can often instigate play and help us plan further activities.  Children under two years of age also receive a Daily Report Card which details your child’s day. For example, what they have eaten, sleep times and nappy changes. This will be discussed with you and passed to you at the end of the day.

Newsletters
A termly newsletter is produced to keep parents up to date with developments both at Seymour House and in the world of early years, childcare and nursery education.

In addition each nursery produces a monthly bulletin which covers news relating to your particular location. In the bulletin you will find details relating to the areas of learning and development your child will be covering as well as details of forthcoming events.

Parents Information Evenings
Twice a year the nursery holds a Parents Information Evening. These evenings offer an opportunity for parents to access information about topical issues concerning early years care and education. Parents can discuss and look at what the children have been doing during the term. It is also an opportunity for parents with younger children to get a flavour of what will happen as their child progresses through the nursery.

External Trips and Special Visitors to the Nursery
We very much welcome visitors into the nursery to widen the children’s experiences; these are often linked to what the children are learning about at the time for example, the emergency services, a librarian, guide dogs for the blind. External trips may also be arranged from time to time.

Nutrition
The food our children eat affects every aspect of their lives, their mood, behaviour, growth and even their ability to concentrate. With this in mind a balanced, nutritious and varied menu is provided which is appealing and appetising to children.

To meet the needs of all children, special consideration is given to the dietary needs of babies and children with special dietary requirements or food allergies. The menu is regularly reviewed by the nursery’s Health and Well-being Co-ordinator.

The menu includes a mid morning and a mid afternoon snack, a cooked meal served at midday and for those children staying after 4pm a light tea.

Meals are served in small groups with supervision from the team, where social skills and appropriate independence can be developed. Fresh drinking water is always available for children of all ages. Older children are encouraged to help themselves.

For safety reasons we do not serve:

  • Honey for children under twelve months of age.
  • Nuts at any age.

The meals served each day are displayed on the menu board, if you would like a copy of the full menu please speak to your child’s Key Person.

Breast and Bottle Feeding
Breast feeding is encouraged and mothers are welcome to drop in throughout the day to breast feed whenever possible or to bring in expressed breast milk.

Where children are bottle fed formula milk this should be provided by the parent in ready to use cartons. Bottle fed babies are held and cuddled during feeds and feeding is seen as time for extra one to one interaction with their Key Person.

All feeding equipment, bottles, teats and trainer cups are provided and sterilised. Dummies are also sterilised, if provided. Bottle warmers are used to heat bottles where necessary.
Weaning takes places in accordance with health promotion recommendations and parent wishes. Puréed food is provided.

The team allow older babies to attempt to feed themselves promoting independence, such as encouraging babies to hold a spoon while being fed, whilst also ensuring that they eat and drink enough.
A daily record is kept of your baby’s food and fluid intake by way of a Daily Report Card which is passed to you at the end of the day.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The period from birth to the end of the Reception Year at school is known as the Early Years Foundation Stage. Children develop more quickly at this stage than at any other time in their lives and lay the foundations for life long learning. The EYFS framework describes how practitioners will work with the children and their families to support their development and learning. Early learning is the key to your child’s future helping them to:

  • Be healthy.
  • To be happy.
  • To feel safe.
  • To be successful.

Young children learn best through play and exploration. Our practitioners will provide your child with opportunities for appropriate play and learning experiences, as well as support for their stage of development. The activities that are provided will underpin the skills they need to work towards the Early
Learning Goals for each of the areas of learning by the end of their Reception Year at school:

  • Communication, Language and Literacy.
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
  • Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy.
  • Creative Development.
  • Physical Development.
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World.

Behaviour
Seymour House’s Behaviour Management Policy is to promote positive behaviour using positive approaches. The learning environment is designed to provide a stimulating, calm and inclusive setting. The aim is to build positive relationships with children and parents, understanding individual circumstances and
needs. There is a named person, the Behaviour Management Coordinator, in each nursery whose role is to support the team in creating an environment which fosters appropriate behaviour and respect for one another by ensuring that:

  • Children are given praise and encouragement while playing.
  • Children are helped to understand rules and boundaries and develop an understanding of right and wrong.
  • Indoor and outdoor activities are stimulating and interesting with opportunity for parallel and cooperative play to ensure that the children are fully engaged.
  • Children are given the opportunity to participate in large and small groups, particularly pairs to encourage partnership and cooperation.
  • Children are given the opportunity to persist in play and make and learn from mistakes without failure.
  • Children’s work is displayed in the nursery to celebrate each child’s achievements.
  • Children are given the opportunity for rest, relaxation or quiet time.
  • Children are encouraged to challenge bullying, name calling and harassment.

The methods used to manage children’s behaviour are developmentally appropriate, respecting individual children’s level of understanding and maturity. Our policy is that:

  • Activities are organised so that every child can achieve daily success thereby helping to remove any barriers to learning.
  • The team model respectful behaviour, for example, “please” and “thank you.”
  • Physical punishment will not be used or threatened.
  • Physical intervention will not be used unless it is necessary to prevent personal injury to the child, other children or an adult or serious damage to property. Any such incident will be recorded and parents will be informed of the incident on the day.
  • Children will not be sent out of the room by themselves.
  • No child will be singled out or humiliated.
  • Children will be given one to one adult support to help them understand why particular behaviour is unacceptable.
  • In cases of serious misbehaviour such as bullying, racial or other abuse the unacceptability of the behaviour will be made clear immediately by means of explanation not personal blame. Any such behaviour will be recorded and parents will be informed of the incident on the day.
  • Team members will not shout or raise their voices in a threatening manner.
  • They will be sensitive to and respect cultural expectations regarding the level of understanding and maturity.
  • Children’s behaviour will not be discussed with team members or parents in the presence of the child or others.

 

3.  WELFARE

Illness and Accidents
Children’s accidents are recorded in the Home Base Log. There are a number of qualified First Aiders on the premises at all times and all team members are trained in basic care and first aid. However should a child’s condition require more immediate, qualified attention and a parent is not contactable or would take
too long to collect their child, the team will seek immediate medical attention and remain with the child until the parent arrives. In such circumstances an Accident Report will be completed and shared
with the parents.

From time to time children may become unwell whilst at the nursery, if this should happen we will inform you immediately and agree a course of action. Seymour House follow the Guidance for Schools and Nurseries on Infection Control produced by the Health Protection Agency. Children may not attend nursery whilst infectious and in the event of sickness and diarrhoea, may not be admitted for 48 hours.

Medicines
Seymour House will administer prescribed medicines if the Nursery Manager feels that the team have been given sufficient information and training to do so. A temperature reducing medicine such as Calpol will be given as a single dose in an emergency provided we have written consent from a parent or guardian. A record of all medication administered to children is kept by the nursery.

Severe Allergies
If your child has a severe allergy that will result in anaphylaxis, the Nursery Manager in consultation with the child’s Key Person will carry out a risk assessment at the settling in visit. A care plan and procedures will also be agreed with you based on the medical information given to us. We will work with medical professionals such as health visitors to meet the needs of the child.

The Key Person will issue disposable wrist bands for your child to wear whilst at the nursery. As parents it is your responsibility to ensure that your child is wearing the wrist band when attending the nursery. The team are fully trained in our established procedures for allergies and these together with the wrist band will alert our team members that your child has a severe allergy.

Vaccination
Children should be fully vaccinated for their own protection and the protection of others who are either too young or unable to be vaccinated. However, this is not a condition; so parents should be aware that there may be children attending that have not been vaccinated.

Meeting Special Educational Needs and Supporting Children with Additional Needs
Please see our Local Offer by clicking the link at the bottom of the page

Fundamental Principles for Practice
The views of young childen will be sought and taken into account as appropriate to their age and understanding. A child with special educational needs will be offered full access to a broad, balanced
and purposeful Early Years Foundation Stage. Practitioners will work in close cooperation with the child’s parents, other agencies and follow a multi disciplinary approach to the resolution of issues. Interventions for each child will be reviewed regularly to assess their impact, the child’s progress and the views of the child.

Confidentiality
As childcare professionals we recognise that we have a duty to respect and observe the confidentiality of the children and their families. Seymour House will not divulge any information unless specifically authorised to do so or where required by child protection procedures. Parents will be given free access to all written records about their children, except in exceptional cases where data protection laws stipulate it is against the best interests of the child to do so.

Data Protection
Seymour House comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. From time to time Early Years Settings are legally required to pass on certain information they hold on children to Local Authorities and certain agencies prescribed by law. This information helps those Local Authorities and agencies to administer education and children’s services. Essex County Council have produced an indepth document for parents regarding how information gathered from parents is used. A copy of this document is available in the
nursery on request.

Child Protection Policy Statement
Seymour House recognise that the welfare, safety and protection of children are paramount. The key commitments of Seymour House are:

  • To build a culture of safety in which children are protected from abuse and harm in all areas.
  • To respond promptly and appropriately to all incidents or concerns of abuse that may occur and to work with statutory agencies in accordance with the Joint Child Protection Procedures.
  • The team will respond appropriately to significant changes in children’s behaviour, deterioration in their general wellbeing, unexplained bruising, marks or signs of possible abuse, neglect and any comments children may make which give cause for concern.
  • Seymour House is committed to promoting awareness of child protection issues through its training programmes. It is also committed to empowering young children through our curriculum promoting their resilience and right to be listened to by protecting their physical and psychological well being.
  • We create within the locations a culture of value and respect for the individual, having positive regard for children’s heritage arising from their colour, ethnicity, languages spoken at home, cultural and social background.
  • Policies and procedures will apply to all children regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or religion. We ensure that this is carried out in a way that is developmentally appropriate.

Designated Person
All those who come into contact with children and their families have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and take steps to prevent the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of all children with whom they may come into contact with. There is a specially trained designated person in each location typically the Manager who is responsible for child protection issues and for liaising with the appropriate agencies.

Seymour House adhere to ‘What to do if you are worried a child is being abused’ and the SET (Southend, Essex and Thurrock) Joint Child Protection Procedures.
www.escb.org.uk

 

4. PARTNERSHIP WITH PARENTS

Seymour House aim to be the best and most successful provider of early years care and education. In order to achieve this we must look after our customers, which means practising the very best parentcare
as well as childcare. Improving our service depends on our ability to listen to and respond to our customers, both big and small.

Parent Feedback
The quickest way to provide feedback is to speak to a member of the team or your child’s Key Person. A concern can often be relieved or a problem solved most easily by talking about it at an early stage. Our team are trained to listen and respond in a professional manner, so please do not feel inhibited. Beyond that the Nursery Manager should be able to address any concerns you may have.

Alternatively, we invite you to tell us what is wrong, tell us what you like or put forward an idea by filling in one of our feedback forms. Our feedback forms are available on our website, in the nursery or if you prefer simply contact the Principal direct, or OFSTED, whose contact details are displayed in each location
and at the back of this handbook. A record of all complaints is maintained and appropriate information from that record is shared with parents upon request.

Receiving and Releasing Children in our Care
It is imperative that parents work closely with us and support the procedures that are in place.

  • A child will only be released into the care of someone who is known to be the child’s parent/guardian or an appropriately authorised person. If parents wish to authorise another person to collect their child this should be in writing. In the nursery, photographs should be provided for all authorised persons including parents; we also have a password procedure.
  • If an unauthorised person comes to collect your child we will endeavour to telephone you. If we have any doubts access will be refused.
  • Parents must always sign their child in the register when they enter the premises and again when they come to collect their child.
  • Parents must adhere to our controlled entrance procedure in order to ensure the safety of all the children in our care. Only members of the nursery team are permitted to open the door to allow access into the setting. It is strictly forbidden for parents to open the door and allow access to others, including parents they may recognise.

In the unlikely event of a child becoming lost or unaccounted for whilst in our care an immediate and thorough search of the area will be made. If the child has not been located police and parents will be informed immediately.

Joint Parental Responsibility
In the event of a family dispute between parents, there are clear legal procedures which childcare providers must follow:

  • Parents of a child who are married have equal rights over their child (joint parental  responsibility) unless we are informed otherwise by way of a court order or through Social Services.
  • Similarly, unmarried parents have the same rights over their child provided the father is registered as the child’s father after 1st December 2003.

It is important to note that unmarried fathers pre-dating 1st December 2003 do not share the same rights (joint parental responsibility) as the child’s mother who has sole parental responsibility, unless the father is able to produce a court order or legal document stating he has parental responsibility.

Late Collection of a Child
Children can become upset if their routine is changed and it is therefore important to collect your child on time. If you are going to be late please inform us as soon as possible. In the event a child is left beyond the normal closing times, two team members will remain with your child. After one hour, if you have not been in contact and we have not been able to contact you or any of the authorised persons recorded on your child’s registration form, the Manager/Senior Manager will assess the situation and then contact the Duty Social Worker.

 

5.  FEES

Fees are charged monthly in advance and are due on or before the first day of each month. For term time only attendance fees are charged for each half of the three school terms and due on or before the last day of the previous half term. You will receive an invoice each month or each half term.

Electronic payment of fees is always the preferred method of payment. Fees can be paid using online banking facilities or by completing a standing order mandate, which are available from the Nursery Manager. For the safety of our team we do not accept cash in payment of fees.

When making payment we ask that you always quote your Child ID as the reference, this can be found at the top of your invoice. Please also return the Payment Advice Slip at the bottom of your invoice so that we know how your fees are being paid.  Fees are reviewed annually and usually in the spring term.

Nursery Education Grant
All children are eligible for five, two and a half hour sessions of state funded nursery education per week over thirty-eight weeks of the year from the beginning of the term after their third birthday. Parents who seek integrated care and education can access this funding at Seymour House, and the value of the funding will automatically be deducted from their fees.

Tax Credits
Nine out of ten families are eligible for Child Tax Credit. The benefit is based on the family’s household circumstances, dependant on your income as well as various other factors, for example how many children you have, whether you work and how many hours you work and if you pay for childcare. For further advice or to receive a claim pack visit www.hrmc.gov.uk/taxcredits

Childcare Grant
Full time students with dependant children may be eligible for a Childcare Grant. The amount will depend on their income and will not erode entitlement to other benefits. Students should apply through their Local Education Authority or via www.childcarelink.gov.uk

Paying for Childcare
Direct payments of childcare costs by employers or via childcare vouchers are exempt from income tax and National Insurance up to a maximum of £243 per month (2009/2010). This saves employees between £18 and £46 per week, depending on their tax rate and whether one or both parents pay this way. Parents
may ask for part of their salary to be sacrificed in return for direct payment or childcare vouchers whilst the employer will save on Employers National Insurance too. Parents who choose this method of payment remain responsible for the whole fee until payment is received. Further information is available on our website www.seymourhouse.co.uk

Direct Payment
Employers may contract directly with Seymour House to provide childcare for employees through a Childcare Agreement. The documentation to enable employers to facilitate direct payment is available as a download from our website www.seymourhouse.co.uk

Vouchers
Whilst we do not accept paper vouchers, we do accept electronic settlement from most of the major childcare voucher scheme operators. Please note that each nursery has a separate reference number, shown in the table below. If your employer uses another voucher scheme please contact the Nursery Manager prior to setting up payments to see if we can accept these. An administration fee may be applied.

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