What the inspectors saw - Good practice spotted by Ofsted

1st March 2013 at 00:00
Polylingualism: Gloucestershire College Day Nursery

In brief

The nursery has a broad ethnic mix, with children speaking a total of 15 languages. While some are bilingual, others arrive unable to speak or understand English. Nursery staff use the range of languages as an integral part of their teaching.

The project

All staff are trained in equality and diversity, are knowledgeable about the children's backgrounds and understand how best to support children who are learning English as an additional language.

Staff use their own cultural, linguistic and economic experiences to engage with parents and carers, who are all actively involved in their children's learning and can see that their culture and languages are valued. Dual-language books are shared with the children and can be taken home.

Posters depicting positive images of people from different cultures, ethnicities and genders and with disabilities are displayed around the nursery and the children's languages are used on wall displays in classrooms, corridors and outdoor play areas.

Each display includes comments from staff, children, parents and carers describing their contribution to the nursery's activities. Toys, puzzles, musical instruments and dolls reflect the variety of family backgrounds in the school, while multicultural activities raise children's awareness of their own and other cultures.

Activities are planned around cultural and religious celebrations. Parents and carers bring in items from home to enhance the children's experiences. All areas of learning are considered in planning activities around themes such as "Chinese New Year - the Year of the Dragon".

Staff, parents and carers, and bilingual helpers work together to help children improve their English and other languages. Staff learn key words from the children's languages and place translations around the rooms. They use picture cards and other visual aids, and basic sign language to communicate with children who speak little or no English.

Suzanne Parr, the nursery manager, and Judy Wade, the nursery coordinator, continually review the support tools and look for new initiatives to trial. One idea that has worked well is "communication key fobs": each teacher carries a set of small photo-cards on a key ring attached to their clothes. Children who are unable to speak English point to a card depicting what they want to express. In response, staff will say what the child is asking for in English, helping them to learn new words and phrases.

Signs of success

Good teamwork between staff, parents and carers, and bilingual workers means that children develop their use of English and other languages. Children make excellent progress in communication, language and literacy, as well as in personal, social and emotional development.

"The staff are highly motivated to promote nurturing, care and learning for every child that attends nursery," Parr says.

What the inspectors said

"Children's home languages are used well ... The children's progress can be clearly attributed to the interaction, support and challenge provided by the staff. Children receive outstanding care and provision for their learning. Inclusive practice is ingrained in the nursery's ethos and it is difficult to identify those children for whom English is an additional language, or those who have additional needs."

Read the full Ofsted case study report at bit.lyRWFrPW


Name: Gloucestershire College Day Nursery

Location: Gloucester

Type: Privately owned nursery

Age range: 3 months to 5 years

Number of pupils: Up to 82

Intake: Ethnically diverse.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today