The Pre-school and Toddlers this spring have been focusing on animals and insects. We had the pleasure of seeing some ducks and chicks been hatched. We learnt how to stroke them nicely and talk about how they get bigger and bigger. We sadly had to say bye and off back to the farm they went. We created a lovely bug hotel to place in our willow garden to welcome more insects and bugs for us to look at . With having some lovely weather this spring it has allowed us to plant some seeds and watch them grow each day and watch our garden bloom with different flowers.

This month the Daisy room have been focussing on all things Spring. During the month, we have experienced lots of different types of weather from lovely sunshine to pouring rain and we have enjoyed cloud gazing and planting in the warm weather and rain catching and splashing in puddles in the wet weather. We have also watched baby ducks hatch and grow in front of our eyes and been able to stroke them and take them outside so they can go swimming. We've done lots of messy activities such as sunshine painting and playing in colourful shaving foam and also lots of mark making on big pieces of paper stuck to the floor.

Fun in the sun is our summer headline!

An all year round focus for our settings is outdoor play. Without exception our gardens and play spaces offer extended learning opportunities for all ages, across all sites. We invest heavily in play suits enabling children to enjoy all weathers whilst being supported by staff who actively encourage development of curiosity and exploration throughout the seasons thus allowing children to thrive both cognately and physically. But there is something about the summer…

Babies rooms have already explored outdoor sleeping with their children, snuggled in their sleeping bags under home-made canopies, just such a lovely site to see! Toddlers and Pre-school children take full advantage of their day often being outside as early at 7.30am setting up activities, preparing resources, generally getting ready for their day of adventure which often doesn’t end until 6pm. Eating ‘al fresco’ is the norm irrespective of the meal and laughter, language and excited noise can be heard when entering our grounds.

Curricular learning is extended through nature, planting, bug hunts, discussion, looking and listening and the many opportunities their natural habitat extends….measuring worms was on the agenda recently, so simple but enchanted a small group of children. Playing within such wonderful spaces is without doubt an extraordinary chance to ensure mental wellbeing is harnessed and fostered…oh those lucky children!

Forget those suits…it’s time to for sun hats and sunscreen, please remember to supply hats and your own sunscreen if the one offered by nursery is not suitable for your child due to sensitivity or allergies.

Pre-school of course spend a large proportion of the term working on school readiness with those who are leaving us for their next step on the education ladder. School uniforms in dressing up boxes, role play scenarios, story telling and circle time sessions to discuss change and what to expect on first days at school, etc. Individual nurseries will inform parents of dates when children may be partaking in simple routine changes such as lining up for lunch, changing for a little PE session and of course any visits from reception teachers that may have been arranged. There is also a pre-school trip being organised and it goes without saying a leaving party is a must.

Home learning packs are being designed by all rooms and will be available to take home from the middle of July. Varying in content their use can be explained by key-persons and or room leaders should you wish for more information. An education resource to be shared in the home, which can be borrowed overnight or for a while longer if required. Ideal for the summer break for those going on holiday perhaps or children who are term time only. These will be available for families through-out summer and beyond and please feel to give feedback once up and running along with suggestions for packs which may enhance your child’s particular interests.

Watch for outdoor lending libraries which we are hoping to implement in the coming months. You will have seen similar ones within your local community where you take a book and leave one at the same time? We will supply a good selection of children’s books to start the process for you to use as and when you feel the need…every little helps when it comes to developing our children’s love for books, language and learning.


Every family faces challenges, some more difficult to manage than others.

Thriving Kirklees offer a variety services for Families.

Examples of some of the services and support for families include:

Volunteer home-visiting support

(for any families in Kirklees with a child under 5 years not yet in full time education)

Families referred to Home-Start Kirklees are offered a trained volunteer to support weekly by visiting the family in their home for 2-3 hours. Volunteers can offer practical help and emotional support to parents who maybe need someone to talk to and are feeling low due to issues that any family can face.

Volunteers are carefully matched to families and offer support for as long as it is needed, as long as the youngest child in the home is under 5 years old and not in full time education.

Home-Start Co-ordinators supervise the volunteers and keep in touch with families to ensure that they receive the right support. They review the family’s needs every three months.

Home-Start support is confidential and is tailored to meet the needs of individual families. Parents can choose to have Home-Start support and can either self-refer or can be referred by a professional who is already supporting the family.

Affordable warmth

Home-Start families are assessed at initial visit to determine whether they require essential items to keep themselves warm in the winter season. Home-Start will provide new items of duvets, bedding, coats, hats, scarves for the children and curtains etc. should the family have no means to provide for themselves which would leave them vulnerable in the colder months.

Safety in the Home Service

Eligible* families living in Kirklees with children under 2 years old are provided with free home safety equipment, which is fitted in their home. The safety equipment supplied includes: safety gates, fire guard, bath mat, cupboard locks, corner cushions, blind cord winders and window restrictors.

Families also receive:

· a free home fire safety check

· new smoke detectors fitted where required

· child accident prevention and home fire safety information and advice

*To be eligible families must live in Kirklees, have a child under 2 years old and be in receipt of benefits, or be on a child in need/protection plan. For the full list of eligibility criteria please visit http://yorkshirechildrenscentre.org.uk/our-services/support-for-families/safety-home/

Child Accident Prevention

YCC leads on child accident prevention work within the Thriving Kirklees partnership. Current work relates to upskilling 0-19 professionals, schools, and even families themselves, on how to prevent childhood accidents.

YCC and Kirklees Safeguarding Children’s Board (KSCB) work in partnership to provide free Child Accident Prevention E-Learning, which is on the KSCB website (www.kirkleessafeguardingchildren.co.uk).

This E-Learning course enables professionals, parents and carers to:

· Identify risks in the home and elsewhere that are the common causes of accidents for children

· Describe steps you are able to take in order to reduce the risk of a child having an accident

· Make, or support families to make, changes to keep children safe

To request support for families and young people: - Thriving Kirklees website www.thrivingkirklees.org.uk

Or telephone SPoC (Single Point of Contact) 0300 304 5555 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

School Transitions

It’s that time of year where many of you will be thinking about how best to support your child’s transition to school. At Portland Nurseries, we believe that preparing children for school starts as soon as children join nursery. Even in our baby room, our practitioners will be supporting the development of hand eye coordination, encouraging a love of books and developing language through singing and play – all essential skills that children need not only for the start of their journey school but also for life.

Whilst there is no definition of “School readiness”, OFSTED state that for a child to be school ready they:

  • are able to separate from their carers
  • are able to listen, speak and have good communication skills
  • have a curious mind, and ask why.
  • respect boundaries
  • are able to share and cooperate appropriately
  • have good physical skills where possible.
  • are be able to recognise their name
  • are be able to engage with books

We strongly feel that for your child to be ready for school with an enquiring mind and eagerness to learn, our main responsibility is to ensure they are confident individuals with well-developed social skills.

Children’s muscles develop at different rates and for some children holding a pencil at this young age can be painful. We endeavour to ensure children are ready for writing by providing activities that develop pre-writing skills as before children can confidently control writing equipment, the muscles in their shoulders, arms and wrists need to be fully developed.

There are various activities that we ensure are available to all children regardless of their age or stage of development, such as play dough and other malleable resources, using scissors or other fine motor equipment, yoga, crawling through tunnels, the list is endless! We also encourage mark making in all areas, ensuring we enthuse children’s desire to learn at their own pace and following their own interests.

Experts child development have discovered that if a child knows eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they are four years old, they are usually among the best readers and spellers in their year two class. This is because nursery rhymes develop phonic skills. This is the awareness of the sounds within each word, for example understanding ‘sheep’ isn’t made up of the sounds from the letters s-h-e-e-p but rather the sounds sh-ee-p. This awareness of sounds is the starting point for reading.

Knowledge of rhymes helps children progress in reading once they start school. Studies have demonstrated that the better children are at detecting rhymes the quicker and more successful they will be at learning to read.

Therefore, we feel it is more important to focus on phonic awareness through learning and singing rhymes and following the ‘Letters and Sounds’ National Strategies. This age appropriate strategy allows children to develop at their own pace through planned, fun activities.

Our aim is for your child to love coming to nursery, to have fun and to learn though play, as this is definitely benefits your child the most.

Jubilee Celebrations

Hope you all enjoyed our Jubilee Celebrations as much as we did! Red, Blue, and White Day, Queens, Kings and Guards Parade, Jubilee Tree Planting and of course The Queen’s favourite Breakfast were all enjoyed by everyone in the nursery. We loved seeing you all joining with our stay and play sessions, with smiling photos and flags waving in the air, children were talking about the Queen, wrote letters and cards, even attempted to learn how to sing the National Anthem!

I trust Her Majesty will be truly grateful for receiving the Jubilee cards and letters children wrote in Her Honour and sincere appreciation and acknowledgment will be received in return from Buckingham Palace in the near future.

Until then, we would like to extend our utmost appreciation to all children and their parents who took part in our 7 days of Jubilee celebrations and of course a big ‘THANK YOU’ to all our staff for the energy and the effort they put in for this to happen!

Book/Resources Recommendations

The Snail and The Whale – Julia Donaldson

This is a story about a snail who wants to travel the world and with the help of a whale he manages to go to lots of different places and explore. They go to lots of different countries and see different weathers and different climates. This book is a great way of talking to your children about different places in the world outside our community. You can look at pictures and videos of different places, looking at: food, climate, cultures, music and schools. You could even have a go at: making some tasty foods from the different countries, learning the songs and learning some words in the different languages. You could also introduce maps from different places, children’s maps with pictures on are especially useful, as children are able to see the landmarks. If you are planning on travelling it is a great book to introduce the children to different countries and how they differ to ours. Alternatively if you are holidaying at home this year this is a great way of bringing other cultures and countries to your own home.

The Queens Handbag – Steve Antony

If you are planning on staying a little closer to home the Queens handbag is a story where a sneaky swan takes the Queens handbag and travels around the country with it. It is a great way to look at the different places around the UK.

The Queens Hat- Steve Antony

This is a story where the wind blows the Queens hat to the different places in London. If you were planning a trip to London, you could use this book before going to talk about the different sites and then you could visit them.

Poles Apart – Jeanne Willis

This story is about a family of penguins who get lost when going for a picnic and end up bumping into a polar bear at the North Pole. Then they travel the world on their way home visiting the landmarks in the different countries.

Outdoor play focus and ideas for parents

Portland Nurseries are committed to nurturing children through outdoor play with happiness and wellbeing at the centre of everything we do. You will find areas at all of our nurseries for children to construct dens and build using logs and other found objects; a digging area in sand or mud and sheltered places to listen to stories and share their own tales. Oakwood House offers open glades and trees to climb; hills to conquer; outdoor compostable toilets; muddy pools to jump in and a perfect slope for tobogganing. Activities take place in all weathers and the nursery team supports children’s learning-responding to a child’s sense of awe and wonder of the natural world.

The benefits of outdoor learning are endless. Nature provides the flexibility and freedom for child-initiated, experimental learning which increases motivation, concentration and well-being. Learning through nature encourages the development of physical skills; co-ordination; manipulation and strength while developing an understanding of risk and building self-confidence. This way of learning should be normal throughout childhood, at every age and stage. Nature is the best environment to learn in, learning through the freedom of play children are free to use their imaginations, rather than confined classrooms.

With all the benefits of nature play in mind, here are some fun activities you can try to do with your little ones Whatever the Weather.

Getting there… ( and back again!)

Slow, quiet walking

Moving slowly and quietly increases awareness and appreciation of the natural

world. Taking shorter strides than normal, place one foot down carefully in front of you without putting any weight on it. Slowly shift the centre of gravity from the back foot to the front one. Raising awareness of the things that are around us will help to immerse your children in the natural environment.

Getting to know your trees


Leaf shapes can distinguish one tree from another as can the tree’s profile.


Twigs, leaves, bark on the trunk – each species has its own range of

textures. Explore them thoroughly and see if you can tell different trees apart with their eyes closed.


Scratch the surface of some leaves and you’ll smell the difference...


Sitting and listening under different trees (when in leaf)will give another

perspective on your trees and their ‘music’.

More things to do with trees

  • Find the largest, tallest, furthest, widest...
  • Count the number of edges on leaves of different species.
  • Encourage children to read books outside.
  • Dead wood (fallen logs or branches) offer an excellent habitat for lots of different minibeasts from the ones found on living trees.
  • Move like a minibeast – it may take more than one person to get the correct number of legs though...
  • Make up a dance about a tree, a pigeon or some grass.
  • Set up a woodland theatre: string up a tarpaulin between some trees for a roof and there you have your natural stage – just as Shakespeare would have done!

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.”

Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth

Project Update

Wellbeing – We hosted a May Movie morning at the cinema for staff which was a success. The staff enjoyed a sing a long to Grease and were very excited for the ice cream in the interval! We also took part in Parent Mental Health day earlier in the year which saw all of our sites making gifts for our parents, some sites chose to make edible treats and others chose to do something creative. We had lots of lovely feedback from parents and they all very much appreciated the gesture. Our verification for the wellbeing award we are undertaking is due at the end of November and we will need some parents to talk to the verifier on the day about the impact Portland Nurseries are making on the wellbeing of the children and parents. If you would like to be involved with this, please email your nursery manager.

Eco – The Green Flag award is due to be assessed at the end of the term and all our sites have been busy with lots of lovely eco activities. We’ve had planting going on, No Mow May, bug hotels and learning about different energy sources.

Community – We are looking to create a community directory which would contain the contact details for people willing to come into our sites and talk to the children about a special interest or their job. We have recently had police officers, police dogs, a soldier, dentist and postman come into our nurseries and would love to be able to give the children at all sites the opportunity to meet and talk to people in professions that they may not otherwise come into contact with or to learn about a topic which we may not have thought about or have knowledge of in nursery. If you would like to be included in the community directory then please let your nursery manager know.

Staff News and Training

Tanzila Akhtar joined our team as Manager, she brings a wealth of nursery management experience with her. Nicola Dixon has joined the Bluebells team, Libby Doyle is our new apprentice, Mariyah Hussain and Sara Marewan join the Bluebells team.

Welcome to everyone its great to have you in our team!


Since January we have celebrated quite a few anniversaries with our wonderful staff team across the 5 Portland Nurseries' sites.

Congratulations go to Samantha Warburton for 24 years’ service working across all sites, Nichola Archer at Portland House for 18 years service, Kirsty Cooper at Portland House for 16 years service, and Julie Field at Holly Bank for 14 years service.

12 years service

Jayne Micklethwaite at Holly Bank, Natalie Brown and Mandy Turton at Bradley House, Lindsay Elliott at Portland House, Lauren Hellawell at Harlequin and Gillian McNamee at Oakwood House.

10 years service

Deborah Turner at Harlequin, Caroline Byrne and Bethany Woodhead at Portland House.

8 years service

Julie Sutherland at Oakwood House

7 years service

Nasim Akhtar at Bradley House, Rachael Taylor and Shonagh Thomson at Oakwood House and Lauren Haigh at Portland House.

6 years service

Lauren Breslin and Elise Lister at Portland House.

5 years service

Danielle Spivey and Sarah Bell at Portland House, Katie O’Brien at Bradley House, Sabrina Saba at Oakwood House.

A huge thank you for all your hard work supporting all the sites across the company and care provided to the children.

Training Update

We continually support our staff team with training and now have 10 apprentices who we are supporting to achieve their level 3 Early Years educator qualifications. We also have 3 of our Senco’s undertaking their SEND qualifications. The whole staff team are currently updating their safeguarding training and we have trained our baby room staff with Brilliant babies training. All staff are trained in paediatric first aid and this is a constant training programme.

At our training day in the Spring we welcomed Ben Kingston-Hughes who has over 30 years’ experience working with children in a variety of different settings. We had an amazing and inspiring day learning about Play and Positive Interactions through Play, Understanding Behaviour and what children are trying to communicate with their behaviour. The impact of the environment on behaviour. Enriched and stimulating human and physical environments. Creative use of resources, loose parts, imagination and creativity. Drama, storytelling and fun, inspiring joy and supporting magical play, superhero play and water play.

Charity Update

We had tremendous fun celebrating the Queens Jubilee we would like to thank all our wonderful families for their continued support at our jubilee events, enabling us to fundraise for our chosen Charity this year which is ‘The Yorkshire Children’s charity’

Together Portland Nurseries raised a grand total of £593.40 and the winner of the special commemorative Jubilee fruit tree was Lydia Helliwell, one of our Bradley House parents. Well done Lydia!

Diary Dates


Thursday 30th June

Preschool Room Parents Evening for children continuing in Pre-school


Wednesday 20th

School Leavers Ceremony

Friday 15th

Stay and Play – Around the world

Thursday 28th

Toddler Room Parents Evening


w/c 1st – 5th

Stay and Play (individual room dates TBC) – Sports Day

Thursday 25th

Baby Room Parents Evening

Copyright © 2018 Portland Nurseries, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Oakwood House, 2 Hungerford Road, Huddersfield HD3 3AL
Portland Nurseries Limited. Company No. 7538309. Registered in England & Wales.

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