Please find information that we feel you would find useful either as a new or existing parent
It is the aim of St. Thomas Day Nursery to provide a happy and stimulating environment where children are cared for and encouraged to develop the skills they will need for life. It is a place where parents can leave their children, confident in the people who will care for them in their absence.
St. Thomas Day Nursery Ltd. is an independent company and registered charity operating a 36 place nursery in Oxford city centre. The nursery opened in September 1986 and provides full and part-day care (on an all year round basis) for children aged four months up to school age.
Places are allocated from the waiting list in order of registration with priority being given to parents already using the nursery. Should you wish to change your preferred start date following your registration your application will go to the bottom of the existing waiting list for that new starting date.
St. Thomas’ Day Nursery is situated within walking distance of the city centre, is served by regular bus services from the east and west of the city and is close to the railway station. There is limited parking but dropping off or collecting by car is a manageable option. Parents who walk to the nursery can store folded pushchairs in a shed by the front door.
The nursery has two main areas organised on two floors. The younger children (4 months – 2 ½ years of age) use the first floor where there is generous play space, a purpose built cloakroom and nappy changing area and a large sleep area.
The ground floor area is used by the two to five year old children. The large play space is kept deliberately flexible to allow for a great variety of activities and for spontaneous play to take place. Activities are planned to encourage social and skill development and include table top and floor play, sand, water and paint and music and movement. Periodically the staff will change the layout of the room to add a new dimension to the nursery and provide the children with the opportunity to try out activities in a new way. There is a sleeping area, purpose built toilet and cloakroom facilities and a kitchen. Outside there are hard and soft surface areas and a purpose built adventure climbing frame. As with indoor play outdoor activities are planned each day to maximise the learning opportunities and variety of experiences for the children.
The safety of the children in our care is always a priority and for this reason a number of security measures are in place. The front door is fitted with a digital key pad to prevent entry to the building by unknown or unwelcome visitors. Anyone arriving at the nursery without a prior appointment will not be admitted. Unless specific consent is given by a parent/guardian no child is allowed to be collected by a third party. In the event of the unexpected delay of a parent alternative arrangements for collection can be made by the parent notifying the nursery of the situation and using a chosen password.
We are aware that our city centre position can have both benefits and problems. We have the opportunity to use the city galleries, parks and markets to extend the children’s understanding of the world around them but recognise that we must be particularly aware of the hazards of city life. With this in mind staff are instructed to be vigilant at all times when the children are using the garden area or are away form the nursery on trips or visits.
The Nursery has a no smoking/vaping policy both for indoors and in the garden area to keep the children safe and healthy. For this reason we also have a no mobile phone policy, again for in the building and in the garden. Please respect these for the safety of the children.
Wherever possible we will try to meet your needs but please note permanent sessions must be booked for the same days each week. We cannot alternate sessions from week to week.
A place is “bought” for the full year including holiday periods, Christmas and any other absences. Nursery costs are calculated over the full year with fees being kept to a minimum.
There may be “casual” sessions available at the nursery, especially during the holiday periods and at the beginning and end of the week. Any parent can book “one-off” casual sessions depending on availability. Ask the Nursery Manager a few days in advance if you need a casual session.
Settling Your Child In
Now your child has been allocated a place at St. Thomas’ the ‘settling in’’ period will begin. We ask parents to set aside about one month in order to spend time at the nursery with their child. During this time staff will arrange a number of visits for you and your child. This will give you the opportunity to get to know the nursery staff and other parents and an opportunity for the staff to get to know you and your child. Some children find it easier to fit into a new environment than others, so it is important for the staff to establish a timetable of visits which allows each child to settle in at his or her own pace. This time is equally important for you as a parent as you need to feel confident in those caring for your child and this can be best achieved by building a relationship with the nursery staff. We want to do everything possible to make the transition form home to nursery as comfortable as possible for you and your child. If your baby is being breast fed please let us know so that we can find a comfortable place for you both during your visits. If you would like to continue to breast feed once your baby has started at the nursery please speak to us about it so that we can help to plan yours and your baby’s day.
Once your child is attending regularly we would ask that you plan your day so that arrival and departure times are not too rushed. Allow enough time at the beginning of the session to be able to settle your child in the room comfortably. Parents are welcome to visit the nursery at any time during the day if they wish but some children do find this unsettling as the arrival of a parent is normally the cue to go home.
Parents are welcome and encouraged to telephone the nursery at any time to reassure themselves about their child’s wellbeing. By choice we do not have an automated telephone answering system so there will always be an opportunity to speak directly to someone caring for your child.
Keeping in Touch
When a your child joins the nursery you will be asked to complete an emergency contact form giving personal contact details, parent’s work contact numbers along with an additional emergency local contact number. This might be a grandparent or close friend who can be called upon in case neither parent can be contacted. It is very important that these numbers are kept up to date and periodically you will be asked to update the emergency contact form.
The Nursery Manager produces a regular newsletter telling parents about current activities and planned events, staff changes and new families joining the nursery. Individual letters will be given to parents with information about trips, outings, or special events. Other announcements are posted prominently on notice boards or doors in the nursery.
Daily activities are recorded in each room so that you see what your child has done that day. Activities in each room reflect the early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and activities are planned to ensure every child has an opportunity to play and learn at their own pace. Current themes and topic ideas are displayed and parent participation is welcomed for story reading, cooking, art and creativity or sharing festivals and celebrations.
Other information about your child’s day including sleep pattern, meals and toileting are recorded daily and is available at the end of your child’s session.
Staff are available to talk to parents at the beginning and end of every session but we would ask that you arrive in good time if you want to speak to your child’s carer. You are welcome to arrange a more formal meeting with either the Manager or staff member at any time should you have any concerns or queries. Once a year you will be invited to meet with a member of staff to discuss your child’s progress and look at the development records.
A Management Committee Meeting open to all parents is held monthly. This forum allows parents to participate in decision making, planning for the future and addressing any policy issues that may arise. The Annual General Meeting is normally held in April when a new committee is elected and parents and staff can meet informally.
Recording and Reporting
The aims of recording and reporting children’s progress is to aid staff to continually plan appropriately to meet the needs of individual children. They also use these records to share information and insights with parents and the children themselves.
A record for each child might comprise of observations on the development of skills and competencies supported by dated examples of work or photographs of activities that are significant. A printed developmental record sheet which identifies specific areas of achievement is kept for each child and these are shared with parents at regular intervals. The records should have a balanced view from the staff, parents and children themselves. Therefore parents are asked to complete a monthly learning outcome each month to show what their child is achieving or working towards at home, and give to a member of staff so that is can be put in their child’s folder. This information will prove a useful guide for other staff or future teachers who do not yet know the child.
Communication with Parents
This is achieved in a variety of ways including a regular newsletter, information boards in the nursery and direct contact between staff and parents, both formal and informal. Information shared will include current topics and activities, news about outings and visits by adults who join the nursery to share their experiences and knowledge of topics of interest. Parents are encouraged to volunteer their own particular skills and are welcome at the nursery at any time.
Nursery Closure due to severe weather conditions or other emergency
The staff and committee at St. Thomas Day Nursery are committed to the continuous provision of care for the families and children who use the nursery. However, it goes without saying, that there are rare circumstances when events beyond our control may force a change to the normal running of the nursery.
The extensive and severe snow fall and freezing conditions in December 2016 was one such event, followed by more snow in February forcing the closure of the nursery for two days. To put your mind at rest I would point out that this has been the only time in 8 years that the nursery has been forced to close which means we are not talking about any degree of regularity.
In the event of such severe weather, or other unplanned circumstance resulting in the closure of the nursery, information will be made available through the local radio stations (and the nursery web site, thomasnursery.co.uk) We will also endeavour to contact each parent either by email or telephone to inform them as soon as possible.
As you will be aware St. Thomas Day Nursery is a not for profit organisation and a registered charity and as such is unable to offer refunds for lost days.
Should you require any further information regarding nursery closures please speak to the nursery manager.