Capital nursery celebrates being top of the class

Early Years Practitioner Lesley Russell with youngster Harry Billinghurst. Picture: Scott Taylor
Early Years Practitioner Lesley Russell with youngster Harry Billinghurst. Picture: Scott Taylor
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CHILDREN and teachers at a nursery are celebrating after it was revealed to be among Scotland’s best by inspectors.

Tynecastle Nursery School scored six “excellent” and three “very good” ratings following a formal assessment by experts at Education Scotland, who have described it as “exceptional”.

Top grades were handed out for care and support, environment, staffing, leadership, meeting learning needs and children’s experiences.

Founded in 1929, Tynecastle is one of only a few to receive such high scores, which are generally awarded for “sector-leading” quality.

The nursery’s use of natural materials including wood, pebbles and sand for decorative and learning purposes was singled out for particular praise, along with its incorporation of arithmetic and core numeracy skills into everyday activities such as teeth brushing.

In their report, inspectors said: “Tynecastle Nursery School is an exceptional environment for children to play, grow and learn.

“It is a relaxed, calm and purposeful oasis within the city. Children show high levels of motivation and independence as they enthusiastically use the indoor and outdoor space to help them learn.” The report will be welcomed after 2014 exams data published earlier this year revealed only 11 per cent of pupils at Tynecastle High scored at least three Higher passes by the end of S5 – well adrift of a 33 per cent city-wide average.

Headteacher Stella Brown said: “When it was built in 1929, many of the children were in tenements and people realised they weren’t getting enough exercise, safe places to play or [opportunities] for healthy eating, and so they built this nursery to provide those things.

“And the agenda is not that different today. It’s going back to first principles and ensuring children have the skills needed to succeed.”

She said the nursery’s success had attracted families from across the city, with youngsters going on to enrol at primary schools such as Bruntsfield, Craiglockhart, Balgreen and Stenhouse.

“Another positive thing is that we have children from all over the world here, which provides a very rich learning environment,” said Ms Brown.

Councillor Cathy Fullerton, deputy education leader, said: “This excellent inspection report for Tynecastle Nursery School reinforces the approach we have taken in the Capital to provide children with the right tools to succeed in as they grow up.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com