New Early Years Provision at Portfield School

13 July 2017

We are delighted to announce we will be opening a Centre for Reception and Key Stage 1 aged children within the grounds of Portfield School near Bournemouth, Dorset from September 2017, due to high demand for places. 

Following a successful academic year 2016-2017, where Portfield School has been providing support for six Early Years pupils in a dedicated classroom within the main school, the charity is creating a purpose built Centre for Early Years students. The centre will be within its own designated teaching block on campus where the younger members of the school community can have their own space.

Portfield School will be utilising the former Wessex Lodge building, which resides on the existing school site, but is away from the main campus with its own designated drop-off and pick-up point. The building is currently undergoing a complete refit, to ensure it offers a much more flexible, Early Years appropriate teaching and learning space. This will include separate rooms for individual teaching/intervention work, a separate play room including, role play zones, in-house sensory/soft play areas, a reading den, dressing up areas, and state-of-the-art teaching resources such as interactive white boards.

Alison Casey, Joint Head of Portfield School comments; “Children learn and develop well in enabling environments in which their experiences respond to their individual needs. In the same way we tailor the curriculum for the rest of the learning styles across the school, the Early Years curriculum is based almost entirely around play and child-led play in particular, which requires a lot of space and resources.”

The whole building is being tailored to meet the needs of the younger members of the school community. In addition, outdoor space will be maximised to provide a contained play area with a covered learning space providing an all weather outdoor learning environment. There is the ability to create nature areas and the location also provides opportunity to access the extended on-site park area within the schools 5 acre site.

In addition, as well as benefitting from their own dedicated learning environment, these 4-5 year old pupils will be able to access Portfield School’s other resources, including a swimming pool , the practice and clinical support team, the sensory room and vehicles for offsite outings where appropriate.

Alison Casey continues; “We are striving to provide a welcoming, age-appropriate pathway from nursery to special school. There is an increasing recognition of the importance of early educational interventions to respond to diagnosis of ASC. Research shows that early intervention makes a big difference to a child’s development leading to improved outcomes for children with autism, including higher intelligence, and increased social and daily living skills. We hope to provide for the need arising in placing 4-5 year olds in a specialist environment whilst at the same time improving the outcomes for every unique child on the autism spectrum.”

Ultimately the centre will cater for 16 young learners in two teaching groups, with each class catering for up to 8 pupils at any one time. The initial opening will be for 8 pupils on the ground floor, with a phased approach to developing the upper level of the building in the near future.

Anyone seeking further information is invited to contact Portfield School on 01202 573808.

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