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February 19 2015.

Harbour Primary and Nursery School in Newhaven is celebrating improvements in its early years results and is heading up a hub to help raise standards across the town.

The school is celebrating success after the latest figures showed 63 per cent of pupils achieved a good level of development at the end of their reception year– the national average is 60 per cent. The results are an improvement on the results the school achieved in 2013 and headteacher Christine Terrey has put this down to the renewed focus on early years education.

“We have taken a number of steps to help our children in the Early Years Foundation Stage reach their individual potentials,” she said. “A smooth transition from early years into a school setting is so important for those children starting their school career, and the work we have carried out helps promote this.”

Following the 2013 results, the school, which relocated its younger children to Church Hill this autumn, kick-started a range of initiatives to improve the development of foundation stage pupils. This included the new ‘Foundation Village’ – a purpose-built section of the school where children from nursery age to Reception year learn and socialise together. It includes classrooms for each year group, a communal kitchen where the children practice cookery with the teachers, and a shared eating space, school hall and play area. The school is also part of East Sussex County Council’s Village Project which helps children with school readiness and ensures the quality of provision is the same across the board.

“Our nursery, which accepts children from the age of two, and reception year class work closely together and benefit from the joined-up approach to helping our pupils aged up to five to develop,” said Mrs Terrey. “Becoming part of this initiative has very much focused our approach to achieving the best possible outcomes for our children. Now all of the staff from the nursery up to Reception year plan their lessons together, which ensures the children receive a seamless transition through the Early Years Foundation Stage.”

Following its own success, the school will be spearheading the new Early Excellence Hub, versions of which are being rolled across East Sussex. Led by East Sussex County Council, the hubs are for all early years settings; nurseries, children’s centres, early years childminders and other key partners who work with children under five.

“The common aim of the Hub is to give children access to high quality education and high quality outcomes and share best practice across the town.” Mrs Terrey explained.

This work will help meet the county-wide target that all children are able to attend an early education provision that is rated at least ‘good’ by Ofsted, achieve the best possible outcomes from their early education, and experience consistent foundation stage learning.

At the beginning of December, the hub’s first meeting took place and an action plan agreed.

“I’m thrilled to be able to host the Early Years Excellence Hub here at Harbour, working collaboratively with settings in our town,” said Mrs Terrey. “I’m very proud of the facilities we can offer all of our children and the quality of the learning at our school.”

Councillor Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for learning and school effectiveness said: “We recognise the importance of early years education and are delighted that the hard work and dedication of our officers and staff at our school has paid off. These latest results show that we are the right path to ensuring that children in East Sussex get the best start in their school career.”

Pictured above: Harbour Primary School headteacher Christine Terrey (centre) with early years staff and pupils