Outstanding Early Years Practice

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Awarded to a setting that has placed physical literacy at the heart of their curriculum, ensuring that learners’ physical, social and emotional health is central. 

Winner - Central Bedfordshire Children’s Centres, Bedfordshire

Photo of winners at awards evening

Staff from the Children's Centre Team in Central Bedfordshire attended Healthy Movers training back in early 2020 and left the session enthused and excited to deliver these new sessions to local families. Little did they know of what was about to hit the country and the incredible journey they were about to undertake.  

Within a few weeks of attending the training, the country was in lockdown because of the pandemic, with schools and early years settings closed to all but vulnerable children and children of key workers. Children's Centres remained open, although of course, they were unable to deliver face to face group sessions because of the restrictions in place.

The team were undeterred and decided to create a new way of delivering Healthy Movers, using online platforms such as Facebook and Microsoft Teams. The team had to think creatively to engage families in this new way of delivery. Staff did live sessions online for families to engage with in real time and staff also recorded themselves leading sessions, posting the videos on Facebook for families to access at a time that suited them. These innovations paid off as throughout the various lockdowns the team continued to attract and engage with families.

Since then, the staff have continued to focus on improving physical literacy and embedding Healthy Movers in their practice. Centres are incorporating Healthy Movers in other sessions as well, for example using the 'Pick up packets' card at tidy up time and linking cards to stories. Alongside this, Flitwick Children's Centre has started delivering Healthy Mover sessions at their local leisure centre too.  

At a time when obesity levels were anticipated to rise throughout the country because of lockdown, data from April 2023 has actually shown a reduction in obesity levels in Reception aged children in the area. The council acknowledges the commitment demonstrated by colleagues in Children's Centres which has likely contributed to this reduction.

Highly Commended - Portreath Primary School, Cornwall 

Portreath Primary School decided to use the Healthy Movers programme within the reception class after it was decided an alternative scheme to deliver PE wasn’t working. The Healthy Movers training was found to be easy to pick up as it fitted neatly into the Early Years Foundation Stage framework.

Alongside embedding the programme in reception, the school’s Healthy Mover Champion has also supported one to one delivery for SEND children across the school and on active breaks. In the pilot term, Healthy Movers was used to begin PE sessions before moving into other PE activity but from September the plan is to use Healthy Movers solely, as it is so much fun for the children.

The programme is delivered mainly by support staff within the school although all teachers and staff are aware of the benefits of the programme and are fully supportive. Year six children are involved in the delivery of the programme and they often bring a creative approach and take the play off in different directions to ‘traditional’ PE lessons which appeals to younger children who might not previously have enjoyed PE.

Staff have also embedded Healthy Movers cards and principle into year one classes to support children with active breaks, and they also offer a Healthy Movers afterschool session once a week which children from various year groups participate in, with students from older year groups guiding and supporting the younger attendees.

To widen the reach beyond the school gates, eighteen reception class parents attended a Healthy Movers session in school and, since then, have been sending in pictures to show how the activities are being used at home.

The school leadership team are fully supportive of Healthy Movers, and there are plans to support the development of the programme beyond school and into a local preschool within the wider community as it is believed this will support overall school readiness for those starting reception class. 

Full list of shortlisted entries:

  • Biscovey Nursery & Infants, Cornwall
  • Central Bedfordshire Council, Bedfordshire
  • Luxulyan Preschool, Cornwall
  • Portreath Primary School, Cornwall
  • Skylar Nursery, Cornwall