• To promote the principles of Early Years Education as recommended by Learning Through Play in the Early Years Resource Book.

  • To promote and enhance language development through talking and listening, communication and socialisational skills

  • To develop self-esteem, resilience, self-confidence, independence and a positive attitude to learning.

  • To stimulate curiosity and foster skills of observation, investigation, creativity and problem solving in all areas of the curriculum to include self-expression and imaginative thinking.

  • To develop physical co-ordination and fine and gross motor skills.

  • To encourage the development of imagination, giving children the opportunity to fully explore and develop his/her ideas.

  • To develop concentration and perseverance.

  • To promote play as a pleasurable, worthwhile experience.



We as Nursery/Foundation Stage teachers and assistants at St Brigid’s Primary and Nursery School believe that play based learning enables children to use their initiative, develop their confidence and self-esteem, explore, be imaginative, creative, socialise, experience success and develop positive attitudes to learning.

Through carefully planned play based learning, knowledge, skills and attitudes are introduced, developed and reinforced.  Motivation, perseverance, concentration, co-operation, reflection autonomy and enjoyment will be encouraged as key elements of being a successful learner.

Play is a central part of young people’s learning.  Through play children explore ideas/feelings and relationships.  Play can push out the limits of what is possible and help children to be creative/flexible and imaginative.  Rich play promotes control, mastery/confidence and wellbeing (Learning for Life).

The curriculum in Nursery is delivered through play based experiences.  “Children should experience the curriculum in a holistic way through play and other relevant experiences”, Curriculum Guidance for Pre-School Education NI.



Role of Teacher

An interactive roll is required of the teachers.  Planning for indoor and outdoor play appropriately – weekly –thematic. It is important for staff to extend activities that are initiated by children but also considering that there is a balance between child-initiated and adult initiated activities to ensure that children acquire appropriate content, knowledge and are cognitively challenged and supported.

The teacher will initiate, interact and intervene where appropriate to ensure purposeful, productive play in all areas.  Their role is to talk to, challenge, question, motivate and encourage children in their play by extending and building on their language development.  The teacher will monitor play through observation and recording. This will enable the teacher to plan for progression as well as supporting individual needs.  The teacher will ensure that other adults engaged in the classroom will understand the learning objectives and their role in supporting the teacher.  The teacher needs to monitor adult interaction to ensure good practice.


Role of the Learning Assistant

In  St Brigid’s Nursery, the Assistant and  the Learning Support Assistant works in partnership to ensure they optimise learning in the classroom.  We believe our shared perspective helps us to build up a rich, coherent picture of each child over time.  They assist with the practical organisation of equipment and materials.  They have an understanding of intended learning outcome and targeted language in each activity.  Teachers will discuss planners with their learning support staff to ensure clear learning intentions.  The assistant will help with the monitoring and assessment of play.  In order to train and upskill student learning support assistant’s induction and on-going monitoring will be provided to ensure their involvement in appropriate activities.    Assistants are involved in the planning process.  Written observation used to inform planning.


Observation and Evaluation

Play will be planned in accordance with the nursery’s agreed planning process.  Appropriate records will be kept and play planners will be evaluated weekly by the teacher.  Monitoring and evaluating will be used to inform future planning for play.


The teacher must observe the children at play to:

  • Assess the skills they are developing through play

  • Monitor progress in relation to areas of the curriculum

  • Review efficient use of play space and the suitability of play materials

  • Significant observations of children’s interactions will be considered in the short term planning process.

  • Observations should be recorded when:  Use poster – (Pre-School Curriculum Guidance).



Links with Parents

In St Brigid’s Nursery, we acknowledge the role parents have in the education of their children.  It is very important to us to form good relationships with them.  We meet with parents in the first term to inform them about the areas of the curriculum that the children are going to follow and to highlight some of the topics we will be covering throughout the year.  This gives parents the opportunity to ask questions and to resolve any concerns they may have.  It also allows us to inform parents of their role and how they can support learning at home.  Planners on display on parents noticeboard.  6 weekly newsletters sent home.  Topics and book etc shared.


Planning and Progression

In the Nursery we look at long term planning and medium term planning to discuss the topics being covered and link them to play based learning.

These plans aim to:

  • Ensure that children experience a broad and balanced curriculum with all areas of learning being given appropriate emphasis;

  • Outline the knowledge, skills and concepts, and the progression expected, within each area of learning;

  • Include seasonal, festive and other planned events that occur during the year allowing time for spontaneous learning;

  • Inform termly planning.


Health and Safety

In St Brigid’s Nursery, we aim to ensure utmost safety during playtime.

Procedures we follow include:

  • Considering the physical environment both indoor and outdoor;

  • Children showing consideration to others and to equipment;

  • Negotiating rules and boundaries;

  • Consistency in applying rules;

  • Children being aware of Health and Safety rules  eg brushing up sand and mopping water from the floor;

  • Maintain high levels of hygiene e.g. play resources.


Equal Opportunities

We will endeavour to provide play experiences which will contribute to the learning and development of all children irrespective of age,  gender, culture, race or ability.



Each classroom will be equipped with a range of resources which will be able to be used to link in with themes and topics where appropriate.  Staff in the Foundation Stage will be responsible for making sure that toys and equipment are clean, safe for use and maintained to the highest standard possible. 

The Nursery’s outdoor equipment will be stored in the outdoor storeroom

Equipment and resources will be checked on a regular basis, again to make sure it is up to standard.  At the end of each school year all equipment will be checked and each year group may be given the opportunity to order some new equipment suitable for their year group.

“The best kept classroom and the richest cupboard are rooked only by the sky” (Margaret McMillan 1925).


The Areas of Outdoor Play in St Brigid’s

During good weather indoor toys will be moved outside.

  • An open space for running and games play

  • A natural area for horticulture/science

  • A challenging area for wheeled vehicles

  • Imagination play outside

  • Physical gross

  • Sand and water


Outdoor play is an equal player to indoors and receives planning, management, evaluation, resourcing staffing and adult interaction on par with indoors.  The outdoor classroom offers children the opportunity to utilise effective modes of learning – play movement and sensory experience,