In February 2015 the ACE Centre Nursery School was designated a Teaching School and in March 2016, a National Support School, by the Department for Education. This national recognition of our outstanding work in Early Years education has enabled us to continue the work we started as an Early Years Teaching Centre in 2011.
We are a lead school in an alliance of Teaching Schools in Oxfordshire called the Oxfordshire Teaching School Alliance (OTSA), where we take a leadership role in developing the quality of Early Years Foundation Stage. You can find out more about Teaching schools and our role within OTSA by visiting the OTSA website here.
Our focus is to develop sector led improvement through innovation, collaboration and partnership, in the six areas that are required of National Teaching Schools:
We support settings and schools across the county by providing specialist Early Years continuing professional development, networks, training, school to school support and teacher training, as well as involvement in research and dissemination of good practice.
Supporting professional development locally in schools and settings is particularly relevant in our large rural reach area where access to training may be more difficult. A network of support and inspiration has been welcomed by practitioners as evident in the following comment:
“As a small community preschool it can feel at times that we are slightly isolated from the larger picture, especially as we have a low staff turnover. Coming to these sessions has not only enabled us to receive training and take part in discussions around a wide range of topics and issues, but has enabled us to connect with other groups and settings. The enthusiasm and knowledge of the ACE Centre staff is fantastic and is inspiring to others.”
As part of the CPD aspect of our Teaching School role, our programme of EYFS Inspiration Days is now well established. Bringing people such as Anna Ephgrave, Ruth Moore, Julie Cigman, Kathryn Solly and Julie Fisher to speak in accessible locations in Oxfordshire at affordable prices has proved a great way to inspire and motivate practitioners to innovate in order to deliver the very best early years provision for the children in our schools and settings. We have had excellent feedback from teachers and early years practitioners, from across Oxfordshire and beyond, who have hugely enjoyed the opportunity to listen to some of the most respected, influential thinkers and writers currently in Early Years. Linking training to longer term CPD opportunities (which can include visits to our outstanding Nursery School and Childcare settings, and reflection within a network of practitioners) offers settings a greater opportunity to embed concepts and pedagogy in their everyday practice, so positively impacting on outcomes for children.
“This was the best course I have been on in my whole teaching career. The speakers were inspirational and my practice has completely changed for the better”