Nursery School

Welcome to our nursery school page

The ACE Centre Nursery School

Offers children a funded education place from the term after their 3rd birthday until their transfer to primary school.

“This is an outstanding school. Exciting, challenging and imaginative activities and stimulating resources thoroughly engage children. Adult expertise in talking to children about their learning and joining in their play is very strong. This supports children’s thinking skills and language development especially well.”

(Ofsted, September 2014)

The ACE Centre Nursery School is a Local Authority maintained nursery school, one of only six such schools in Oxfordshire. We work in close partnership with ACE Childcare and ACE Preschool, which share our site and are operated by the ACE Centre Charity. This partnership enables us to provide consistently outstanding care and education for children from 3 months up to the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage at 5 years.

The ACE Centre Nursery School receives a regular full school Ofsted inspection. Our latest inspection in 2014 graded the school as outstanding overall and in each area of the inspection. We are proud to have been judged consistently outstanding in each of our four most recent inspections, since 2006.

The Nursery School provides 40 places per session and is open from Monday to Friday during term time. Term Dates and Holidays.

All children are entitled to the universal 15 hours of funded early education from the term following their third birthday. Children attend for five morning sessions (8.50am to 11.50am) or five afternoon sessions (12.30pm to 3.30pm) per week, during term times. There is no charge for Nursery School sessions, although we do request a termly (3 per year), voluntary donation of £10 to help purchase additional resources to enhance children’s experiences in Nursery School.

From September 2017, some families are entitled to 30 hours funded education. These children are offered their extended funded hours within the Nursery School day (between 8.50am and 3.30pm) during term times. There is no charge for these Nursery School sessions, although we do request a termly (3 per year), voluntary donation of £10 as above.

To support the needs of parents who may require childcare in addition to their funded entitlement, there are options for families who need breakfast sessions (from 8am), lunch sessions, and/or after school sessions (until 6pm), who can pay for these additional hours, whilst taking advantage of their free hours. We also offer families the option to access year-round childcare during the school holidays as a paid-for addition to their funded hours. There are limited places available for these additional sessions, and places are allocated in accordance with our admissions policy. All additional sessions are provided in an integrated way by ACE Childcare, operated by the ACE Centre Charity.

The ACE Centre Nursery School is a Teaching School and National Support School. We work in partnership with local early years settings and the Chipping Norton Partnership of Schools. The Nursery School is used as a training placement for teachers, nursery nurses and work experience students from the UK and Germany. We provide and host a wide range of training events. Please see the Teaching School page of our website for further information.

We are supported by an active group of parents and members of our local community: The Friends of the ACE Centre. We are welcoming and inclusive and value all families and the contributions they make. Parents and community members are encouraged to come in to school to support our work through various schemes.

“My child has been given the support, space and encouragement to maximise his creativity and imagination. He is happy and confident. He has loved Nursery School and the opportunities and adventures provided there – it has had a huge impact.”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2017

“Thank you for a wonderful few years at Nursery School. I have learned so much as a parent from teachers and am inspired by the creative learning opportunities. Every day there are exciting things to do, see, explore. So much love and energy go into making our nursery excellent.”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2017

“The quality of teaching at the Nursery School is exceptional and my child has progressed very well in her 18 months there. The resources are excellent and the passion the staff have is fantastic. Highly recommend!”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2016

“The teachers take time to care and understand every child individually, they know how they act, what makes them happy, sad and also show them how to act, preparing them for other social situations. Not only do they learn, talking, pronunciation, maths (numerals), writing, they develop the child as a whole. I have seen my child grow physically and mentally into a young boy who is ready to take on the world!”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2016

“My child has grown in confidence and independence. He has developed in all areas because his ideas are listened to and he has the resources and environment to implement them. He has a love for learning and his social skills have improved.”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2016

“My child has changed massively since her time at nursery developing her independence and confidence. The garden especially has given her opportunities that she doesn’t have at home..”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2016

“Our child’s confidence has grown considerably – improving his social interaction with his peers and willingness to explore and try out new things. He has also developed an appetite for learning which we hope has provided him with great foundations for the future.”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2016

“No matter what, staff/teachers have been there for me and my children, understanding and helping so I can get/have got the best care and development for them. Showing me, my child and his individuality and individual needs come first and this helps the development.”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2016

“When we first started coming I was scared, overwhelmed, so many children it looked like chaos, but now I see how truly amazing this nursery and the staff are! Every day I see the children learning and developing by playing and discovering the world, and they are all so happy doing it. These people are amazing! They get it right and I would 100% trust them with any of my children. FANTASTIC SETTING AND FANTASTIC STAFF!”

Parent, Parent Questionnaire 2016


Do come in and see us at any time to discuss how we can meet your child’s and family’s needs for a rich and inspirational early years education. We warmly welcome visits and encourage you to come and see the Nursery School in action.

You can register your interest in a Nursery School place by completing a registration form and your child’s name will be placed on the waiting list. Spaces permitting, children start Nursery School the term after their 3rd birthday, for the number of hours to which they are entitled (15 hours per week, during term time, for all children or 30 hours per week, during term time, for qualifying families from September 2017). If you require additional paid-for sessions, you will need to indicate this on the registration form. If you need to discuss which options are best suited to your family’s needs, please do not hesitate to call us.

Please complete the Nursery School Application Form and return to the school office at the above address, or collect a copy from our Reception office. A copy of your child’s birth certificate and proof of address must also be seen.

The ACE Centre Nursery School strives to be an inclusive school which engenders a sense of community and belonging through its inclusive ethos; broad and balanced curriculum for all children; systems for early identification of barriers to learning and participation; and, high expectations. We provide for children with a wide range of special educational needs and disabilities, please view our Special Educational Needs Policy and our SEND Information Report 2017-2018. Our Special Educational needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCo) is Lexy Tuckwell. The Headteacher is Helen Ruff.

We consider applications each term (3 times per year) and places are allocated in accordance with Oxfordshire County Council’s Admissions Policy to Local Authority Nursery Schools

We will contact you when a place is available for your child, approximately half a term before your child is due to start. This offer letter confirms your child’s place which you will need to accept within the stated period and also includes an invitation to a New Parents’ evening.

At the New Parent’s evening you will meet key staff, receive further information about the Nursery School routines and curriculum, and have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. You will be invited to attend a Nursery School session with your child and a home visit from your child’s key person will be arranged, to take place shortly before your child starts at Nursery School. Staff will wish to work in close liaison with you, aiming to make the introduction to Nursery School a positive one for you and your child.


    • We aim to offer each child a rich, enjoyable and inspirational Early Years education which enhances their individual life experiences, development and learning at this unique and sensitive period of life.

    • Every child is unique and we value and respect each child’s individuality. We aim to ensure that every child experiences success in their learning and relationships so that they develop a resilient self-esteem and a love of learning. We strive to provide the right level of challenge, and “just enough” support in order to develop each child’s independence, confidence, talents and abilities as well as to address any development needs or difficulties.

    • Young children learn from everything that happens to them. They need rich experiences which are cross-curricular, promote high levels of involvement and offer opportunities for high quality talk and interactions.

    • Our learning environment is designed to promote the characteristics of effective learning, to support children’s exploration and play, to provoke questions, enquiry and sustained shared thinking. Resources are accessible, well organized within workshop areas, flexible and open-ended. The environment is continuously evolving to meet children’s needs and interests.

    • Outdoor learning and Forest School are inspirational to many young children and regular and extended access to our outdoor area is an integral part of our sessions. Different experiences can be enjoyed outdoors, but the same principles apply to the outdoor learning environment as to the indoors.

    • Safeguarding is at the heart of all we do. It is the responsibility of each person within our community to report and act upon concerns within a well-understood and effective safeguarding system.

    • We recognize that the development of self-regulation and social skills is essential for children to experience success in their education and throughout life, so we aim to offer a consistent emotion coaching framework to support all children to develop this key attribute. The relationships that children develop with each other and the adults in the Nursery School directly affect their access to all areas of the curriculum.

    • A child’s parents or carers are their earliest and lifelong educators and advocates. We value working together to share our understanding of each child’s character, needs and interests to best support learning and development. We aim to share with each parent our understanding of their child’s development so that we empower parents to develop their knowledge and confidence in their role as lifelong educator and advocate for their child’s rights in education. This is achieved by an on-going dialogue about home and school observations of the child; offering opportunities for active involvement in sessions, consultations and workshops about early learning.

    • The process of learning, and not only the end result, is valued in itself. We promote the characteristics of effective learning in all that we do so that we develop engaged, resilient and confident learners who are ready not only for the next stage of their education but for the challenges of life in a modern multicultural world.

    • We recognize that many children may have factors in their lives, both short-term and long-term, which can make it more difficult to realise their full potential. We aim to work sensitively with a child’s family to implement effective interventions to overcome any barriers to learning and to effectively safeguard all children. We strive to offer provision which is rapidly responsive to identified needs as we understand that early intervention is key to helping children to achieve the best outcomes.

  • As a Teaching School, we aim to create a vibrant and active learning community of practitioners from local schools and settings. We aim to positively influence the quality of early education for children across our county, using latest research into early years pedagogy, to inspire and inform our own and others’ practice.

Site search

Other areas of interest

Fundamental British Values at the ACE Centre Nursery School

Our young learners are starting to develop their understanding of these values through a wide range of teaching and learning opportunities across the EYFS curriculum. These are some examples of how we promote British Values every day at the ACE Centre Nursery School through our ethos, our policies and our practice.

Individual Liberty
At The ACE Centre Nursery School a rich and inspiring learning environment and clear routines help and support children to develop their independence.

Children feel safe and valued through a close and steady relationship with their key person and an increasing and successful social circle.

Practitioners give specific praise which uses the language of The Characteristics of Effective Learning and allows children to see how they are empowered and effective life-long learners.

Children are supported to Increase their own self-confidence in their ideas and endeavours. Highly skilled early years practitioners and teachers help build self-esteem through shared and sustained thinking with each child. We listen, interact and provide the right amount of support for children to work out their ideas and actualise their plans.

We ensure that every child’s voice and interests are celebrated by choosing a small group of children to be the focus for weekly observation. Family voice and input is gathered each time a child is a focus learner.

Rule of Law
Children not only learn to follow the rules but understand how the rules and routines at Nursery School form the basis of a successful community where everyone has the right to feel safe all of the time.

Children learn to self-regulate their emotions and any conflicts which may arise through a unified approach of Emotion Coaching, used throughout the Nursery School. We use a three step process of
1) acknowledging and validating feelings;
2) being clear what actions are acceptable and which are not;
3) allowing time and support for the children involved to fix the problem.

Children take responsibility for looking after their own learning environment. They are supported to apply the principle “Choose it, use it, put in back” when they leave an area. They all participate in tidy up time and enjoy the apprenticeship tasks of washing up, wiping down, sweeping up and ordering resources back onto shadowed or clearly labelled shelves.

Children learn to listen to each other’s views in small and large group times and independent play. We use signing and visual prompts for basic strategies such as take turns, help me, let’s play, be gentle, stop, sit down, look and listen.

Mutual Respect and Tolerance
Children learn to appreciate and celebrate their differences. The staff model a spirit of all-embracing and welcoming practice to all our children and families. We celebrate learning and take interest in all that is new and different to ourselves.

We are an inclusive setting which takes equal account of all needs, cultures, languages and faiths.

Equipment, toys and stories reflect a variety of ethnicities and cultures. We also use the rich resources our multi-cultural families have to offer through Family Focus weeks.

Children have hands on learning experiences of other cultures and religions both on a daily basis and through a wide variety of religious festivals which we celebrate throughout the year.

ACE Centre Nursery School children enjoy freedom and choice. Their routine and environment maximise opportunities for child-led experiences within an inspiring world of skilfully chosen, enticingly set-out and carefully maintained resources. These promote independence, well-being and highly involved play.

Adult-initiated group times are kept short and meaningful and are differentiated in both outcome and support. We also use group discussions and investigations to record the children’s ideas and voice even more visibly.

Children know that it is possible to find fair solutions in most situations through staff embedding Emotion Coaching and Protective Behaviours into every situation. They develop high levels of emotional intelligence and qualities such as patience, kindness, a desire to actively help and a good understanding of each other.

Children at the ACE Centre Nursery School all have an equal stake in creating a harmonious community. We create a culture of apprenticeship and real experiences which teach children how to value their participation within the whole community.

The children’s ideas are taken into account and inform the experiences and development of Nursery School through a continuous cycle of observation, teaching and evaluation represented in our daily spontaneous planning.


With our termly intake of new starters, the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) group can contain children from different year groups and the group can change throughout the academic year.

The funding is received in three blocks. It is calculated per pupil each term on a pro rata basis from the census point that a child joins the school.

Early Years Pupil Premium funds are spent with the following aims in mind:

    • To enhance nurture experiences and accelerate settling in by promoting high wellbeing and involvement levels.

    • To provide experiences and interactions that effectively address each child’s individual social, emotional and learning needs by addressing any areas of need and/or by offering extension opportunities to enhance a child’s interests, strengths and talents.

    • To ensure regular and increased attendance, where necessary.

    • To support and boost early language development.

    • To close any gaps in attainment and ensure maximum progress is made by each individual child in receipt of EYPP.

    • To encourage and support family involvement in initiatives such as family focus weeks, parent workshops, parent consultations with the aim of supporting both the child and their family to overcome any barriers they may face in gaining the maximum value from their involvement in high quality early years education.

    • To support children’s early learning by enriching the home learning environment and working with parents and carers to enhance their understanding of their child’s development and learning and of how they can support effectively.

    • To facilitate family attendance at meetings and conferences with other professionals, to ensure early intervention is accessed to support any identified needs for the child and family.

    • To increase children’s access to outdoor learning and Forest School.

  • To ensure that children and families make a successful transition to primary education, with children ready for school and parents confident and knowledgeable to act as advocates for their child throughout all stages of their education.

Evaluation of impact and value for money achieved by a range of interventions has been sought through reference to research via the Educational Endowment Fund website.

In designing our Pupil Premium strategy, we have also considered the research undertaken by NFER and the DfE into the most effective ways to support the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.
The progress and attainment of all children in the Nursery school, including those eligible for EYPP, is closely monitored so that we can quickly identify and respond to individual needs. There is a process to regularly update observations of individual children’s interests, strengths, needs and any barriers to learning.

Early Years Pupil Premium 2015-2016

Funding received during the academic year 2015-2016 was as follows:

  • Autumn 2015 £954
  • Spring 2016 £1311.75
  • Summer 2016 £1812.60

10 of the 45 children who left Nursery School during the academic year 2015-16, were in receipt of the EYPP (22.2% of the cohort). Analysis of progress and attainment data for this group shows outstanding levels of progress and improved attainment across the curriculum.

A detailed evaluation of the impact of EYPP funding is completed for each individual child.

In the academic year 2015-2016 Early Years Pupil Premium was spent as follows:

    • Targeted Teaching Assistant hours:
      1. to deliver speech, language and communication development programme (Early Talk Boost)
      2. to provide 1-1 language support in sessions and to deliver individual speech and language programme
      3. to enhance teaching and learning at Forest School, for individual children during sessions, in group times and in sessions
      4. to offer transition support for pupil with SEND at the end of sessions and aid his development of self-regulation skills

  • Additional sessions in Nursery School to support attendance, to enable parent to attend parenting course in our Children’s Centre>/li>

  • Additional Forest School sessions for child and father

  • Living Eggs experience: a stimulus for involvement, talk and nurture at the start of the Nursery School year

  • Purchase of Boardmaker software to enhance visual timetable with cues re routines and boundaries

  • Whole team training on emotion coaching

  • Training for two practitioners on the Early Talk Boost programme

  • Creation of a Pupil Premium lending library with a range of high quality books to enhance home learning

  • Providing Lunch Club sessions to promote school readiness

  • Additional staff hours to support transition to Primary School for vulnerable learners: additional visits in to Nursery School, supported visits to Primary School for child and parent, successful application for additional funding in Reception Year, involvement in appointment and training of TA for child’s Reception class

  • Work by our Teaching Assistant (a trained US Occupational Therapist) to devise and offer a sensory programme

  • Extension Literacy opportunities for gifted learner, including phonics, writing and reading (including purchase of a reading scheme and enhancing the pupil premium lending library with more challenging fiction and non-fiction books)

  • 1:1 EAD sessions to promote talk, wellbeing and involvement in an identified area of interest and strength

Early Years Pupil Premium 2016-2017

In the academic year 2016-2017 the spend of Early Years Pupil Premium to date is as follows:

  • Autumn 2016 £1224.30
  • Spring 2017 £1240.20
  • Summer 2017 £2520.00

    • Teaching Assistant hours targeted to deliver speech, language and communication development programme (Early Talk Boost) and 1-1 language support

    • Additional sessions in Nursery School to support attendance, to promote school readiness, to enable parents to attend meetings with other professionals involved with their child or family

    • Additional Forest School sessions for children with limited access to outdoor experiences or to extend access to this provision where we have observed a positive impact on children’s social, language, wellbeing, involvement or self-regulation skills

    • Living Eggs experience: a stimulus for involvement, talk and nurture at the start of the Nursery School year

    • Teaching Assistant hours targeted to support pupil engagement and the development of self-regulation skills

    • Whole team training on protective behaviours

    • Providing each child with their own copy of a termly high quality “core” book and a writing resources pack to support home learning and connections between home and learning in Nursery School

    • Providing a full day in Nursery School, including Lunch Club sessions, to promote school readiness

  • Additional staff hours to support transition to Primary School for vulnerable learners: additional visits in to Nursery School, supported visits to Primary School for child and parent