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Ballykeel Primary School & Nursery Unit

The Six Areas of the Pre-School Curriculum


Ballykeel Primary School Nursery Unit has provided, and continues to provide, high quality preschool education for pre-school children.  The current Nursery Unit was built in 1999 with excellent, purpose built, indoor and outdoor learning environments for young children.

The Nursery Curriculum follows the “Curricular Guidance for Pre-School Education” set out by the Department for Education forNorthern Ireland ( ).

Partnership with Parents

The staff of Ballykeel Nursery Unit are professional, motivated, caring and welcoming.  Parents/carers are viewed as the first educator of their children and the staff work in partnership with the parents/carers to maximise the education and care of the children.

Parents /carers are not only encouraged to get involved in the usual fund- raising or everyday running of the Nursery, but they are warmly invited to join parenting classes which are held during Nursery hours such as ICT, aerobics and jewellery making classes.  These classes prove to be very popular and offer opportunities for the parents/carers to form friendships and offer support to each other for the demanding yet rewarding job of parenting/caring.

The Six Areas of the Pre-School Curriculum

While the Curriculum for Pre-School Education is set out under six discrete headings:-

The Arts;

Language Development;

Early Mathematical Experiences;

Personal, Social and Emotional Development;

Physical Development and Movement;

The World Around Us

The staff of Ballykeel Nursery Unit take a holistic approach to the education and care of the children.  They work tirelessly through their up to date training and reflective practice to ensure a high quality, safe, stimulating and happy learning environment for the children and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere for parents/ carers and the extended families.

The Arts

The Nursery curriculum provides the children with opportunities for creativity through painting, drawing, clay, dough, 3D model making, music, drama, story telling and role play.  The Nursery children are encouraged to dress up and perform their Nativity Play for their parents/carers family and friends.  The staff provide parents with regular song and rhyme sheets to encourage family involvement.  Each classroom in Ballykeel Nursery is well equipped with imaginative play areas such as the home corner supported with role play dressing up clothes, props and puppets.

Language Development

The staff at Ballykeel Nursery actively promote opportunities for the children to engage in meaningful, natural two-way conversations to enhance the children’s rapidly growing vocabulary and early acquisition of language.  They practice OWL techniques which is a proven Early Years Language support tool of    “Observation, Wait and Listen”.  Such techniques have enormous linguistic benefits for all children but in particular for children who are reticent at first to speak or for whom English is a second language.  Throughout the busy Nursery year many visitors join the children for example from the NEELB service to help foster a love of literature and the children can avail of lending library books from the Nursery.

Early Mathematical Experiences

Mathematical concepts are important for everyday life and they should develop naturally and in a fun way for young children.  We as adults often agree that our earliest recollection of  “mathematics, arithmetic or sums”  in school were often tinged with tearful, frustrating or frightening memories of failure and getting our sums wrong!  At Ballykeel Nursery the children are encouraged to problem solve at their developmental pace through one-to-one support or by working in small groups of children.  Through fun filled activities such as sand and water play the children happily learn early mathematical concepts such as full, empty, more or less.  By reciting poems, finger rhymes and singing songs the children learn to count in a fun, non threatening way.  The staff at Ballykeel monitor the children’s progress in all areas of the curriculum through regular and systematic classroom observations.  From these observations the staff collectively evaluate the play provision and plan their level of support for the children’s progression.   The children have access to a range of ICT facilities and resources throughout the year.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

At Ballykeel Nursery the staff are professional and sensitive to the PSE of the young children.  It is widely recognised that without a happy, secure and stimulating learning environment adults, children and in particular young children will not flourish and reach their full potential.  Therefore, the Nursery has a well established settling in period when the children can adjust to their environment and feel relaxed and confident before staying for their school lunch and engaging in the full –time session.  The staff are experienced and work closely with the parents/carers during this vital settling in period.  The children are encouraged in self help skills such as caring for their own personal belongings, tidying up and setting their place for school lunches.  The Nursery follows the excellent example of the Primary School in addressing unacceptable behaviour through pastoral care programmes.  The School and Nursery enjoy taking part in and hosting various events such as; “BLUE DAY” (Be Loving and Kind to Everyone”)  when the children could dress in blue.

Physical Development and Movement

A lot of extensive educational research has supported the causal link between the benefits of physical exercise and brain development.  We in the Early Years strongly believe that young children need confidence and practice to develop their gross motor and loco motor skills such as bending, twirling, running, climbing and crawling before they can successfully acquire their finer motor skills such as pencil or scissor control.  Fortunately, the Nursery at Ballykeel has access to the school assembly hall when the weather is inclement for physical exercise, and can readily avail of the full extensive range of PE equipment from the school’s repertoire.  Consequently, it is the policy of the Nursery to play outdoors every day when possible.  This stance is eagerly endorsed by the children as they revel in the freedom of the outdoor environment. Therefore, the children need to bring a coat everyday as temperature is no barrier to the seasonal observations and learning potential of the outdoor play area.  The Nursery is fortunate to have a well developed outdoor area with large climbing apparatus, wooden play house, slide, sit and ride wheeled vehicles.  The children feed the birds, watch for squirrels, go on mini-beast hunts and enjoy sweeping and gathering leaves during autumn.

The World Around Us

Ballykeel Primary School and Nursery Unit are the proud recipient of an ECO Schools award for their environmental endeavours.  The children recycle paper, cardboard and plastic.  They plant their apple, orange and pear seeds and help to gather weeds to put into the schools compost bins.   The pinnacle of the school’s success was winning the “BEST KEPT SCHOOLS AWARD”  2007, in the medium section, NEELB.

The Nursery children enjoy the benefit of the school’s secret garden and learn about wind power, this will be an exciting opportunity to see and hear first hand what a wind turbine looks and sounds like!  It is the philosophy of Ballykeel Nursery to have the indoor curriculum outdoors and that there is natural, fun learning opportunities to embrace all around us.  The Nursery children enjoy many educational visits from ROSPA the road safety department, and other people who help us such as the dentist, vet and police service.  The children go on an annual visit to a farm or forest to help develop their appreciation of their environment.

Ballykeel has a broad and balanced Pre-School Curriculum with the emphasis being on play based learning to help equip the children with the firm foundations and disposition for life long learning.  Come and visit us and view the facilities and talk to the staff.  Sending your child to Ballykeel Nursery Unit will be the first positive step in their educational journey.