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Rachel McMillan Nursery School and Childrens Centre

Rachel McMillan Nursery School
and Children's Centre

Nursery School Organisation

Our Nursery School is for 2, 3 and 4 year old children.

All together we are able to have 104 full time equivalent (FTE) children and 32 places for children in receipt of 'Together For Two's' funding. This means that depending on uptake of part-time or full-time children we can have between 130 -165 children attending. 

Some children come in the morning, some in the afternoon and some are here all day so they are not all here at the same time. Our children move from the Nursery School in the school year that they turn 5 years old to a wide variety of local primary schools.

Our classrooms are called Shelters. This was the name given to the rooms by our founder Margaret McMillan as when the school was first built the rooms were completely open on one side as she believed that playing outside and access to the open air was really good for children. Today each shelter has large doors or folding windows that open up onto the garden. They are atmospheric and characterful learning spaces.

Children go into which ever shelter has a space when they enter the school and they stay in the same shelter until they are old enough to move
to primary school.


Every child belongs to a shelter (their class base). Our 2, 3 and 4 year olds are in mixed age classes because, like a family, the differently aged children can learn a lot from each other and show a lot of care for one another. Each Shelter can have between 15 and 20 full- time two, three and four year old children, up to 16 part time children in the morning and up to 10 part time children in the afternoon. Children go into which ever shelter has a space when they enter the school and they stay in the same shelter until they are old enough to move to primary school.

All the shelters open onto a large garden play area (staffed by each shelter) so there is the opportunity for children to ‘free flow’ throughout all the shelters and the garden. The garden play space is open, no matter what the weather and children are allowed to play inside or outside throughout the nursery.

Shelters 1, 2, 3 and 4 are staffed by qualified teachers, early years practitioners, and teaching assistants. Every child has a key person (known here as a Family Worker) to support their learning and development. All our staff are very experienced and staff turnover is very low.

Shelters 1, 2, 3 and 4 are open 5 days a week for 38 weeks of the year. We follow the same term dates as primary and secondary schools.

School Times – for part-time (15 hour) places:

  • Morning session: 8:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
  • Afternoon Session: 12.30pm to 3.30pm

Your child will have 5 x 3 hour part-time sessions, either morning or afternoon, to make up their 15 hours. 

School Times – for full-time (30 hour) places:

  • School Day: 9:30 a.m. – 3.30pm
  • Or with the additional ‘Early Start’*: 8.45 a.m. – 3.30pm
  • Your child will have 5 x 6 hour sessions to make up their 30 hours.

*An Additional ‘Early Start’ can be purchased to allow your child to start at 8:45am. These additional hours are not available on an ad-hoc basis but need to be a regular arrangement for the duration of the school year.

In addition to the school times we also offer Extended Day ‘Wrap around care’ for families needing extra hours in the term time or school holidays.

About the staff:

The Nursery School is led by a qualified Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher, both of whom have considerable teaching experience.

All shelter staff are qualified professionals. Teachers have completed a recognised degree course plus teaching qualification, specialising in young children, and early years practitioners have completed the equivalent of a two-year full time examination course at a college of further education or NVQ3 course in Early Years and Childcare. Our teaching assistants are all trained to at least NVQ2. Working together, they form a balanced experienced team to meet your child's needs.  There is a program of continual professional development within the Nursery School for all staff.