Introducing 'the Woodlands'

The Woodlands preschool is purpose built in the grounds of Clifton All Saints Academy.. It's location, being adjacent to the schools grassed play area and nestled within trees provides a tranquil setting with a natural and picturesque outlook. Built in spring 2008, the building had been designed with children in mind and therefore has a safe, attractive interior with a wide range of games and activities and is further complemented by a large, varied and secure garden for outdoor play. The Woodlands houses both the Pre-school and Breakfast and After school clubs; details of which can be found with the extended care prospectus in 'documents' and also on the extended care section of the website.

The aim of our Pre-school is threefold. It is to enhance the development and education of children under statutory school age in a parent-involving, community based group; to provide a safe, secure and stimulating environment; and to work within a framework that ensures equality of opportunity for all children and families. Children gain in skill and understanding through their play, especially when it is fun and they are able to share their enjoyment with an adult and talk through their discoveries. At Pre-school your child will not be taught but will learn in their own time. Pre-school gives them the opportunity to share with other children, to accept new situations, to experiment with different materials, to express themselves in many different ways, to develop language skills, to work things out for themselves and to make friendships that continue on to school.

Transitioning To School

As children enter their last year/ terms at preschool we will begin to prepare the them for their transition to school. We provide extended learning opportunities and activities such as rhyming, phonics and early math skills. Although we provide more group activities, children are still able to learn through free play activities with a variety of toys and resources different from preschool. The programme is carefully planned by experienced practitioners who fully understand children's development and how to progress them to be school ready. We focus promoting skills that will help children transition into school such as being able to sit still and concentrate for extended periods of time, or to begin recognise their own name.

We invite teachers into Woodlands to meet their new students, and attend the school concerts and other events to let the children become prepared for school. Children become use to the school environment and begin to engage in learning that will continue into reception class.

Each year we invite parents in for a presentation on how to help their children to become school ready. Our Deputy, supported by the team to discuss with parents the Central Beds 16 ticks 'Is your child ready to learn?', offering advice and ideas. This is always well turned out and parents have found the evening useful and informative, commenting that it has helped put their minds at ease and now know what to expect. This year due to Covid-19 restrictions we held this over Zoom which turned out even more successful than before with more being able to attend.


1) I did attend the school readiness talk and found it helpful. It was useful to know how able and independent my child should be by the time he begins school. The tips and hints from personal experience of the staff were great too.

2) I did attend and found the information interesting, knowing things that my child should be doing in order to be ready for school and have me a bit more of an idea of what’s to come.

3) Loved the transition program- shame it cannot be done for longer in the year as so beneficial but understand the effort and planning that goes in it to make it so successful

4) The program for my child has been brilliant. She can be quite shy in new situations and also get overwhelmed with large groups of children who are older than her, so we have been worried about how she would cope with starting school. We were very lucky that she got a place at Clifton which means that she is familiar with the school, has experienced school dinners which is a great idea, and also is happy that she knows what to expect - she can’t wait to start school in September and I genuinely feel that Woodlands has had a big impact on that.

Our Staff Team & Key Person System

Staffing & Qualifications

Our Manager is Sarah Shanley holds an NQV Level 5 qualification & Rachael Small is our Deputy who holds an Early Years Professional Status. We are very proud of our professional staff team and consider ourselves to be fortunate to have a dedicated team who are all highly qualified. At woodlands almost all members of staff are of a Level 3 status, with 1 of them holding a BA honours in early years. Together they have many years of experience in Early Years Learning establishments.

All staff are fully DBS checked and first aid qualified. Our staff attend regular training sessions in areas such as behaviour management, safeguarding, and risk assessment. All staff names, pictures and qualifications are displayed on the external display board with details of how the staff are deployed. The staff rota is also displayed in the main room again showing staff deployment.

Key Person System

Every Pre-school child has a designated ‘Key person’. Each Key person has special responsibilities for a small number of children and will form a close relationship with both the child and their parents. The Key person will get to know your child individually and will provide the extra reassurance which makes them feel safe and cared for . We value and recognise the importance of the relationship between staff, parents and the children working in partnership together to provide the very best environment for your child. The key person will tailor our curriculum to the unique needs of each child and this is shown in their Individual learning Plan (ILP). The ILP is a careful record of your child’s development and progress and which can be regularly reviewed in discussion with your Key person. It contains records of events and activities of your child’s day by written observations and photographs and can be seen at any time. A transition report is compiled from your childs ILP which is passed onto your childs next school, the ILP is yours to keep when your child leaves the Woodlands.


Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility.

Year on year our safeguarding knowledge and practice is improved through training and experience. This knowledge is cascaded down through the team to ensure children are safe and protected, including radicalisation and extremism. We have strict policies and procedures in the setting to keep children safe. The children know the rules and boundaries of the setting and what is expected of them. We have a rules board which the children helped create through discussions and decision making as a group as to what they thought were expected behaviours. We regularly reinforce this by discussing it in small groups or during circle time.

As a team we have created a culture of vigilance where children’s welfare is actively promoted. We require our staff to role model good practice and encourage older children to reinforce this for the younger children by setting a good example. Our regularly updated safeguarding knowledge ensures staffs confidence and ability to recognise and report any concerns. Children are listened to and feel safe with high ratios always being maintained so that all children are well supervised. Management risks assess the premises, equipment and staffing to ensure that high standards of health and safety are met throughout. This plays a vital part in safeguarding children’s welfare.

Our Management committee take part in annual online Safeguarding training and also join in team training, ensuring they are kept up to date on various sub-topics of safeguarding and understand their roles and responsibilities.

We ensure all staff understand our Whistleblowing procedures which are introduced during the induction process and regularly revisited during staff meetings. Posters are displayed in the Kitchen &staff room with contact details of our committee members.

If you ever have a concern towards a child, member of staff or family member please speak to one of the following people:

Sarah is our Designated Safeguarding Lead, Rachael is the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead, our chair person is our Designated Safeguarding Committee Member.


Useful contact numbers & emails

Woodlands Preschool - 01462 811486

Woodlands Preschool committee -

All Saints Academy - 01462 628444

Shefford & District Children's Center - 0300 300 8112



1) Dear all, my husband and I have really enjoyed reading both this report and the paper copy. It really made us smile. The report paints a picture of a very happy ... at preschool who is open to learning and really embracing the experience. We think he is coming on leaps and bounds in all aspects since starting with you guys and he talks so positively about preschool at home. Thank you for all your hard work with ... and supporting him so well with his potty training.

2) I think communication between staff and parents is outstanding. I feel so comfortable knowing I can contact the setting at anytime and will get a swift response if not immediately. I was so impressed at how well my son's key person knew him, always encouraging his development and continuously supporting him. The staff are always friendly and welcoming and management are always around to discuss anything if needs be.

3) I have been so impressed with all the staff even from our first visit they have been so warm and friendly. ... has built a lovely relationship with her keyworker but also with a lot of other staff members too. I was always comfortable leaving her in their care and feel like they genuinely care for all the children. She has made great progress in her year at woodlands, and always been happy to be there, so massive thank you to all staff.

4) Yes all methods were explained well and theobservation and development process is reinforced with evidence via e-mail/hard copy which is wonderful to read as a parent and is very reassuring. I didrespond to the focus week e-mail and found it a great way to communicatesignificant events happening at home in my child's life.


E Lines (Reception Class Teacher, Clifton All Saints academy

“The Woodlands preschool has fully prepared the children in our provision for school life. The staff within the setting were proactive and forthcoming in developing positive transition systems with myself and the rest of the EYFS team. The children visited the setting on various occasions for a variety of reasons. The first visit the children make is to watch the Christmas performance. This is a short visit to simply introduce the idea of 'school' to them. Bluebird's session begin in the spring term for the oldest children and as the year progresses further the remainder of the children attend the sessions. Bluebirds greatly enhance the children's ability to settle into school life. The children are given slightly more structure to their morning and this helps them respond to adult led activities better in school. The staff from both settings work together to arrange a timetable of visits in the summer term. The children greatly benefit from these sessions as they are able to familiarise themselves with the setting and the staff. The EYPP funding has been used well to support those children with their phonics. As a result of the work done in Woodlands and Robins the reading results increased from 72% to 80% of children achieving age related to expectations. In summary the strong links between the two settings ensure that the children are school ready.”

L Needham (Early Years Team Leader and Reception Teacher Raynsford Lower School)

Testimonial: “We have been collaborating with Woodlands now for the past year. We have shared ideas about organisation of the pre-school, done some work shadowing, observed and advised on each other's settings and shared best practice with regards to planning. We feel we have an excellent working relationship which is transparent and reciprocal. We have benefited from the local pre-school network forum meetings (of which Woodlands is a member), where we have also been able to discuss poignant topics affecting not only us, but all other local pre-schools”.

E Butterworth (Speech Therapist)

“I have worked with Woodlands Preschool for the past couple of years, helping to support some of the children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The staff have always been so welcoming and accommodating, and are always keen to do their best to support the children and their individual needs. I enjoy working with the staff at Woodlands as they have such a creative and child-centred approach to everything they do. They take on board any advice given and often go above and beyond so that the right support can be put in place. They make time to access and organise staff training so that they are able to maintain and develop their knowledge and skills in the area of speech and language. Woodlands provides a very nurturing and enabling environment for children with SLCN, and I feel very lucky that I get to work with them.”

Special Educational Needs, Looked After Children & Early Years Pupil Premium (eypp)

At Woodlands our aim is to provide a rich, varied environment supporting all children’s learning and development. We offer a secure, safe,happy, child friendly environment where everyone is welcome and included.

We encourage children to take their first steps maximising each individual child’s abilities and talents within the Early Years Foundation Stage.

We see each parent/carer and professional as partners in our team.We promote equal opportunities, removing all barriers for all children,parents, carers and staff. We will not discriminate on the basis of gender,race, culture or disability.

We believe every child is unique and deserves the best possible start in life. We support all children to fulfill their potential enabling them to make a smooth transition to future educational settings.

We do this by:

Providing an accessible building including ramps for wheelchair access and an accessible toilet. We have a hearing loop installed for children and parents with hearing impairments.

All toys and activities are easily accessible at a child friendly level. We provide a visual time table to assist children with the routine in session.

To support children with English has an additional language we provide bi lingual books, toys and games in their home culture. We have voice boxes with recorded phrases in their home language and we additionally provide posters in multiple languages. We have safety surfaces both in and outside our setting.

;Our staff team are qualified to a high level & we have three staff specialising in SEND. All staff recently cooperated & worked towards achieving the communication friendly award, We feel passionate about improving all children’s language & literacy skills. We pride ourselves on an outstanding reputation of supporting children with additional needs, working hard to nurture & develop our relationships with SEND families. Staff are always willing to take on additional training as required.

We welcome all families to our setting & encourage everyone to call us to arrange a visit. Thank you.

Central Bedfordshire's local offer:  

Times, Prices, Funding And Vouchers

Early morning drop off - 8.30/8.45am - 9.00am

Preschool morning session - 9.00am - 12.00pm

Preschool afternoon session - 12.10pm - 3.10pm

Afterschool Club - 3.10pm - 4.30/5.00

Please see our Preschool Prospectus in Documents for more information on Woodlands including prices, funding, childcare vouchers and much more!

School Readiness And Transition To School

Woodlands provides an environment for children to explore, gain a sense of self, play with peers and build self-confidence and independence. Children learn they can accomplish tasks and make decisions without the help of their parents. Throughout a child's time at Woodlands we are preparing them for the next stage of development, ultimately to move onto reception class at school and we aim for every child to be school ready by the time they move on from us.

As the child enters the last terms at Woodlands we begin to provide extended learning opportunities. We call this our Bluebirds programme and each child had the opportunity to take part. During these sessions we provide small group activities where child learn and practice school readiness skills such as being able to sit still and listen for a longer length of time, to be able to recognise their own name and begin to make marks to represent it, to be able to talk in sentences and us extended vocabulary and much more. All the skills we work towards are child led, individual to each child and their peer group. We also follow the 16 Ticks 'Is your child ready to learn?' guidance from Central Bedfordshire as well as following the guidance from the Early Years framework.

To help prepare children for school we aim to familiarise themselves with their new environment and teachers. We invite teachers and support staff into Woodlands to spend time with their new pupils, we support the children during these times and help the children to engage in conversation and to feel comfortable and supported. We also take children over to their reception class if they are going to All Saints Academy for stay and play sessions. If a child is going to another feeder school we will accompany them to their settling in sessions where possible. As covid-19 restrictions have changed our usual transistion routines we are establishing new ways of helping the children meet their teachers and see their new classroom environment.

The Committee

Woodlands is a charity run preschool overseen by a management committee of volunteer parents. On the committee are the Chair person, the Treasurer, and the Secretary, supported by general committee members. The preschool manager, deputy and finance manager work closely with the committee and meet termly to discuss a variety of subjects including registers, staffing, safeguarding training and other topics that may arise.

All committee members are DBS checked and officially associated with Woodlands via Ofsted. They have all completed online safeguarding training.

;Our annual AGM (annual general meeting) is held each year in October, all parents are invited to attend. Reports are read from the committee members and management. This is an opportunity for current committee members to step down and new members to be nominated.

;If you have any queries or would like to contact the committee directly please email

Planning Methods

We would like to tell you about how we plan the resources and activities available at preschool.

‘We do not plan ahead, rather we remain ‘in the moment’ with the children as they explore and learn. We observe carefully, and enhance the learning whenever we spot a ‘teachable moment’. Our observations, interactions and the outcomes are recorded afterwards.’ (The Nursery Year in Action – Anna Ephgrave).

Child-initiated learning in the early years allows children to thrive while making accelerated progress. Young children learn and develop best when they are in a stimulating environment that is carefully organised and equipped to meet their needs, interests and stages of development. Where each child’s progress is carefully observed, managed and enhanced by adults who engage and interact with them to support them in making outstanding learning.

Each week we choose a handful of children to be focused on for a week. We call this their ‘focus week’ and use this time to intently observe their play, identify their learning and support their development. Once a term you will receive an email which requires some up to date information on how you feel your child is developing and whether there are any significant events happening in their lives. We use this information to inform the resources and activities we provide that week.

Please take a look at the ‘rational’ (attachment) to help explain the process of focus weeks, and how we plan in the moment.

For the children who are not currently in their focus week, they will continue to carry on with their own learning journeys (even though they are not recorded in the same way).Sometimes they journey on their own, sometimes with a friend or a group and sometimes by joining an activity with one of the focus children. Staff members are always free to support other individuals or groups. As with the individual children, staff will look out for activities or events that have captured the interest of a group. They will join the group to see if they can support, enhance or develop the activity in any way. They are observing and assessing. Sometimes the group is operating independently and with deep-level involvement and any attempt to join the activity might actually disrupt it. In this situation the adult may observe for a while, possibly taking particular note of some children and then move away. However, on many occasions the skilful staf member will spot a ‘teachable moment’. They then decide what to do – this is planning. They might provide an extra resource, an idea, some vocabulary, some information or they might model a skill or demonstrate how to use a piece of equipment – this is teaching.

With all this wonderful teaching, the children soon start to do things independently and when such moments are observed we refer to them as ‘Wow!’ moments, these will be recorded.

After your child has had their focus week, their key person will spend some time evaluating their focus time observations. From these they can see where they have developed their learning and understanding and how we can move the children on to making more progress. The key person will make suggestions as to how parents can continue their learning at home and then summarise their week, before emailing it home via the2Simple program. You will receive your child’s observation sheet soon after to keep.

If you have any questions please speak to either Sarah, Rachael or your child’s key person.

Health And Safety - Covid19

Please read the Covid19 risk assessment in the documents section of this website to understand the measures we have put in place to keep everyone at Woodlands safe. This is regularly updated to ensure we are following current guidelines and the roadmap set out by the government with restrictions lifting.

Our staff are all testing twice weekly to catch infections early. We have increased all cleaning and hygiene measures throughout all our practice. We encourage parents to test twice weekly and require children to take a PCR test if they are symptomatic before returning to preschool. We reserve the right to ask parents to collect their child from session if they begin to display symptoms or become unwell.

Testing clarification – There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). The test you need depends on why you're getting tested.

The 2 main tests are:

If your child displays Covid symptoms such as a new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss or change in smell or taste they must get a PCR test. We cannot accept lateral flow test results as these are for testing people if they DO NOT have any symptoms. 

As the lockdown restrictions lift, we will continue to make testing a priority in order to continue keep our staff and children safe, particularly as the new variant of concern is increasing in our local area. Please inform us if you are having your child tested and let us know the results as soon as possible. We will ask you to collect your child from preschool if they show symptoms or seem unwell whilst in our care.

Panco - Physical And Nutrition

Promoting Physical Activity

We ensure that children in our care are supported and encouraged to engage in physical, active play, develop fundamental movement skills and limit sedentary time in line with current recommendations and the requirements of the EYFS.

At Woodlands, we have introduced the PANCO role (Physical Activity and Nutrition Coordinator) , a recent national and local initiative to help promote physical activity and nutrition in babies and children. The PANCO will be a positive role model to children/parents, carers and colleagues in promoting healthy lifestyle choices and will keep up to date on information and give guidance on nutrition and physical activity. We have two members of staff who are qualified PANCO's They are Cheryl and Julie. Both members of staff are happy to discuss any queries around physical activity or nutrition.

Parental support is vital in ensuring children reach the recommended level of physical activity. This can be done through active travel to and from Woodlands.

The UK Chief Medical Officers have bought in new guidelines for children aged birth-5 years to aim for at least 3 hours of Physical Activity every day.

In doing so it helps to…….

v Build relationships and social skills

v Maintain health and weight

v Improve sleep

v Develop muscles and bones

v Contribute to brain development and learning

v Encourage movement and co-ordination

v Improve attention

v Develop self confidence

v Increase fitness

v Build a healthy heart

Please see 'PANCo lunch guidelines' in the documents section for information on healthy lunches.