House of Commons Nursery run by London Early Years Foundation Wins Gold Award for Healthy Early Years London
The House of Commons Nursery operated by London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) has been awarded the Healthy Early Years London Gold (HEYL) award for its outstanding achievements in child health, wellbeing and development in Early Years settings.
The awards scheme, which is funded by the Mayor of London, is aimed at reducing health inequalities by supporting a healthy start to life across themes that include healthy eating, oral and physical health and early cognitive development.
Split across four award levels (First Steps, Bronze, Silver and Gold), LEYF first won Bronze in 2016. Intent on building on this success, they later won Silver in 2017 with a focus on the Healthy Early Years London Awardin Purposeful Physical Play. This helped to challenge their thinking around creative play, as the nursery does not have a direct outdoor space. LEYF wanted to look at ways of improving its physical activities indoors to ensure that children were getting the required amount of 3 hours exercise each day.
Just twelve months later, after a careful review of its 2017 action plan (from the Silver award), LEYF completed a review reporting tool which focused on planned outcomes and ways of improvement. This included:
Increasing the percentage of staff who know what the UK Physical Activity guidelines are for children under 5
Increasing the percentage of staff who know what the UK Physical guidelines are for adults
Increasing the percentage of staff who can describe the 4 movement experiences for the different areas of entitlement for children
Increasing the percentage of staff who can describe the 5 areas of risky play
After various discussions to ascertain how the nursery could continue to implement purposeful physical play both indoors and outdoors, LEYF’s staff learned important key facts on exercise for adults and children such as:
Adults need 30 minutes a day, children need 3 hours a day
How long children should be kept sedentary for in one day (children should only be sedentary during sleep time and meal times)
What can be changed in our daily routine to avoid unnecessary sedentary behaviour in our children
Identifying six areas of risky play (great heights, rapid speeds, dangerous tools, dangerous elements, rough and tumble, disappearing/hide and seek) and how to implement these categories in activities
Since the nursery does not have a garden/playground, a planting project with the local park officer has been agreed which was one of many planned outcomes. Other actions have included a session with MyTimeActive who visited the nursery to show exciting, energy-burning activities that can be done with children, as well as a workshop for parents about exercise for children, screen time and local gyms that offer support and activities for parents with children under 5 years.
As a result, children have become much more confident and braver in taking part in risky play and staff are becoming more confident the more they practise with the children.
LEYF House of Commons Nursery Manager Anjali Deb- Mukherjee says:
“We have been involved with the HEYL Programme for the last two years, which has been an exciting journey to learn new skills and challenge our thinking and planning around nutrition and physical activities. As a result, teachers are more confident and creative in offering risky play during daily activities. We are extremely proud of our achievement in accomplishing the Gold HEY Award.”
June O’Sullivan MBE and CEO of LEYF says:
“Getting a good start in life, building emotional resilience and getting maximum benefit from education are the most important markers for good health and wellbeing throughout life. Early Years settings must play a major part in this.
Latest research indicates that almost a quarter of British children are overweight by the time they start primary school and inequalities continue to exist across London and the UK. That’s why we owe it to every child to give them a healthy start to life – the best we can.”