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Tenth anniversary celebration for St Richard's Nursery Unit

The party to celebrate the tenth anniversary was organised by the management team: l-r Moya Monachan (Hon. Treasurer), Julie Hawkins (Hon. Sec.) (2008 - Amy Owen) Sarah Weymouth (Chairperson) Paula Solieri (Vice-Chairperson). A special cake was added to refreshments eagerly awaited by the youngsters and parents alike. Fr Kieron blessed and re-dedicated the Unit - commending their achievement in their first decade, and looking to further success in the next.

UPDATE JAN 2010 - Officers have changed. Chair - Amy Owen, Secretary for committee Sonia Haywood, Treasurer is Caroline Johnston

A presentation was made to the Nursery Supervisor, Mrs. Rosie Beal, by Paula Solieri on behalf of the management team.

The team took pride in the report by Ofsted that the quality of their work was high - and it's no surprise that they plan expansion of the facilities, the better to support their 72 pupils and the staff. The relationship with St Richard's Primary school remains close, but they have an independent management team.

The Nursery Unit is sited alongside the church, and on the boundary of St Richard's School playing field.

Paula Solieri writes:

"The Nursery started its life in the 1970s as a mother and toddler group in the Parish Rooms and for many years was successfully run under the leadership of Sally Minton. The introduction of government Nursery Funding and a curriculum for Early Years prompted plans for a purpose built Nursery offering better facilities for the children.

A decision was made to build a unit on an underused part of St Richard’s Catholic Primary School’s playing field.

How was the project to be funded?

Records show that during a church service,the parish priest Monsignor Michael Jackson appealed to the good nature and wallets of the parishioners and made it clear that funds needed to be raised and fast!

The Parishioners from Chichester, Selsey and the Witterings rose to the challenge with relish and within a matter of weeks had raised and generously donated a sum of approximately £50,000.00 to the Parish.

Plans were quickly drawn and planning permission was granted on the 16th December 1996.

By April 1997 the new purpose built Nursery Unit was up and running with an intake of 26 children aged from three to four years.

Mrs.Rosie Beal was appointed as Nursery Supervisor with initially, two non-teaching assistants.

From the start, the Nursery has had a close liaison with St. Richard’s Catholic Primary School, although does not act as a feeder for a place in the Primary School. This strong relationship continues.

Under Rosie’s very able management and the hard work of all her staff the nursery has, over the last 10 years, gone from strength to strength. By the end of 2005, the Nursery was providing the Lunch Club as an extension of the morning session and in 2006 was registered for full day care.

The Nursery is open Monday to Friday during term time. Two sessions are run each day between 8.50am and 3.30pm and the popular Lunch Club continues.

From an initial intake of 26, the number of children on the roll has now increased to full capacity of 72, with a waiting list. Notice was certainly taken of the following comments:

“Some work has to be done to encourage a rise in nursery numbers”

School Promotion Group meeting 2.2.98

“While sessions are full at present there is some concern regarding future numbers and marketing is necessary”

Nursery Committee 10.10.03

"Staffing has also more than doubled to meet the increased number of children".

On the 9th May 2007, the Nursery underwent a very successful Ofsted which highlighted amongst other things:

“the wonderfully developed inside and outside learning environments”, “the excellent use of routines, group activities and child initiated play” and “the children’s positive attitude towards learning”.

Plans are now underway to extend the Nursery so as to provide an even better environment for the children and the staff, to hopefully include a new lobby area, outside canopy and larger kitchen area. Although there may be the possibility of a grant, no doubt some fundraising will be needed!

Since its inception, the Nursery has been a financially independent unit under the umbrella of St Richard’s Catholic Primary School and the running of the Nursery has been overseen by a Management Committee with representatives from the School’s governing board. Due to the Nursery’s expansion to a day care provider, a separate Management Committee was set up in June 2006, to assist Rosie to formalise matters and take on overall responsibility for running the Nursery.

To reflect the current status of the Nursery, the name has now been changed to St Richard’s Nursery Unit.