Puffin Pre-School

Call us

01371 876375

Email us



Foakes Hall, Dunmow

Puffin Pre-School

Call us

01371 876375

Email us



Foakes Hall, Dunmow

Puffin Pre-School

Parental Information

Puffin Pre-School was originally set up in 1982 by a group of parents whose children had outgrown their toddler group. We are a committee run charitable organisation.

Puffin pre school playtime great dunmow

A Day at Puffins

At Puffins, we support children’s learning and development with a mixture of child led and adult led activities.

Our activities take into account seasonal celebrations, cultural events and spontaneous learning opportunities but, most importantly, the interests and experiences of the children themselves. We ensure that all toys and activities are readily available so each child has the opportunity to participate in the full range irrespective of which days they attend.

We are fortunate enough to have the use of three areas that the children have free flow access to. In the “Kitchen” we have a variety of messy play including painting, sand and water. In the “Bike Room” we have a range of activities changed on a weekly basis including physical activities and music and movement. The “Main Room” has a role play area, home corner, book corner, small world and construction areas, as well as an area to work fine motor skills.

We have 2 toilet facilities, one for the children and a separate one for staff and visitors. Children have named drawers and coat pegs for their belongings.

Adult led activities: These are based on the observations and interests, of each child, which are then used in the learning, development and next steps of the child’s learning journey.

Supporting your child’s learning and development

A child’s first and most important form of learning and development is made through play.

Your child will be learning skills, acquiring knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS). The EYFS Framework is there to support all professionals working in the Early Years age group. It has a large emphasis on the adult’s role in helping the children develop. It sets out:

The legal welfare requirements that everyone registered to look after children must follow to keep your child safe and promote their welfare;

The 7 areas of learning and development which guide professionals’ engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge;

Assessments that will tell you about your child’s progress through the EYFS;

The expected levels (Early Learning Goals) that your child should reach at the age of 5, which is usually at the end of their reception year.

We place great focus on developing the 3 prime areas first:

Communication & language

Physical development

Personal, social & emotional development

These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas:



Understanding the world

Expressive arts and design

Fresh fruit for snacks at Puffin

Food and Drink​

We provide a healthy snack in the morning of fruit, vegetables, cheese and food such as toast or crackers, accompanied by milk or water.

Milk and water are always available for children throughout the session. We can cater for allergies and intolerances’ too. Please speak to a member of staff about your child’s dietary requirements.

Puffin Prospectus

Our prospectus is aimed to give you as a parent/carer a brief insight into our pre-school group.

Please click on the button below to access our prospectus.

Puffin Pre-School Prospectus_2022


Our policies are designed to offer the best possible experience for the children and families in the Group. They are reviewed on a regular basis and comments and suggestions from parents/carers are always welcome.

Our policies are designed to offer the best possible experience for the children and families in the Group. They are reviewed on a regular basis and comments and suggestions from parents/carers are always welcome. A Table of Content for the “Policies, Procedures & Practices” document is available here and some policies are accessible online by clicking the links below. Should you wish to view a particular policy that is not listed below please contact us


Safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults


Maintaining children's safety and security whilst on the premises


Valuing diversity and promoting inclusion and equality


Supporting childen with SEN


We are registered to accepting government funding for education places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

A child born on or between; Will become eligible for a free place from;
1st April and 31st August 1st September following their third birthday
1st September and 31st December 1st January following their third birthday
1st January and 31st March 1st April following their third birthday

Those children eligible are entitled to 15 hours, a maximum of five funded sessions per week of at least 3 hours, for 38 weeks of the year.  These five sessions can be taken solely with ourselves (subject to places being available) or can be split with another provider.

30-hour funding

You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare if your child is 3 to 4 years old.

Visit the Government website HERE to see if you are eligible.

Two-year-old funding

We are eligible to receive the 15-hour entitlement for 2-year-old funding for those that meet the government criteria.

For more information, visit www.essex.gov.uk


Fees are currently £14.50 per session.

Invoices are sent out monthly in advance. We ask that these are paid promptly. Fees are payable even if a child is absent, as it is the place that is being paid for and not the attendance.  If an absence is likely to be prolonged the Manager should be consulted about fees. Each child’s attendance is conditional upon the payment of fees.

Lunch Club fees are charged at £2.50 for half an hour, 11.45am until 12.15pm. Please let us know if you want your child to attend Lunch Club as soon as possible, so that we can ensure suitable staff cover.  Please note, your child will need to bring their own packed lunch (No nut products).

pre school near dunmow

Puffin Pre-school SEND offer

At Puffin Pre School all of our staff are aware of their statutory duties and our Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs Policy for identifying, assessing and making provision for children with SEN. We follow the SEND Code of Practice and ensure each child is treated as an individual.

Your child will be allocated a key person who will be responsible for your child’s development. We use the Early Years Outcomes to assist us to assess the children. The Early Years Outcomes is a guidance that displays typical development for children from birth until they reach the end of reception year. It is set out in 7 areas of learning.

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

Through the use of observations, assessment and planning for their next steps we are able to identify any concerns which we will share with you, and with your consent we will contact other professionals if required.

We invite parents to share knowledge and information about their child with us so that we can understand their interests, likes/dislikes, favourite games/toys & places. This sharing process will be ongoing throughout your child’s time at preschool.

If you have any concerns about your child you should speak with your child’s key person who will be able to advise you further. You may also wish to speak with the setting SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator)/ Manager.

2-year old children that receive Disability Living Allowance are entitled to up to 15 hours free early education.

Every child has their own key person who will work with both you and your child. This relationship will ensure that we share knowledge concerning your child and their development.

This knowledge begins with an All About Me page you will receive on your settling in session. We also use a One Page Profile which you can share information about all the great things your child enjoys. Your child will have a Tapestry account (secure online learning journey that only you and staff can access) where your child’s key person will add observations and photos. Next steps will be taken from these observations. If after speaking with you we feel additional support is needed, the SENCO will, with you, create a specific individual learning plan & implement a Graduated Approach to meet their needs and your requirements. Using assessment and planning that involves you and your child is known as One Planning. Puffin Preschool and other professionals can ensure that you and your child are involved in all aspects of planning and decision making.

Through continual observations, using the Assess, Plan, Do, Review Cycle we can plan for your child including accessing additional support from other professionals as appropriate.

We undertake regular written observations and complete assessments (e.g. two-year checks) this enables us to monitor and ensure that your child is making progress, it helps us to identify needs and ensures your child is able to access a broad and balanced curriculum. If we find your child is making less than expected progress, with your permission, we may make contact with our Local Authority SEN team, health visitor and other professional like Speech and language therapists if required either for advice or to make a referral with any concerns. These professionals may be able to identify effective strategies or provide equipment needed. They may be able to advise other interventions to enable your child to make progress towards the desired learning and development outcomes. If necessary, with your permission, we can write a written report for the local GP or paediatrician sharing areas where your child may need some extra support.  

Every child is unique therefore we plan for your child’s development based on your child’s interests to provide creative learning opportunities that are enjoyable for your child. At Puffin Pre-School we use a programme called ‘Tapestry’ to upload observations of your child that will link directly with you so that you can see how your child is progressing and also allows you the opportunity to comment and add observations yourself. The environment your child plays in will be appropriate for their needs and additional support and resources will be supplied as appropriate. Our environment is free flow, so all children are able to access areas that they wish.

We run small group activities during our sessions that focus on developing speech, language & communication, sharing, turn taking, listening, waiting and developing attention. These sessions help all the children develop the key skills needed for their progress in the Early Years.

We are a committee run pre-school therefore every parent is automatically a member of the committee and welcome to attend termly meetings.

Strong relationships with parents are important to the pre-school. We operate an open-door policy and endeavour to spend time with parents to discuss their child’s progress and development, and to help you support your child. Sometimes this is more practical to book an appointment so staff can give you their full attention if matters need to be discussed in length. We also send out half termly newsletters. We send regular emails, and have Tapestry for parents and carers to keep updated with their child’s progress. We provide home learning packs for parents to take home to share with their children. When planning for a child’s “next steps” we ensure your child are family are at the centre of this and it is important to capture your views and wishes within any planning we do.

When needed we would implement a Graduated Approach to supporting your child’s areas of need. We plan our curriculum, map provision and evaluate the outcomes of our intervention.

You will be invited to review your child’s individual learning or support plan should there be one – This is a time in which we can share successes and plan continued support strategies together to enable your child to continue to make progress.

The SENCo and keyperson will work closely with you and other professionals to determine your child’s needs. We have regular staff meetings to involve all practitioners in any support required. In addition, the key person will be able to identify any additional support through observations required by the Early Years Foundation Stage and One planning will commence as necessary.

Sometimes we can apply for a SEN funding for enhanced support for your child. The preschool will receive an allowance to support your child’s learning and development. How this money will be spent is discussed with you.

We offer a settling in session (more if required) which will familiarise your child with the staff and the Pre-School which enables support for your child to be discussed before they commence at Pre-School. Care routines will be discussed prior to starting with us. We are able to administer prescribed medicines once the appropriate form has been completed. If additional training is required to administer medicine, we will undertake this as necessary.

We ensure that every child is secure and feels safe in our environment. We have staff who have had previous experience in supporting children with health and medical needs. All our staff are caring, attentive and supportive with all children’s needs and are non-judgemental. Promoting positive behaviour is important to the setting. We will always discuss any behaviour concerns with you in order to maintain a consistent approach between home and the setting. We can also refer you to the local Children’s Centre where you may be able to receive extended support and in partnership with you can write up a specific Behaviour Plan to support your child development in this area. We concentrate on promoting children’s Personal, Emotional and Social development, building on what they can already do and creating challenges to build their confidence and self-esteem.

The safety of all our children is paramount. All of our entrance and exit doors are alarmed and admittance is only allowed by a member of staff. Children are only allowed to leave the premises with a named and authorised person. We will not release a child to anyone other than a parent without your authority.

We undertake risk assessments on the pre-school building every day before the children arrive. We also regularly risk assess all of our toys and equipment and review appropriately. Risk assessments are always undertaken for outings and short walks around the community and any events that we hold such as sports day.

We work with all professionals as required for each child and always encourage these persons to come and visit the relevant children in the setting.

If required, we will contact and work with our Local Authority Area SENCo Team. We will obtain parental consent before making contact and we will include parents in all decisions made and meetings held. The area SENCo is able to signpost and give practical support with approaches to identification, assessment and intervention within the SEN code of Practice. If speech and language concerns are identified by the setting or yourself, with your consent, there is a drop-in clinic available to attend. We work with Speech and Language therapists and the reports they provide to support the children in their language development. We have good links with other services within and around our community and can assist you to access any Parent/Toddler groups, schools and facilities at the Children Centre.

All staff at Puffin Pre School are Paediatric First Aid trained including Epi-Pen and have undertaken appropriate safeguarding training as well as online training around supporting children with SEN.

The SENCo has undertaken a level 3 SENCo course, as well as training around Autism, intensive interaction, one planning and the Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle for assessment. The SENCo regularly attends workshops/ network meetings.

All staff are regularly kept updated on all SEND policy and are given advice and guidance and are sent on training regularly as and when needs are identified etc. We continually reflect on our practice and all training is refreshed regularly.

We have working relationships with local Health Visitors, Speech and Language therapists and Specialist Teachers that we can contact for support or additional training should we need it.

We have an equality Named Co-ordinator, Denise White. Denise will ensure children and their families are not victimised, harassed or discriminated against. She will discuss with the managers when reasonable adjustments are to be made to prevent children being put at a substantial disadvantage. Staff continually receive and refresh their training.
All staff are qualified within Early Years or are currently studying for qualifications.

All children are included on trips out in the local community. You are asked for your consent for your child to take part and any needs are identified and planned for together with you. Risk assessments are completed for all trips. On all trips the children are taken out on a “Walkodile” securely attached by harnesses but other methods of transport can be arranged. A mobile phone and first aid kit are always taken with us.

We will work closely with you to differentiate the setting to enable access that best suits your child, including you in the decision-making process and accessing any specialist equipment that may be required.  The pre-school is all on one level and our entrance and exit is via a ramp. We use the ramp for our outside area provision and this is on the same level.

Visuals aids are used to assist children with the daily routine and language books are shared with setting and families with English as an additional language to aide communication.

We match our teaching styles and differentiate the curriculum so that every child is able to access our provision and make progress. If any family has English as a second language, we can access resources and translations from the Essex Equality & Inclusions officer. We would ensure that we would respect your cultural differences & negotiate to meet your needs in an appropriate way. 

Before your child joins the pre-school, we encourage you to visit the setting (more than once if necessary) familiar with the environment. You will be asked to complete an All About Me form and possibly a One Page Profile which shares information from home. A health care plan will be devised with the parent/carer and key person/SENCo where medical needs are present. We work closely with each family to develop a settling-in routine to match your child’s needs. With your consent, we will liaise with any professionals that are already working with your family.

If a child attends more than one setting, we share the child’s developmental records with that setting through written information and visits to settings. We welcome other settings to visit us. If your child leaves to attend another setting, we are happy to write a leavers report with information on your child’s development and time with us, we are also happy for other settings to visit your child while they are still at our setting and we share appropriate information with them. We will transfer your child’s tapestry account to the new setting where possible.

When transferring to school, the pre-school will initially liaise with the school to arrange the best transition for your child. This could include a meeting between the school, pre-school and parents to discuss the best strategies to support transition; several visits to the school by your child; photographs of the school and the teacher is requested to visit to the pre-school. If other agencies are supporting your child, they may also be involved with the transition process and work with you to find the best level of support. Sometimes it is agreed that a higher level of support is needed once a child is due to start primary school. In this case, a request for an assessment can be made to the Local Authority for an Education and Health Care Plan (EHC) The request can be made from either you, other agencies such as a specialist teacher or by the staff
at the preschool. You may not feel an EHC is required and that the primary school may be able to meet the child’s needs with the resources they have. Occasionally Individual Pupil Resourcing Agreement funding can be issued to the primary school. This enables the primary school to support the child’s needs until further evidence is gathered and considered. Once further evidence is gathered the child’s case may be reconsidered for an Education and Health Care Plan.

We are a registered charity with limited funds; however we are able to apply for funding from Essex County Council to support individual children via an inclusion grant as required. We would also ensure Staff attend any specific training necessary. We have access to the Essex Local Offer www.essexlocaloffer.org.uk which parents and carers can also visit to find information. Government funding is available for 2-year olds in receipt of Disability Living Allowance.

At times we are able to support your child further by accessing some specific additional SEN premium (the term after your child is 3). This premium is allocated to children with the most complex needs and children that need high levels of additional adult support.

More detailed information is available in our policies;
Promoting Positive Behaviour, Administering Medicine, Food and Drink, Managing Children who are sick, infectious or with allergies, Parental Involvement, Valuing Diversity and Promoting equality, Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and Working in Partnership with Other Agencies.

To register your child with the preschool or discuss your child prior to starting please contact the Manager/SENCo Kirby on 01371 876375. You can email us at or pop in to see us during our session times.

Should you have any concerns or complaints around our SEND offer or your child’s care please see our Making a Complaint Policy (located in Staff Office that can be retrieved for you) or alternatively speak to a member of staff.