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A NEWTOWNARDS pre-school has been nominated for three education awards.

West Winds Nursery Unit has been nominated in the Best Nursery. Best Teacher and Best Assistant categories at the Family First NI Education Awards.

The nursery is through to the finals and the winners will be announced at the  awards ceremony on April 20 at Titanic Belfast.

Nursery class teacher Emily Leary has been at the school for three years and said it was ‘lovely’ to be nominated by the parents of the children.

“Anyone can nominate,”she explained. “Some of the mummies from this year put us forward for Best Nursery, myself for Best Teacher and Sharon Murray for Best Assistant,” she said.

“We love our job and we work so well as a team and I think the parents are able to see that.

“We were absolutely delighted to be nominated for the awards. It was a wonderful surprise, thank you so much to our nursery families and community for taking the time to nominate us. 

“By the end of nursery, we want children to have gained a sense of belonging; having the confidence to explore, learn and play. We feel they can do this by building strong relationships with the nursery team and their peers.

“We would like to thank the West Winds Development Association for their support to facilitate us attending the awards in April. The finalist page will be going live shortly so if people would like to vote keep an eye on our social media pages.”

The nursery is for children aged between three and four, and follows a pre-school curriculum, although as they are attached to a school they are called a nursery unit.

This year the class has 27 children and enrolment is oversubscribed.

“We go off the pre-school curriculum which has seven different areas,” said Emily. “We teach them across the curriculum from early numeracy, early literacy, the world around us, personal, social and emotional development.

“Each month we have a different theme and we try to make their learning come to life by having visitors. We had Lorraine from the Ark Farm here, and we bring them out on trips such as to the splash pool and Clandeboye Rangers forest school. We’ve got great grounds and try to get them out in all weathers as much as possible.”

Sharon Murray has been at the nursery for 23 years and has been a ‘big part of the school and the community and knows every family’.

She said the award would acknowledge that they have good teamwork and have created a loving and nurturing environment.

“What we really thrive on is that family environment, we see all these children as our own,” said Sharon.

Niall Manogue, principal of West Winds Primary School, said they were ‘delighted’ to get the nomination.

“We were delighted to receive the nominations recently for our nursery, and for Mrs Leary and Ms Murray in particular,” he said. “The fact that the nominations come from parents and families makes them all the more special.

“The last few years have seen our nursery team work extremely hard at developing our nurturing, engaging nursery so it’s lovely that that is rewarded by a large increase in our enrolment applications this year and by the nominations and comments received by our nursery families.”

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