How we get children in Sutton school-ready for September

12 Apr 2022

In the run-up to National Primary Offer Day on the 19 April, we know many parents and carers across Sutton will think about how ready for school their children are.

‘School readiness’ is an important part of early childhood education and development. We spoke to Michele Whelan, Manager of Lavender Pre School to find out about some of the work that takes place in the early years sector and how children’s development is supported locally. 

“My name is Michele Whelan, and I am the manager at Lavender Preschool situated in the Tweeddale Children’s Centre. We offer sessions for mixed age groups in a free-flow environment. We work with a high percentage of two-year funded children, a large number of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and a range of children with English as an Additional Language. 

“We start working in partnership with parents to prepare children for primary school as soon as they come for a visit around our setting, particularly emphasising how we promote independence in self-help skills and how our children learn through play - both inside and outside, in all weathers. We are developing a display of children’s clothes made messy through play, with photos of our children in action with an explanation of what the children are learning at that moment.

“Many of our parents struggle with this and feel anxious about the children being outdoors in cold or wet weather, getting clothes muddy or covered in messy play or paint. We have noticed an increase in parents’ anxiety over the last two years since Covid-19 began. We continue to work with parents through the child’s induction day with a question-and-answer session, and meetings with their key person to discuss their progress and how they have been learning. We display lots of conversation-starting posters explaining how this play is benefitting the children’s progress and building their resilience. 

“Over the last two years when some children did not attend because of various lockdowns, their key person kept in regular contact through well-being phone calls, even carrying out progress meetings over the phone to keep their relationship with the child and their family going. We posted weekly updates on our website with ideas of activities and stories to progress the children’s learning effectively. We noticed that many parents were providing a more formal approach to their younger children’s learning alongside their older siblings who were engaging in online learning. We are supporting the children and their families to close any gaps in the three prime areas of the children’s development.

“As we move forward and Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, we look forward to returning to an “in-person” coffee/progress day where we will once again be able to serve refreshments and encourage the parents & carers to stay and meet with their key person and also other families. 

“We hope through persevering with this approach that we will support our children and families effectively with school readiness.”

To find out more about how Sutton Council works with schools, children’s centres, settings and families on ‘school readiness’, please visit -