A pre-school in Whittington is celebrating a successful year – not only has it been running for 50 years, but it has also received an Outstanding Ofsted inspection.

Whittington Under Fives Pre-School is a firm favourite in the town, with generations of families attending the group over the 50 years they have been in business.

With around 45 families bringing children to the pre-school, the staff work hard to ensure that the children are happy and safe, all while giving them a start in education before they move to primary schools throughout the area.

"There has been a playgroup in Whittington for 51 years now," said Dawn Blackburn, who has worked as a leader for 24 years.

"It was started in 1961 and first ran from the Senior Citizens Hall. In later years it moved to the Community Centre and ran for three mornings a week.

"In 1996 the hours were extended to 9am to 3pm, five days a week to cope with the demand for places and that's when Whittington Under Fives Pre-School was established.

"The majority of children who attend are village children and move on to Whittington School. However we are now seeing children from parents who themselves attended the pre-school, even some grandparents, some who have moved to neighbouring villages or town – they all decide to come back here because they have such happy memories of the place.

"We also have staff who have worked at the pre-school from between 10 and 24 years who are the backbone of the Under-Fives pre-school. The staff also started off life as parents who brought their children here, and now they are a part of the team."

Many Hughes, fellow pre-school leader, has worked with the Under-Fives for 22 years. She says that the staff also work very closely with the committee, which is made up from the parents of the children at the pre-school too.

"In July 2017, our 50th year, together we achieved an Outstanding grade from our Ofsted inspection which we are very proud of," she said.

"We had the same inspector that had visited us in 2015, and he said that he had seen improvements from his previous visit, which was obviously great to hear.

"We just ensure that everything is in place as it should be, we stick to the guidelines – but to have this Outstanding is a great accolade for us to have."

The Whittington Under Five Pre-School Ofsted report stated: "Leaders demonstrate an excellent drive to improve through robust action planning and feedback from others.

"Evaluation of staff practise is meticulous, and they work very closely with teachers to enable children to feet part of the school before they start.

"Children have extremely positive attitudes about their move to school. The staff's dedication to working with other professionals to help support children and their families is first class."

To celebrate the pre-school's achievements, the staff have decided to hold a reunion party on Sunday, September 23 at the Community Centre.

Dawn said: "We would like any past and present students who would be interested in attending the reunion to get in contact with us, either by speaking to a member off staff or committee, or by contacting us at whittingtonunderfives@hotmail.co.uk or phone 01691 610127 from September 5.