Zuzana Pelaez, a nursery teacher and EYFS Phase Leader at Victory Primary School (Southwark), shared her thoughts on the ways in which the Teens and Toddlers programme supports and benefits young children, and the impact of having 'several extra teaching assistants' in her classroom. 

"This programme was one of the most useful projects I have ever participated in during my teaching career. I would never have guessed how much it would enrich our provision and melt our hearts.

Having the girls working 1 to 1 with the little ones was a huge help for me as a class teacher; suddenly, I had several extra teaching assistants supporting the children with their maths or their phonics. Many of my children do not have the luxury of a grown up supporting them at home; a lot of parents do not speak any English, so I could see the impact on the children's learning straight away.

"Many of the quiet, timid children really came out of their shells and started communicating and playing in a way I have never seen them do before."

Social and emotional development is a fundamental part of the Early Years curriculum and contact with the teens provided so many opportunities for their personal development.

I am sure that the little ones will remember their teens forever. The children found their role models or the sisters that they never had. During the week, they talk non-stop about their teens, they play games that the teens have taught them and they ask everyday if this is the day the ‘big girls’ come in.

The girls [from Notre Dame High School] became a part of our class and I think of them as my children; I can't imagine not having them coming in after the programme ends! So thank you again for working with us on the Teens and Toddlers programme - I wish I could have them in everyday!"