Initially the nursery was developed in a small building that is attached to an old farm house. Since 2004 we have grown from strength to strength; offering high quality care and education for an increasing number of children and extending our facilities both indoors and outside in the grounds of the nursery and farm house in response to popular demand for more places. In 2015 we achieved our second consecutive “Outstanding” Ofsted assessment and over the last few years have achieved several awards for the quality and standard of our provision. We are extremely proud of the staff teams throughout the nursery who have supported the quality of the environments that we create for learning to take place. They are extremely dedicated and hard-working and their approach strongly reflects the ethos of Nature Trails: offering a broad range of play and learning experiences outside as well as indoors. All of our children enjoy nursery life immensely and, with the support of their parents, they contribute hugely to the calm, friendly, community atmosphere that we have developed at our Cawston setting.
Our nursery is made up of four units: two situated in the main building, whilst “Forest Friends” pre-school is located in two adjoining purpose built log cabins. We have a variety of different outdoor play areas including two all-weather surfaced gardens and small covered verandas that enable children to play outdoors whatever the weather, if they wish. All children make use of the surrounding countryside and we have regular walks through the local woods.
At Nature Trails we actively review and evaluate our practice to ensure that we maintain a fully inclusive environment that supports learning through play, exploration and first hand experiences that fulfil children’s need to learn through active engagement with their environments. We stretch children’s learning potential by using language, collaborative enquiry and experiences that stimulate both critical and creative thinking. Children at Nature Trails all have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of age appropriate activities and experiences. These include a rich variety of outdoor play opportunities that from a very young age serve to optimise physical health, well-being, confidence and emerging skills in movement and co-ordination. Children over two years old participate in Forest School sessions that are especially adapted to suit developmental ability and needs.
As part of our inclusive practice we also offer, yoga, sign language sessions, music and movement, petting zoos, football skills, creative arts and Shetland pony visits that are supported by specialist visiting teachers and practitioners. Our own nursery practitioners take part in, enjoy and learn from these specialist teachers so that they can reinforce learning throughout the nursery year. Other activities include outings to the park, pre-school outings on the bus to the town to visit the museum for special exhibits and events. We use a range of teaching materials to expose children to variety of different languages through song, rhyme and dance and share experiences that celebrate many festivals that are significant to particular children in nursery. Outings, events and play days are organised for children and their families on several occasions each year and an annual school coach trip to an educational attraction is enjoyed by pre-school leavers that are bound for school.
Parent views are listened to and we offer participation through e mail messaging, parent forums and a Parent Ambassador scheme.
Our nursery has a relationship with no fewer than 20 local infant and junior schools. We receive visits from school teachers towards the end of each summer term and our lead practitioners reciprocate by visiting them and maintaining contact to evaluate transitions to school.
Daily, our curriculum and practice reflects the Department for Education “Early Years Foundation Stage” guidance and “Statutory Framework” requirements (2013/2014). However our learning ethos is also influenced by research that draws from highly regarded European models of nursery education that emphasise the importance of play, exploration and enjoyment of learning that is skilfully delivered by well-trained Early Years educators. We require all staff to undertake qualifications at least to NVQ level 3 and encourage and support staff to extend their personal development and specialist education beyond this level. Many of our existing practitioners have undertaken Early Years degrees and post graduate specialist teaching qualifications. They bring a wealth of ideas and experiences to our setting, ensuring continuous improvement.