Not all children spend their days inside.
A New Mill nursery has been praised by Ofsted for its use of the great outdoors.
There’s never a dull moment at Barnaby’s Day Nursery, Mearhouse Farm. Weather permitting, the youngsters are out and about in Forest School, going on bug hunts, climbing trees, growing fruit and veg on the allotment, painting with mashed blackberries and – best of all – drinking hot chocolate around the camp fire.
The sessions are led by Sarah Branson, who has been trained by the national Forest Schools organisation.
All these activities came in for special mention by Ofsted inspector Helene Terry, who has just graded the nursery as 2-Good.
The report stated: “Staff have a good understanding of how children learn through play and exploration. Children are very eager to take part in a broad range of stimulating activities, both inside and outside.
“Children’s personal, social and emotional skills are supported very well, owing to staff's understanding of each child’s individual needs and the programme of activities, such as the Forest School.
“Children are welcomed into a warm, friendly setting, where they are valued and included to ensure they all progress very well. A very good partnership between the nursery and parents ensures key information is shared between them.”
The outdoor activities have a serious side to them. Maths is introduced to the raspberry and blackberry picking, as the youngsters have to add up how many they have collected.
They learn about weights and measures as they fill up basins with water in the garden allotment.
The Forest School takes place twice a week. Barnaby’s deputy manager, Sara Dobson, said: “The outdoors is a big aspect of our nursery.
“We build dens and make things out of clay, staff make a fire in the woods and we make hot chocolate and popcorn. We also have a bug hotel where the children watch insects.
“It is nice to be outside in the elements and the children have a lovely time.
“The staff and parents are really pleased with the Ofsted report and the fact that the outdoor aspect has been recognised as important.”
The inspector added that in order to become outstanding, staff should enhance children’s growing interest in books and continue to develop their literacy skills.
Barnaby’s was set up in 2009 and has 82 children on roll and 18 members of staff. It is a private nursery run by Avril Rothwell.