Nursery World Awards 2022 - Eco-Friendly Early Years

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Joint winner: Jayne's Nursery, Chelmsford

You can download the digital Awards book here

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Jayne’s Nursery has adopted sustainable and environmentally-friendly measures which have been embedded into everyday practice and are regularly reviewed.

The setting has recently completed the OMEP Education for Sustainable Citizenship Silver Award, and the award’s structure of three ‘interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars’ of sustainable development; social and cultural, economic, and environmental, are at the heart of practice.

The setting offers rural and urban experiences, maximising the potential of natural spaces in the local area. These experiences are enhanced by the new Forest School leader who mentors practitioners to provide meaningful and exciting activities for children. The child-centred approach promotes respect and empathy for the environment and children learn about lifecycles, species, seasons, and climate, ensuring they grow up fully aware of the needs of the world they live in.

Children have run several campaigns in the nursery which have led to a reduction in plastic waste, electricity and water consumption, learning values which will influence the decisions they make as citizens for the rest of their lives.

Supporting the local community develops an awareness of the needs of others, and children visit the elderly, donate allotment produce, raise money, and contribute to local initiatives. Children are also learning about their global community, and the setting has partnered with a pre-school in Nigeria to learn more about the ‘commonalities we share with others’ through Zoom calls when children and staff swap ideas on climate, upcycling, food, language and dress.

The children regularly litter pick in their community and are working towards their Woodland Trust Awards.

Children help with weekly recycling and replenish their own upcycling shelf which they use for expressive art and design, role play and in their ‘repair shop’, where resources are created, upcycled and repaired.

The setting’s allotment offers ‘seed to plate’ experiences which support understanding of seasonal food, the needs of plants, healthy cooking and sharing surplus food.

The farm shop showcases how easy and fun it is to grow organic food with children, shop locally and purchase only what is needed without excess packaging. Parents say the setting’s transition to a vegetarian menu has had a positive impact on children’s attitude to healthy eating.

Parents contribute to sustainability efforts in many ways, such as teaching sewing to help children upcycle clothing for role play, and offering floristry activities and painting workshops to encourage children to notice and reflect on local flora and fauna.

Staff have been enthusiastic advocates of sustainability and instrumental in helping to reduce the setting’s carbon footprint, by reducing paper waste, plastic gloves, and paper towels, eliminating aerosols, glitter and wet wipes, and supporting the transition to reusable nappies.

Significant investment in training has ensured staff are unified, motivated, and confident in their practice. Practitioners understand the breadth of sustainable education and no longer limit their practice to ‘environmental’ aspects. Staff training in forest leadership, schematic play and ESC encourages community of practice, a common vision, and a strong, supportive team.


London Early Years Foundation, Green LEYF


Childbase Partnership

Dandelion Education, Norfolk

Holly Grange Montessori Nursery, Lymm


Open to early years settings and services who are developing an eco-friendly approach in all aspects of their work, from management, resourcing, recycling and design, to educating young children about sustainable development.

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