Nursery World Awards 2022 - Enabling Environments

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Ashbridge Nursery, Hutton

You can download the digital Awards book here

Ashbridge Nursery Hutton provides unique outdoor learning opportunities, consisting of two private woodland areas, a low ropes course, outdoor classroom, large rock-climbing area, extensive kitchen garden, custom-built adventure play area, on-site animals including donkeys, sheep and rabbits, an expansive meadow and more.

Staff are constantly reviewing the outdoor provision and improving it wherever possible to help children’s learning and development. For example, a small, man-made obstacle course was removed and natural, local boulders installed, which not only simulates real life climbing and bouldering but is suitable for all ages, allowing children of all abilities to achieve success in outdoor risk-taking.

In the forest, after the children showed an interest in the birds that nest there, a number of bird-boxes were purchased, one with a webcam to allow children to watch the birds and observe their life cycles.

When children were disappointed they could not have a fire in the rain, staff installed a large canopy suitable for using over a fire so even on the wintriest days children can cook outside.

As many families become more focused on the environment and preservation of the natural world, the setting has further invested in its kitchen garden and has beehives on site to encourage the conservation of these important insects..

In the garden, children develop a love of the natural world, learn about life cycles and are immersed in the beauty of nature. They learn to take care of living things and nurture plants, and also build self-confidence and independence. Communication and language skills are developed hugely in the garden, with listening and attention vital to lead to a better understanding of how to help their plants to grow. Children also enjoy the opportunity to be free in the garden, pottering about with a watering can, watching the bees and at one with nature.

Staff teams are supported by a qualified outdoor leader and horticulture specialist and backed up by detailed but easy to understand risk assessments. All team members receive training input from the outdoor lead.

The setting supports outdoor sleeping, and with well-maintained outdoor areas and resources, warm waterproof coats provided for staff and salopettes for children, there are no barriers preventing anyone in the setting from accessing high-quality outdoor learning at any time.


Busy Bodies Child Care Centre, Ludlow

A large unused car park was transformed in three months into a unique learning environment. The owner did all the work himself, asking tree surgeons for chippings, using materials and pallets and working hard to create a brand new environment on a tight budget of just £600.

The new outdoor area is an extension of the old space, with an open gate between the two, so children can choose where to go.

Children use the area for vertical painting, role play, singing, dancing, reading stories, catching, cooking, counting, writing and more. Their language has improved as a result, and more teamwork and connections are being observed by staff.


Dandelion Education, Norfolk

When staff identified that their environment was not providing true continuous provision, they began to consult with colleagues, children and parents to redesign the space.

Families offered support by supplying resources such as plants and pallets, building new areas and providing feedback. A local tree surgeon donated woodchip. Children pitched in too, with hammers, drills and saws.

Now, the children own the space, with the freedom to work or play where and how they wish.

The environment offers challenge, with no ‘right’ way to climb the individual platforms. Emotional well-being is a priority.


Pebbles Childcare, Worthing


Open to early years settings who have developed elements of their provision to create stimulating, child-centred learning environments in line with the principles of the EYFS or other early years frameworks.

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