First outdoor nursery in the north prepares for launch

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The north of England is set to get its first outdoor nursery, where the children will play in the woods all day, every day, whatever the weather.

Beyond the Walls Outdoor Nursery is set in Roddlesworth Woods, in Tockholes in Lancashire and is due to open in September.

Every morning, parents will drop off their children at the village hall in Tockholes and they will then be taken the short distance by minibus to the woods.

‘We will spend the whole day in the woods until 4pm and then we will return to the village hall where their parents can pick them up,’ said lead practitioner Naomi Suggett.

‘In extreme weather conditions, we will use the village hall, but most of the time, we intend to be outside in the woods.

‘Last year, children at an outdoor nursery in Scotland didn’t have to go inside at all and it was a pretty harsh winter last year. It is all about having the right clothing and the right attitude. We do stipulate that the children wear a thermal layer of clothes and waterproofs,’ she added.

The nursery has places for 15 children aged from three to five and Ms Suggett, who will be running the nursery with her business partner, Diane Calvert, plans to have a ratio of one adult to five children.

There will be no toys in the woods and the children will spend their days digging, building dens, studying insects through a magnifying glass and learning all about the trees and plants.
‘We will take books with us so the children can learn to identify the trees. If we see some twigs and leaves on the ground, we can make them into a picture or use them to count with. It is all about getting out there and waiting for the magic to happen.’

A large number of risk assessments were needed for the venture to get the go-ahead.

‘We have had to do risk assessments for everything, for dogs, people, horses, insects. The list goes on and on. But it is worth it as the children’s safety is paramount,’ said Ms Suggett.

There are only a handful of outdoor nurseries in the UK, including The Secret Garden which opened in Fife in Scotland in 2008.
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