The winner of Nursery of the Year at the Nursery World Awards 2017 will open a new setting in Eaton Vale, Norwich, on 16 April 2018.
The new one-acre site will feature a yurt, fire circle, chickens, mud kitchen, vegetable patch and reading pods.
Children will be free to climb trees and make their own toys in the outdoor setting, which will offer places for 25 children aged between two and eight years old for 49 weeks of the year.
Dandelion’s Eaton Vale site will be opened by local author, Guardian journalist and Dandelion parent Patrick Barkham on 10 March 2018, when the nursery will also offer an open afternoon to prospective families.
Dandelion Education was founded by former primary teachers Emma Harwood and Hayley Staniforth-Room in 2015.
Its first outdoor nursery at Marsham, near Aylsham, was commended at the Nursery World Awards 2017 for its ‘broad variety of provision’, offering ‘an inviting range of open-ended activities involving physical and intellectual challenge coupled with strong and sensitive emotional and social support.’
Dandelion Education also provides special sessions for home-educated children, children who are ‘flexi-educated’ by combining primary school with days at Dandelion, and children with additional needs.
Ms Staniforth-Room said, ‘We decided to expand because we believe deeply that the Dandelion approach should be open to as many children as possible. The positive impact on children’s happiness, wellbeing and education has been verified by Ofsted, the Nursery World Awards and, most importantly, children and their families. It felt the right time to move to a city to offer children our marriage of Philosophy for Children and Forest School delivery with extremely high adult to child ratios by highly qualified staff.’
Ms Harwood added, ‘We hope that our Ofsted success, and several other recent accolades, have demonstrated that excellence in early years schooling can be met in unique and innovative ways. Learning can be fun and fun can be learning.’
Dandelion’s owners said they do not have any further plans for expansion at the current time, as they hope to spend as much time as possible working at the two sites.