Nursery World Awards 2013: Initiatives - Business Development

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Winner: Northumbria University Nursery, Newcastle upon Tyne.

For more than 20 years, the university nursery was run from a 'temporary' 30-place Portakabin, but in 2011 the University Executive gave the long-awaited go-ahead to invest in a new purpose-built setting. In November last year, it officially opened its doors.

Much thought was given to the design of the £1.5m building. Executive childcare manager Deborah Thorpe says, 'We were extremely keen to ensure that the "ecologically aware" ethos we have developed through the years continues to develop at the new facility, so in addition to instilling green virtues in the staff and children's work and play, we sought to ensure that the building's design mirrors our "green aspirations".'

Features include plumbed-in drinking fountains replacing wasteful water coolers, sensor and dimmer light technology to enhance natural light, a sedum-planted roof to encourage wildlife, and photovoltaic cells to help reduce energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. All the nursery play rooms benefit from large windows allowing maximum natural light, and they have direct access to the garden.

The new nursery has 96 places, to meet the growing level of demand from within the university and wider community. Extended opening hours support parents delivering or attending lectures and the nursery now offers vacation care. The new premises also complement teaching on early years degree programmes through student placements and also potentially as a teaching facility.

'Future developments include live streams to lecture theatres to allow students to learn from activities in the nursery and in January we employed our first apprentices with a view to effectively growing our future workforce,' says Deborah.

Judges commented on the new setting 'meeting the needs of the community and commitment to development'.

Staff are incredibly proud of what they achieved in their old building, but are embracing the challenge and wonderful opportunity to do so much more in their new nursery. Ultimately, they aim to be recognised as a centre of excellence for childcare. The icing on the cake came in May when Ofsted graded the nursery outstanding.


Finalists

The Babydrop Creche, Clapham, London

Rainbow Smiles, West Dulwich, London


Criterion

Open to launches of, or significant expansions to, early years services in the past 12 months.

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