Nursery World Awards 2020 - Enabling Environments

Friday, February 5, 2021

Joint winner, Meadow Lane Children’s Nursery, St Ives

To create a space that inspired both children and educators, staff at Meadow Lane Children’s Nursery took a step back from any preconceived ideas of what a nursery ‘should’ have.

Rather than bright and cluttered, adult-made display boards, educators use wall space to communicate with one another and parents, show the thinking process behind development, and reflect and document what the children really enjoy, with quotes and photos from children as opposed to art work they would rather take home.

Literacy and maths are emphasised, with books, letters, words and numbers always accessible to children and easy to pick up, focus on, trace over with fingers, order them or sort them.

Light and natural classrooms, with floor to ceiling windows and glass doors, allow children to see out and observe their surroundings by incorporating the inside with the outside and bringing nature into learning.

Meanwhile, leftovers from the building of the setting have become resources, with cut-offs from the trusses in the roof turned into wooden blocks, and pallets that delivered materials transformed into play kitchens.

Tyres, tubes, bottles, pebbles, twigs, flowers, seeds and wire give children the opportunity to explore trial and error experimentation.

In addition, an atelier with a pottery wheel, on-site bee hive and kitchen garden allow the children to have hands-on experiences, while staff share their love of learning too.


Enquiry Based Provision at Little Barn Owls Farm and Forest School

All Little Barn Owls nurseries have art studios for children to develop long-term project work and learn how to use high-quality materials such as wire, clay, graphic resources, paint and digital equipment. Full-time, highly experienced artists work with children to offer new skills, materials and ideas.

Two nurseries include farm schools in their gardens with animals such as chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, quails and even a pig, while an 11-acre private woodland is home to daily Forest School sessions with fire circles, a large yurt, natural mud kitchens, woodworking tools, dens and rope walks.

As well as small group sessions in the atelier and farm school, children have free flow access indoors and out to explore the wide range of continuous provision on offer. Babies go outdoors and to the farm school daily, and have a huge variety of treasure baskets for heuristic play, cosy areas, large-scale mark making and much more.


Forest School at Tynemouth Nursery Group

Imaginative Spaces at N Family Club

Into the Outdoors, responding to COVID at Barnkids


Open to early years settings that have developed elements of their provision to create stimulating, child-centred learning environments in line with the principles of the EYFS. This could be any aspect or area of the setting, including outdoor area, forest school, under-threes provision, movement play area, free flow, children’s access to self-chosen activities etc

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