Nursery World Awards 2022 – Supportive Environments


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Ashbridge Nursery Hutton offers unique outdoor learning opportunities, consisting of two private wooded areas, a low ropes course, an outdoor classroom, a large climbing area, a a large vegetable garden, a bespoke adventure playground, on-site animals including donkeys, sheep and rabbits, a vast meadow and more.

Staff are constantly reviewing the outdoor offering and improving it where possible to support children’s learning and development. For example, a small artificial obstacle course was removed and natural local boulders were installed, which not only simulates real-life rock climbing and bouldering, but is suitable for all ages, allowing children of all levels of success in outdoor risk taking.

In the forest, following the children’s interest in the birds that nest there, several nesting boxes were purchased, including one with a webcam to allow children to watch the birds and observe their life cycle.

When the children were disappointed at not being able to make a fire in the rain, the staff set up a large canopy that could be used over a fire so that even on the coldest days the children could cook outside. outside.

While many families are more focused on the environment and preserving the natural world, the setting has invested more in their vegetable garden and has on-site beehives to encourage the conservation of these important insects.

In the garden, children develop a love of the natural world, discover the cycles of life and are immersed in the beauty of nature. They learn to take care of living beings and maintain plants, as well as to develop their self-confidence and independence. Communication and language skills are developed enormously in the garden, with listening and attention being essential to come to a better understanding of how to help their plants grow. Children also benefit from being free in the garden, tinkering with a watering can, watching the bees and becoming one with nature.

Staff teams are backed by a trained outdoor entertainer and horticulture specialist and backed by detailed yet easy to understand risk assessments. All team members receive training information from the outside manager.

The setting promotes outdoor sleeping, and with well-maintained outdoor spaces and resources, warm waterproof coats provided for staff and overalls for children, there are no barriers preventing anyone within the setting from accessing to high quality outdoor learning at all times.


Busy Bodies Childcare Centre, Ludlow

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

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

Kids use the area for vertical painting, role-playing, singing, dancing, story-telling, catching, cooking, counting, writing and more. Their language has improved as a result, and more teamwork and relationships are observed by staff.


Dandelion Education, Norfolk

When staff identified that their environment was not providing a true ongoing supply, they began consulting with colleagues, children and parents to redesign the space.

Families offered their support by providing resources such as plants and pallets, building new areas, and providing feedback. A local arborist donated wood chips. Children also participated, with hammers, drills and saws.

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

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


Pebbles Nursery, Worthing


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


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