I was handed a leaflet for The Little Wild Nursery (in Putney) a while ago, and intrigued by the concept decided to get in touch with them to find out more. We spoke to Ellie from Wild Education about the new venture – The Little Wild Nursery opening in Barnes in September 2016. She gave us all the details.
How did Wild Education come about? What is your background?
I am a trained secondary school PE teacher who specialised in Dance and Outdoor Education. After teaching for a number of years I switched to working for an expedition company helping schools take groups of children to developing countries for a month and going on a few expeditions myself! I was promoted further and further away from working with the children and once my own children came along I wanted to find something which suited my lifestyle and got me back to working directly with children.
I have always been passionate about being outside and the benefits for all of us to spend time in our natural environment and discovered the Forest School ethos of education. Whilst doing my training I ‘borrowed’ my daughters class from Orleans Primary School to practise on, the school and PTA were so impressed they then rolled out a programme for all Year 1’s to get the benefit from regular sessions in the woods – and so Wild Education was born! We also run 2 hour Forest School sessions for pre-school groups, schools, after school clubs and school holiday activities.
This is the first forest School we’ve heard about in London, (although we’re sure here must be others). What made you bring the idea of a forest school into the city?
There are a number of people doing Forest School sessions like us but not many moving on to offer an Ofsted registered Forest School nursery. Outdoor education is more common place in the country, schools have grounds and space to get outside, children go off to play with friends after school and the Forest School movement has been growing in Scotland, Wales and Norfolk in particular. I think it is even more important for us to embrace this ethos where our schools outdoor space is so limited, children’s time is so scheduled with after school activities which are adult directed and they have limited time to play.
We understand the nursery is opening in September. How are the preparations coming along? When can prospective parents visit?
It’s been an exciting time of choosing a tipi and toilet tent, preparing the site and making sure all our policies and procedures are up to date. We’ve had 2 open days already but we are running shorter introductory sessions on Mondays and Tuesdays 10am-12pm throughout the Summer term so people can still come and see what a session is like, see the site and meet the staff. We’ve had all our site plans agreed by the local council parks and early years departments, we have lots of interested families and a nearly full waiting list, so now we are just waiting for Ofsted to come and do our registration visit in mid May. Then it will be all systems go to make sure we are fully functioning in September.
Can you give an insight into what a typical day at The Little Wild Nursery would look like?
The Forest School ethos is that it is child led, however children often need support in learning what is available for them to do. A normal day will be a mixture of self-selected and group activities. After arrival and self-registration they will choose an activity using the resources/environment around them. We will then stop for a snack/song/story and an idea for a guided activity they can do if they choose. We will then stop for lunch. After lunch we will go on a nature walk with a different child leading the group. We will also have one off activities like pond dipping, cooking on the fire etc
How many children will the nursery hold? Will there children be separated into groups (i.e. Age)?
We have a limit of 16 children per day and it is for age 3+ so the children will all be together.
Do you have to follow the EYFS?
Yes – we have written our own curriculum ‘wild style’! We will cover the same areas of communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, understanding the world, literacy, maths and expressive arts and design as any other nursery we will just be doing it in the wild.
We have tarps to put up around the site and a big tipi for when it’s really raining or cold – with cushions/bean bags and blankets. If there are thunder storms/hail/high winds we also have access to a big open field and a sports pavilion building on the site to use if necessary..