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'Outstanding' working farm nursery inspires children's curiosity and exploratory instincts

Article By: Melissa McAlees, News Editor

A children’s nursery in North Yorkshire, situated on a working farm, has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by the education inspector Ofsted.

High Bank Day Nursery in Stapleton, near Darlington, was inspected earlier this month and achieved an outstanding rating in the four key areas, including: effectiveness of the leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; and outcomes for children.

Lesley Thompson, owner of High Bank Day Nursery, believes the rating is a major boost for the nursery which opened in 2003. She said: “We are delighted to have achieved an outstanding status from Ofsted.

“We have worked very hard to get to this stage and we couldn’t have achieved it without our highly qualified, experienced and motivated staff and the tremendous support we receive from our parents.”

Ofsted inspectors praised the nursery in which the children’s natural curiosity and exploratory instincts are "well fostered because the surroundings supply endless and fascinating challenges." The 19 childcare staff were also praised for having an "excellent knowledge" of how the children learn and provide rich, varied and imaginative experiences that engage and motivate all children.

Operating from four rooms in a renovated building, the nursery has integrated the outdoor working farm into the children’s learning to provide the children with first-hand experiences of life and growth, along with endless opportunities for creativity, imagination and physical development.

The children are encouraged to grow, harvest and taste different fruit and vegetables, learn where food comes from and look after the different animals on the farm, including the cows and chickens.

Ms Thompson added: "The farm provides a safe platform for all children, including those with additional needs, to get hands on with animals and dispel any negative connotations of ‘fear’ that may have been passed on by adults. In this sense, a child's physical, social, emotional and cognitive development can all be encouraged by interaction with the animals.

"Caring for the animals also has a calming effect on our children, particularity if they have been running around outside, whilst those who are shy will often talk to the animals about their feelings and experiences as they feel that they understand them."

High Bank Nursery provides childcare for 68 children aged from six weeks to five-years-old. The working farm is fully incorporated into the day-to-day activities of the nursery, providing the children with a unique opportunity to explore the natural environment.


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