Wigan borough nursery where children climb trees and get up close to nature receives top marks at first inspection

A nursery where the outdoors and nature play a pivotal role in the development of children has been deemed “outstanding” by Ofsted in its first inspection.
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Woodland Adventure Nursery in Astley, where children spend time playing in the forest and getting up close to nature and wildlife, has been lamented with praise by the watchdog.

Inspectors remarked on how "babies gaze dotingly at staff” and “children squeal with delight as they run up and down slopes in the forest”.

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Children celebrate the "outstanding" Ofsted report for Woodland Adventure NurseryChildren celebrate the "outstanding" Ofsted report for Woodland Adventure Nursery
Children celebrate the "outstanding" Ofsted report for Woodland Adventure Nursery
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The Astley Hall Drive site operates out of the grade II*-listed Dam House, which backs onto a mass of greenery where children explore, climb and play.

“Children thrive in this wonderful adventure nursery and are keen to enjoy the outdoor environment,” the inspection report said.

“They develop a love of nature and utmost respect for the natural world during their daily visits to the forest.

“Staff are always nearby to stimulate and spark children’s interests. They skilfully help children to build on previous learning in addition to supporting them to gain new skills.

Laura Littlewood, owner of Woodland Adventure NurseryLaura Littlewood, owner of Woodland Adventure Nursery
Laura Littlewood, owner of Woodland Adventure Nursery
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“Staff consistently promote the nursery’s rules and create a calming atmosphere that children respond exceptionally well to. Children have a secure understanding of the high expectations for their behaviour.

“They develop a real sense of right and wrong and they happily engage in the inspiring experiences on offer.”

Inspector Daphne Carr was impressed by the curriculum, which she claimed met the individual needs of the children.

Additionally, the staff, management and reputation among parents were all matters of indulgent praise from the regulator.

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The inspector went on to point out the remarkable physical skills the children have as a result of the forest school approach adopted at the nursery.

Ms Carr said: “Two-year-old children show very high levels of confidence as they skilfully climb trees. Three-year-old children develop aptitude, self-esteem and muscle strength as they challenge their large physical skills, such as on the rope bridge or in the hammock.

“Children receive excellent support for their physical development. Staff use information from training exceptionally well to support children’s feelings and emotions.”

The nursery also offers an out-of-school club that hosts children up to the age of 10.

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Having only registered as a nursery in 2021, owner Laura Littlewood is delighted to have impressed on her first Ofsted inspection.

She was a childminder for more than five years before setting up this new venture.

She said: “We are over the moon with our Ofsted report, especially as this is our first inspection. We are so passionate about giving children the best possible care and education.

“Our inspector was lovely and took the time to speak to all the staff and put them at ease, she spent a lot of time observing in each room and she absolutely loved our forest school session saying ‘I could spend all day here, it’s lovely’.

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“We like to think of our nursery as one big family and many of our parents comment on this, we had so many lovely messages from our parents to Ofsted. I would like to say a huge thank you to our staff team for the amazing work they do each and every day.”

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