Cumnor House School Nurseries, Surrey
There are two nurseries in the Cumnor House stable of schools – one across the road from the main boys’ school on Pampisford Road in South Croydon, and the other a little further on past the girls’ school in the gated Webb Estate on Woodcote Lane in Purley.
Both nurseries are open to boys and girls from the age of two years up, and for the both the focus is on learning, not just childcare.
The South Croydon nursery is open for 51 weeks a year from 8am-6pm, while the Purley nursery is term-time only from 8am-3pm.
The South Croydon nursery is split into two purpose-built (and both recently renovated) buildings – Silver Birches for the 2-3 year olds and The Willows for the 3-4 year olds. Both overlook the sporting fields used by the main school, and both have their own secure entrances and fenced outdoor play areas.
Silver Birches is one main room, with zoned areas for literacy and maths, and a quiet area for story time. Here, the teacher-child ratio is 1 to four. As you’d expect for kids this age, the focus is on learning through play – but unlike many nurseries and pre-preps where the play is free flowing and unstructured, it’s planned play. Each half-term a theme is set, based around a storybook like We’re All Going on a Bear Hunt, or The Gruffalo, but the teachers also try to base learning around the children’s interests – so if dinosaurs are popular, they’ll incorporate those too.
Learning at The Willows follows a similar structure to Silver Birches. The main school follows the Read Write Inc literacy programme, but they start in the nursery and most children will have solid foundations in both literacy and maths before they start reception.
The Purley nursery is on a bigger site with three separate rooms for the nursery, as well as a hall, a small library and another space called the horseshoe area (where they have teatime club and snack). The Cumnor Boys’ School’s three reception classes are also here, which makes it feel like a small school. The learning follows the same format as the South Croydon site.
The 3-4 year olds are in a the Chestnuts classroom and there’s a real sense of it being a classroom. The Little Acorns (2-3 year olds) are divided between two Little Acorns classrooms.
There’s plenty of space for outdoor play here too – a front playground, a central courtyard, a nature garden, a back playground and a larger space for sports and games.
As with the South Croydon nursery, the younger kids who still nap lie down on a mattress with their own bedding in the quiet area after lunch each day.
At the South Croydon site, all food is cooked in the small kitchen at The Willows (and delivered to Silver Birches in special keep-warm or keep-cool carriers). Tables are set up for meal times: snacks, lunch and supper. The menus are on a three-week cycle and are vegetarian and halal provision. At Purley, the kitchen is just off the main hall, which becomes a lunch hall for meals.
MUSIC AND SPORT
A music teacher visits each site every day, with her guitar in tow, and teaches singing and music. I’m told the children really look forward to it. Twice a year – at Christmas and in the summer – the children put on concerts for their families.
A sports coach also visits each site twice a week to teach ball skills and games. In the summer there’s a sports day.
The Cumnor House schools are the obvious choice, and 75 per cent of the children carry on at either the Boys’ or Girls’ schools.
The head of Cumnor House School for Boys, Daniel Cummings also oversees both nursery schools. He’s fairly new to the Cumnor family, having arrived this academic year. He’s taught in both the independent and state sector, coming most recently from The White House Prep School in Balham, which he guided into The Sunday Times Top 100 UK Prep Schools – entering the chart at number 10 of the London schools. Mr Cummings is proud of Cumnor’s achievements, academically, musically and in sports. But he says that education is not just about the school results and says he takes a more holistic approach. He likes to get out among the kids, and wants both kids and parents to know him, saying they’re all part of the Cumnor family.
Perhaps not a quirk exactly, but a lovely idea. There’s a borrowing library at both nurseries – kept by the door, from which the children can borrow story books to take home.
WRAP AROUND CARE
Families looking for full-time provision tend to go for the South Croydon nursery. But for those who prefer the term-time only offering at Purley, there is the option to stay until 6pm at the Tea-time Club for an additional cost of £5.25 an hour.
Fees at Cumnor House Nursery depend on how many days your child is there and which nursery they attend. For term-time only (8am-3pm) fees start at £1,580 a term for two days a week, rising to £3,375 a term for five days. For year-round provision (8am-6pm), fees start at £468 a month for two days, rising to £1,170 a month for five days. Lunch and snacks are included in the fees.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Cumnor House School’s strong reputation for academic success is part of the attraction of the nursery. The focus on academics starts here.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Parents who want to set their child on an academic path at a young age – the foundations are laid here. Sports, music and other specialist subjects are also introduced.
Not for: If you’re after a nursery that’s all about play.
Dare to disagree? Cumnor Nurseries hold daily tours of each nursery, 9.30am – 10.15am. To arrange a tour, please contact the admissions team.