Godstone Farm Day Nursery and Pre School
An idyllically placed day nursery and pre school for children aged 6 weeks to five years, where old-fashioned values and a love of the outdoors take centre stage.
This brand new day nursery opened in only the summer of 2021, on the same site as the popular 45-acre Godstone Farm, offering year-round childcare for babies aged 6 weeks up to children aged 5 years. As the name suggests, it’s part of Godstone Farm, which means there’s a heavy leaning to the outdoors and natural play.
The nursery can take up to 83 children in total across the three age groups, and while it’s still early days in terms of numbers, they’re growing steadily. Children come here from the local Godstone area, but also from as far afield as Warlingham, Selsdon, Caterham, East Grinstead and Oxted.
Children make daily supervised visits to the farm, and have access to everything the farm offers. So when the baby piglets arrive, there’s a good chance these kids will be among the first to say hello!
The nursery is spread out on one floor with large, light-filled rooms and free-flow outdoor spaces. The building was originally the tea rooms at Godstone Farm, but has been extended to create a wonderful purpose-built space.
The front door leads into an entry reception, and off this you’ll find three separate rooms – the Baby and Pre-toddler Room on right, and the Toddler Room and Pre-School Room on the left – each with their own garden space and direct secure access to the farm.
BABIES AND PRE-TODDLER ROOM
A big space, with the capacity to be converted into two separate rooms, this room offers free-flow play indoors and out, with two astro-turfed gardens. It can take up to 30 children, with a teacher to child ratio of 1 to 3.
Furniture here is noticeably neutral with plenty of wooden toys and natural things like pebbles and sticks. The absence of garish primary colours and plastic toys is calming and rather lovely. But don’t for a second think this neutral environment means kids aren’t encouraged to get messy. In fact, quite the opposite is true – children are inspired to explore the outdoors, get involved with malleable play in sand trays, with play doh (all home made) and with clay.
It’s a no-shoe area – all outdoor footwear must be taken off before you enter the room – and it’s kept warm via underfloor heating. As you’d expect, there are sleeping beds, cotbeds and sleeping mats so the babies can have a morning or afternoon nap. Session times are morning including lunch (from 7.30am-1pm), afternoon (from 1pm-6.30pm), or all-day (7.30am-6.30pm).
Children here are aged 2-3 years, and like the Baby and Pre-toddler Room, play is free flow with ‘in-the-moment’ planning and play. This means the teachers observe and interact with the children as they pursue their own interests, assessing and guiding the play in that moment. As with the nursery’s general ethos, there’s a strong emphasis on nature and outdoor play. There are a maximum of 22 children in the Toddler Room, and one teacher for every four children.
While play is still free-flow in this room – for children aged 3-5 – a little more structure has been introduced, and children will work with numbers, patterns and on developing their fine and gross motor skills. Nature is again a strong focus, as is the outdoors. Children are encouraged to explore, get creative an use their imagination. There’s also a reading area and space for quiet time.
Lucy Nicholson is at the helm and it’s obvious she has a real passion for what she does, as well as for animals and the outdoors. As the manager of a nursery that’s based on a working farm, she’s clearly in her element! She’s immensely chatty and has a lovely rapport with the children, which I’m certain extends to the parents as well. She talks a lot about the importance of communication between the nursery staff, the children and their families. Lucy has worked in childcare for 12 years, her previous role was as deputy manager at a nursery in Purley.
Okay, so the nursery is based on a farm – so that’s a bit quirky. But it’s also steeped in traditional and old-fashioned values. While the use of gadgets and technology like tablets and computers are not entirely shunned, they certainly don’t take centre stage. This is a nursery that’s all about encouraging creativity, imagination and development in a natural and holistic environment.
WRAP AROUND CARE
The nursery is open from 7.30am to 6.30pm. Breakfast is from 7.30-8.30am, an optional snack is available from 9.30-10am, lunch is at 11.30am, afternoon snack time is from 1.30-2.30pm and tea is served at 4pm.
Full-day sessions are £79 for under 3s and £67 for over 3s; morning-only (7.30am-1pm) is £47 for under 3s and £43 for over 3s; and afternoon sessions (1pm-6.30pm) are £45.50 for under 3s and £42 for over 3s. A full week is £355.50 for under 3s and £301.50 for over 3s.
WORD ON THE GROUND
The nursery has been open for only a few months, but already parents are loving its outdoorsy style and the fact that children get to make regular visits to Godstone Farm to visit the animals.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Outdoorsy kids, those who love nature-based adventures and families keen on a holistic and traditional early learning setting for their child.
Not for: If your child – or you – aren’t so keen on messy play, this probably isn’t the ideal nursery setting for you. Children at encouraged to play outside, get dirty, climb the tyres and explore nature.
Dare to disagree? Book a tour of the nursery and see it for yourself.